|This page contains resources for teaching Othello, a powerful drama that continues to fascinate audiences. Below you'll find links to resources from Folger Education that include lesson plans, teaching tools, video resources, and more.|
Folger Education offers lesson plans on Shakespeare's frequently taught plays, as well as lessons on introducing Shakespeare. Try the two plans below, or, for more lesson plans for Othello, visit the Lesson Plans Archive.
"Catching the Beat"
This lesson plan examines the function of verse and poetry in Othello and explores ways in which this can reflect the thought process of different characters. You'll cover NCTE standards 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 11, and 12.
"How to Tell a Good Wife From a Bad"
In this lesson plan, you'll cover NCTE standards 1, 2, 3, 9, and 12. The lesson is best used after students have read the entire play, and uses primary sources from the period (included) to examine Elizabethan attitudes towards the roles of husbands and wives.
The Folger edition of Othello includes facing-page notes and illustrations throughout the play; background information on the play, Shakespeare's life, theater, and times; notes on unfamiliar language, or words that meant something different in Shakespeare's day; and a scholarly assessment of the play in light of today's interests and concerns.
Shakespeare Set Free , a groundbreaking curriculum on performance-based teaching, includes a unit on teaching Othello.
Colorful Character Connections offer an at-a-glance map of character relationships, an introduction to the plot, and important quotes to look and listen for.
Audio and Video Resources
The Folger exhibition Now Thrive the Armorers: Arms and Armor in Shakespeare focused on how real-world military changes influenced many of Shakespeare’s plays, including Othello.
Listen to the Podcast
Click here to watch exhibition curator Jeffrey Forgeng explain Mediterranean warfare in the time of Othello.
For many students today, reading Shakespeare's language can be a challenge. Things to pay attention to in Othello:
In Othello Shakespeare often uses sentence structures that separate words that normally appear together. This is often done to create a particular speech rhythm, or emphasize a certain word. For example, Iago separates subject and verb when he says “Three great ones of the city / In personal suit to make me his lieutenant” (1.1.9-11, emphasis added).
- unfamiliar words
- unfamiliar word order
- words whose meanings have changed
Seeing Shakespeare performed, or performing Shakespeare, can help alleviate these difficulties. To see performance-based education strategies for your classroom, check out our clips on YouTube here.
About the Play
Othello was printed in two different versions in first quarter of the 17th century. The first appeared in 1622 in a quarto edition, and is a shorter version of the play. The second version appeared in the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays, printed in 1623.
To learn more, explore our Discover Shakespeare online resource, including the sections highlighted at right.
From the Collection
Othello Photo Gallery
Arms and Armor in Shakespeare
Read the Play
Folger Digital Texts:
Othello Study Guide