The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice
In a street in Venice, the villain Iago complains to Roderigo that Othello the Moor chose Cassio to be his lieutenant, rather than Iago. Iago vows to stay loyal to Othello only as long as it works to his advantage. They then inform Barbantio that his daughter Desdemona is sleeping with Othello. Brabantio hesitates to believe them, since Roderigo has been an unwelcome suitor to his daughter, but he soon finds she is missing. At Othello's house, Cassio and other officers arrive summoning Othello to the Duke of Venice on urgent matters. Brabantio then arrives and orders Othello arrested, until he learns of the Dukes summons. At the Duke's chambers, Brabantio accuses Othello of using spells and potions to win Desdemona. He, however, proves this is not so, and Brabantio reluctantly blesses their marriage. We then learn that the Turkish fleet (the Ottomites) is sailing toward Cypress. The Duke asks Othello to go defend it, and Desdemona asks to come with. Othello asks Iago to take care of Desdemona and follow him to Cyprus. Roderigo laments to Iago that he has lost Desdemona since Othello has married her. Iago convinces Roderigo to make money by selling his lands and fighting in wars. Over time, Iago feels Othello will tire of Desdemona and she will again become available. Iago, for his own part, reveals to the audience that he is only using Roderigo for his money. He also begins to plot his revenge against Othello for choosing Cassio.
At Cyprus, the governor Montano reports that a tempest has droned the Turkish fleet, effectively eliminating their threat. Next, Cassio arrives, then Iago, his wife Emilia, and Desdemona, and lastly, Othello. In private, Iago tells Roderigo he believes Desdemona is in love with Cassio, based on their flirting before Othello arrived. He convinces Roderigo to pick a fight with Cassio to get Cassio in trouble with the local authorities. Alone, Iago reveals his plans to make Othello jealous of Cassio and/or Roderigo for courting Desdemona. That evening, after supper, Othello and Desdemona head to bed, while Iago arrives with wine, hoping to get Cassio drunk. He does, then Roderigo eggs him on, and a fight ensues, pulling Montano into the melee. Othello breaks it up, and after Iago explains (pretending not to know Roderigo), Othello tells Cassio he is no longer his lieutenant. Privately, Iago convinces Cassio to entreat Desdemona to ask Othello to reinstate him. Alone, Iago reveals that he'll use their private meetings to convince Othello that Desdemona is disloyal.
At the Citadel (Othello's lodging), Cassio entreats Desdemona to help him. When Iago and Othello appear in the distance, Cassio leaves. Desdemona relays Cassio's penance, then leaves herself. Iago begins dropping hints of his "suspicions" about Cassio and Desdemona to Othello, to which Othello probes Iago for his thoughts, and Iago pretends to reluctantly reveal them. Thus, Iago plants the seed that Desdemona is being disloyal to Othello. All throughout, Othello keeps stating how he genuinely believes Iago is of "exceeding honesty". Iago leaves and Desdemona appears calling Othello to dinner. He, already becoming (wrongly) suspicious, is rude to her when she tries to cure his "headache" with her handkerchief, given to her by Othello as his first gift to her. They leave, and Emilia appears and picks up the handkerchief, remembering that her husband Iago has asked her to steal it repeatedly before. Iago appears and takes it from her; then privately states that he'll plant it at Cassio's room to fuel Othello's suspicions. Othello reappears, and reveals to Iago how greatly depressed he has become. Othello yells at Iago and demands proof of the suspicions which Iago has planted in his head. Iago then claims he has heard Cassio talk of his love for Desdemona in his sleep. Iago also claims he's seen Cassio wipe his beard with Desdemona's handkerchief. This being the final straw, Othello names Iago his lieutenant and orders Iago to kill Cassio within the next three days. As for Desdemona, Othello wishes her dead too. In her room, Desdemona and Emilia look for the lost handkerchief. Othello appears and claims to have a cold and asks to see it. Desdemona says she doesn't have it, but promises it is not lost. Othello, enraged, leaves. Cassio again appears and entreats Desdemona to talk to Othello. She tells him she has tried, but Othello has become irritable. Cassio's mistress Bianca appears and he asks her to copy the handkerchief he found in his room (Desdemona's), since he likes it, but fears someone will ask for it soon.
At his chamber, Iago eggs Othello on more as Othello slowly goes crazy, since Iago tells him Cassio admitted sleeping with Desdemona. Iago rejoices as Othello goes into a seizure/trance. Iago convinces Othello to hide while he questions Cassio about Desdemona. In reality, Iago plans to speak to Cassio about Bianca, eliciting laughter and smiles. Othello sees this and thinks they are talking about escapes with Desdemona. Bianca then appears, enraged, and throws the handkerchief at Cassio, accusing him of getting it from another lady. This, too, Othello sees. After Cassio and Bianca leave, Iago comes to Othello and convinces him to strangle Desdemona in bed that night, while Iago promises to take care of Cassio. The noble Lodovico from Venice arrives at Cyprus and gives Othello a letter. Already angered, the letter enrages Othello as it orders him home to Venice and Cassio to remain in Cyprus, taking over Othello's command. Desdemona tries to calm him and he strikes her, shocking Lodovico. Iago tells him Othello has changed, but will not reveal more. At the citadel, Othello questions Emilia about Desdemona's honesty; she swears Desdemona is honest, though Othello summons Desdemona and accuses her of being disloyal and a shore, all while himself weeping. When Othello leaves, Desdemona summons Iago and Emilia to comfort her. Emilia tells Iago she belies an evil villain hath put the thoughts into Othello's head. Ironically, Iago replies "it is impossible". Separately, Roderigo comes to Iago complaining that he has given Iago all his jewels to give to Desdemona, and has seen no positive results from her. Iago calms him down and explains that Othello and Desdemona are leaving, by order of Venice, and Cassio will take over in Cyprus. However, Iago says, if Cassio were to die, Othello would have to stay in Venice, and Roderigo would be able to have Desdemona. Iago tells Roderigo to wait outside Bianca's house after midnight, then kill Cassio when he leaves. Iago promises to help, if necessary. At supper, Lodovico and Othello go on a walk, and Othello orders Desdemona to wait, alone, in her bedroom for him.
At night, in a street, Iago sets Roderigo up to kill Cassio. Iago thinks to himself that both must die, or his plotting will be revealed. Cassio appears and Roderigo attacks him, cutting off one of Cassio's legs, during which Cassio wounds Roderigo. Othello overhears Roderigo's cries for help and thinks Cassio is dead; he thus returns to Desdemona. Meanwhile, Iago, who had left, reappears to "investigate" the noise. Lodovico and Gratiano also come. Iago finds Cassio, who's still alive. Alone, he finds Roderigo and stabs him, assuring his death. Iago then "discovers" Roderigo and calls the others. Bianca appears and Iago accuses her of being in cohorts with Roderigo. He calls her a strumpet and takes her into custody. Othello then arrives back at Desdemona's chamber, ready to kill her, even though he still finds her beautiful. Despite her pleadings, he smothers her with a pillow, though she doesn't completely die. Emilia appears and tells Othello that Roderigo is dead, but Cassio is alive. She then hears Desdemona cry for help and tries to help her, but she dies. Emilia asks Othello why he killed her and he says Iago told him she had slept with Cassio. Montano, Gratiano, and Iago appear and Emilia accuses Iago of being a liar. He admits he told Othello Desdemona was sleeping with Cassio. Gratiano tells us Desdemona's father has died over the grief of losing her. Othello explains that Cassio had Desdemona's handkerchief, given to him by her, but Emilia laments that she found it and gave it to Iago. At this, Iago tries to kill Emilia, but Gratiano and Montano hold him back. Othello, in a rage, comes at Iago, but he escapes and kills his wife (Emilia), then flees. Montano and Gratiano take Othello's sword, then chase Iago. Othello finds another weapon, then Lodovico, Cassio, Montano, and Iago (captured) reappear. This time Othello wounds Iago, but is disarmed. All is revealed as letters explaining Iago's deeds were found on Roderigo, and he, when near death, professed that Iago had put him up to attacking Cassio. In a closing speech, Othello pulls a hidden dagger and kills himself. Fittingly, Lodovico leaves Iago for Cassio to sentence and torture.
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Last Modified April 22, 2003