Act 1, Scene 1

  • Othello and Desdemona are married
  • Takes place in Venice
  • Starts in the middle of an argument between Roderigo and Iago
  • Iago has been passed over for the job of lieutenant
  • Roderigo pays Iago to help him get Desdemona
  • Two men yell that Roderigo has been robbed by “thieves.”
  • Iago rudely tells the senator that his daughter and Othello are having sex by saying that they are “making the beast with two backs”
  • Brabantio says his daughter has been stolen from him by magic “charms,” so he and his men follow Roderigo to Othello

Act 1, Scene 2

  • Cassio and officers from the Venetian court approach Othello.
  • Othello gets a message that he is wanted by the duke of Venice about something concerning Cyprus
  • Brabantio tells men to attack Othello

Act 1, Scene 3

  • The sailor announces the Turks have turned toward Rhodes
  • Turks joined with more forces and heading back toward Cyprus.
  • Brabantio, Othello, Cassio, Iago, Roderigo, and officers arrive
  • Brabantio thinks his daughter has been stolen from him by spells and potions that were purchased from charlatans
  • Othello denies having used magic to get Desdemona
  • Duke is persuaded by Othello’s story
  • Desdemona verifies she married Othello of her own free will
  • Brabantio accepts her decision and allows the court to return to state affairs
  • Duke decides Othello has to go to Cyprus to defend the island from the Turks
  • Desdemona asks to go with Othello
  • Roderigo feels his hopes of scoring Desdemona have been ruined, Iago tells him everything will be fine
  • Iago delivers the first soliloquy (declares hatred for Othello and suspicion Othello has slept with Emilia, his wife)
  • Iago has the plan to play Roderigo out of his money and prove to Othello that Cassio has slept with Desdemona

Act 2, Scene 1

  • Takes place in Cyprus
  • Montano: the island’s governor, loyal to Othello
  • “What form the cape can you discern at sea?” line 1. begins with reduced visibility- why is this significant?- maybe foreshadows the separation of Othello and Desdemona
  • due to the storm, Cassio saw that the Turks lost most of their ships and men
  • Iago describes the woman in general as deceptive and hypocritical “You rise to play and go to bed to work” line 118. -lazy, only good in bed- Desdemona plays along
  • Othello’s ship eventually arrives after a while and orders Iago to unload his ship
  • Iago is married to Emelia
  • “knave” line 231-239, Iago describes Cassio
  • Iago convinces Roderigo to fight Cassio
  • Iago’s soliloquy: He thinks that Othello has slept with his wife, new theme of revenge

Act 2, Scene 2

Herald announces a celebration upon the demolishment of the Turkish fleets and the marriage of Othello and Desdemona

Act 2, Scene 3

  • Othello leaves Cassio on guard
  • “And, I’ll warrant her, full of game.” – Iago line 16: Iago describing Desdemona
  • Iago gets everyone drunk, hoping it will make Cassio do something stupid that will offend the island
  • Montano gets involved in the fight and Cassio stabs him
  • Othello comes in and demands to know what happened
  • Iago’s soliloquy at the end was about Desdemona and how she is eventually going to move on from Othello and Cassio…
  • The theme of deception continues through this act (Iago deceiving everyone through his plans)
  • The theme of revenge (Iago plotting revenge on Othello)
  • The theme of reputation (Cassio, and Iago) – Iago tells Cassio he has not lost his reputation…

Act 3, Scene 1

Desdemona pleads for Cassio’s case to Othello, hoping he will gain his reputation back and job

Act 3, Scene 2

Othello gives Iago letters to deliver, why were the letters significant and what were they for?

Act 3, Scene 3

  • Emilia has a speech about Desdemona’s handkerchief, which essentially starts Iago’s plan officially. The speech was to explain the significance of the handkerchief. It represents Othello’s and Desdemona’s feelings for one another. “I am glad I have found this napkin…I nothing but to please his fantasy.” (lines 294-303)
  • Iago is convincing Othello that Desdemona is cheating on him with Cassio, Othello demands for proof and evidence. “I think my wife be honest and think she is not. I’l have that thou art just and think thou art not. I’ll have some proof.” lines 394-396.
  • Othello is doubting Iago’s assumption and knows he isn’t telling him all he knows
  • Iago says: “O wretched fool that lov’st to make thine honesty a vice! O monstrous world! Take note, take note, O world, to be direct and honest is not safe. I thank you for this profit, and from hence I’ll love no friend, sith love breeds such offense.” lines 385-390.
  • Ironic/ hypocritical of Iago to be saying this because he is the one deceiving and betraying Othello hoping to succeed with his revenge.
  • A major theme of jealousy arises in this scene with Othello, prompted by Iago
  • ending foreshadows the end of the play, that an ending with death or disaster is unavoidable
  • development of relationships between Othello and Desdemona, and Othello and Iago

Act 3, Scene 4

  • Othello demands Desdemona for the handkerchief, but she doesn’t have it (Iago stole it)
  • Cassio finds the handkerchief in his room and asks his wife, Bianca to go copy it for him because he likes it

Act 4, Scene 1

  • reference to reputation by Iago again: “Her honor is an essence that’s not seen, they have it very oft that have it not. But for the handkerchief-” Lines 16-18.
  • Othello is so angered he falls into an epileptic fit/seizure
  • Iago tells Othello to hide when he talks to Cassio about Desdemona to prove his point
  • Iago is taking this lie so far, it seems as if it will catch up to him soon
  • Iago tells Lodovico to watch over Othello and see what he does next

Act 4, Scene 2

  • Othello and Desdemona lock themselves in a room and Othello weeps about how this marriage has deteriorated
  • Roderigo is beginning to have doubts about the plan and thinks he is being cheated, but Iago once again, convinces him everything will work out as planned as long as they kill Cassio

Act 4, Scene 3

  • Song: “Willow” symbolizing the fate of Desdemona, the song is about the lover killing the lover: “She was in love: and hr she loved prove mad…”
  • Othello sends Desdemona to bed telling her he will be with her shortly
  • Symbols: the handkerchief: a symbol of deception or Desdemona’s virtue/goodness (her chastity for Othello and the act of her giving it away means giving away her body)
  • Recurring animal references: “You are welcome, sir, to Cyprus, goats, and monkeys!” line 214.

Act 5, Scene 1

  • Iago places Roderigo to kill Cassio
  • Roderigo wrecks Iago’s plan, so Iago has to get physically involved
  • When he tries to kill him Cassio was wearing armor underneath his clothes, preventing him from dying, so the plan backfires with Cassio stabbing Roderigo killing him
  • Cassio gets stabbed in the leg by Iago and Iago runs away
  • Othello thought Othello had killed Cassio
  • Iago blames Roderigo for the stabbing
  • Iago: “This is the night that either makes me or fordoes me quite.” Lines 132-133

Act 5, Scene 2

  • After finding out Cassio was dead he goes to kill Desdemona going along with Iago’s plan
  • When Emilia comes to tell Othello about the stabbings earlier, Desdemona tells her she killed herself and it was no one
  • Othello admits to murdering her
  • Emilia told Othello about the handkerchief and how Iago demanded it, showing Iago was behind all of this
  • Iago in anger stabs his wife and kills her, Emilia sings “Willow”
  • Othello is horrified at what he has done all because of Iago – he stabs him but he doesn’t die
  • Cassio is now governor and is in control now of what to do with Iago
  • Othello: “Of one that loved not wisely, but too well. Of one not easily jealous, but being wrought, perplexed in the extreme. Of one whose hand, like the base Indian, threw a pearl away richer than all his tribe. Of one whose subdued eyes, albeit unused to the melting mood, drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees their medicinal gum….”- Othello stabs himself after this speech
  • What is the significance of him describing the Turk?
  • Iago’s lie has finally caught up to him, now he has to pay for what he’s done
author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0


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