A Study Commentary

ISBN 0-9580058-0-X

Teaching Copy : US$14.95

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Student Edition : US$14.95

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“The Othello guide includes fine ‘Commentary’, ‘Overview,’ and ‘Student Response’ sections for each scene, as well as essay questions and practice commentaries. The guide…has recently been revised to become more interrogative – less commentary and more questions that call for students to do the discovering. .” From an AP Central Teachers’ Resources Review at

'Your commentary and adaptation for AP/IB is both useful and highly insightful; I really have seen nothing else in other study guides of this quality!'

                                                                                   From our Commendations section


NEW EDITIONS: The recently revised and updated Teaching Copy has
suggested responses to the study tasks built into the text, whereas the newly
published Student Edition carries them in a separate Answers Booklet at the end
of the resource, so that teachers may withold them if they wish, or dispense them on an ongoing basis.

              SAMPLE SECTION: Use the link at the foot of the page      



Access to the study guide can be either by full purchase (using the Add to Basket buttons above) or through a WordSmith Site Licence. Click on the 'Site Licence Application' button at the foot of the page if you have an interest in giving students on-screen access to the book at reduced cost.

The Commentary will help you prepare the play for the classroom. Among other things it will suggest some answers to the tricky questions your students are likely to ask...and it will be an invaluable resource for your stronger students who wish to do independent study of Othello, beyond what you yourself have time to offer.



How the Commentary will help you...


If you are an International Baccalaureate (IB) student following the Language A Literature course (first examinations 2013), the Commentary will help you prepare for

    - the Part Two (Detailed Study) IOC - Individual Oral Commentary
    - the Part Three written exam - Literary Genres (Drama)
    - the Guided Literary Analysis/Literary Commentary question in the final exam

If you have chosen the Language and Literature option the Commentary will support your work within

    - Part Three (Texts and contexts) 
    - Part Four (Literature - critical study) 

If you are an IB Literature and Performance candidate it will deepen your knowledge of the play and broaden your understanding of Drama theory.


If you are preparing for Advanced Placement (AP) the Commentary's line-by-line analysis will give you a very complete insight into the play's fine detail, and help you develop the skills of close textual comment. It will also encourage you to think about some of the wider aspects of the play so that you will feel confident about using Hamlet to answer one of the Free-Response Questions.


If you are a GCE A Level student it will improve your understanding of the play's subtleties, and will help you with your course work and with commentary and essay questions in the final exam. 


If you are an undergraduate student (or a general reader) you will find that the Commentary, scholarly in its focus yet informal in its tone, looks at the play in a refreshingly different way and comes to some new conclusions about it.


How the Commentary works...

  • o It explores what's 'really' happening in each scene - what the situation is, why the characters are speaking and behaving the way they are, and how the play is moving forward.


  • o More importantly, it asks why Shakespeare is making things happen in that particular way.


  • o It draws your attention to the kind of things you will be expected to say about individual passages in the Oral Commentary part of the IB Diploma course, and in response to written commentary questions in AP textual analysis questions and A Level exams. It also includes sample commentary questions and a model commentary.


  • o It carries a range of essay questions in the style of IB, AP and A Level.


  • o It explains the troublesome words and ideas when they are especially important or interesting.


  • o It's set up to be used side by side with your own copy of the play. Line references are given in the margin of the Commentary to make it easier for you to move from one to the other. (References differ from one edition of the play to another, but not by very much.)


  • o The Overview section for each scene lists other, broader points of interest, under useful headings which will help you when you come to revise.


  • o The Student Response sections record some of the things students have said about the play and about the issues raised by it - revenge and its cost, the difficulty of knowing, the difficulty therefore of deciding, the thin lines between genius and madness and between love and cruelty, the beauty and brevity of human life.


  • o All the way through the Commentary essay questions are used as a way of exploring the play further, and also as a means of encouraging you to think about Hamlet not just as an exam text but as a piece of working theatre.


  • o Quotations, line references and essay questions are colour-coded throughout.


  • o Since the book is delivered as a .pdf file, the whole range of Adobe tools (most notably the Find option) can be applied when the guide is being used on-screen.


  • o The book is designed to be printed out (if you wish to use it in hard copy) in Letter format (8.5" x 11") so that it can be easily coil-bound or held in a ring binder.


Enjoy your Othello studies, whether or not you decide to use the Commentary. You may find they change some of your views on how plays work, why Shakespeare is a great dramatist, and even on why people behave the way they do. Othello is a vey fine play, and you're lucky to be reading it. 

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