Discussion Questions for “O”

This week we focus on exploring characters and characterization. Write a paragraph or two in response to each of the following prompts.

We know that Odin James (Othello) is a star basketball player, but who is he as a person? What are his other defining characteristics? What are his hopes and dreams? What does he value most? How does he initially understand his relationship with Desi (Desdemona). How and why does their relationship change and how does Odin behave toward her? What does he fear most? Why is he so susceptible to Hugo’s (Iago’s) lies and deceptions?

Who is Desi? What are her defining characteristics? What is her background? What are her hopes and dreams? What does she value most? What does she fear most? How does she understand her relationship with Odin and how does she behave toward him? As things go awry, what could Desi do differently to prevent further damage? Why does she ultimately prove so incapable of protecting herself from the escalating consequences of Hugo’s plot against her and Odin?

Who is Hugo? What are his defining characteristics? What are his hopes and dreams and fears? What does he value most? What does he fear? What motivates him to orchestrate his complex plot against Odin and Desi? What skills and abilities does he use against those he hopes to harm? What does he hope to gain from his schemes? Does he ultimately succeed? Why or why not?

How are we to understand the end of this movie? Desi gives no final explanation for herself or what has happened. Confronted by Odin who finally sees through the deceptions, Hugo remains silent and refuses to answer. Odin gives a final speech that is a fairly faithful update of Othello’s final soliloquy, but do we agree with his assessment of the situation? Why or why not?

Finally, this film includes a closing voiceover from Hugo where he claims he will now have his moment in the spotlight. This speech is not from the play but was invented by the filmmakers. In the play, Hugo (Iago) never speaks again, and this silence has been the source of much academic discussion. Why does the movie include this new dialogue? Are we meant trust Hugo here? Why or why not? Do you think this added final speech adds or subtracts from our experience and understanding of Othello’s tragedy and why?

Published by Chuck Caruso

writer of dark fiction (crime, horror & western noir), literary & textual scholar (american gothic, noir, po-co, sf), and cultural critic

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