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Othello Notes on Setting, Objects & Places

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Othello Objects/Places

Venice: Venice is a large city in the north of Italy and the setting of many of Shakespeare's plays. Only the first act of Othello takes place in Venice, giving expository information on the relationships and conflicts within the play. Significant events in Venice include Brabantio's discovery of his daughter's love for the Moor.

Cyprus: Cyprus is an island in the far eastern Mediterranean Sea, south of Turkey and to the west of Syria. The majority of the play takes place in Cyprus, where Othello is sent to live after defeating the Ottomans. Desdemona joins him on the island. It seems, at first, to be a place of joy and victory, but soon turns into an isolated land of death and despair. Montano is the governor of the land and, after the tragedy, rules with a stronger will.

Duke's palace: Only a short scene in the beginning of the play takes place in the Duke's palace in Venice. It is here that Brabantio learns of Desdemona's love for Othello, and Othello decides to leave for Cyprus.

Handkerchief: The handkerchief is a small object of great importance in this play. It facilitates plot development as a symbol of love and betrayal. This special handkerchief was the first gift given by Othello to Desdemona, illustrating his love for her. It is of Egyptian origin and possesses sentimental value for both Othello and Desdemona. The handkerchief is the physical evidence that convinces Othello of his wife's faithlessness. Desdemona drops the handkerchief innocently, allowing it to fall into the wrong hands. Emilia gives it to Iago, at his request, and Iago plants it in Cassio's room, cultivating jealousy in both Othello and Bianca.

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