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Othello

Othello: Summary

William Shakespeare’s Othello takes place in 16th-century Venice and also Cyprus.

In the opening of the play, Iago, a captain under Othello in Venetian army, argues with Roderigo, a wealthy Venetian. Both of them had a common adversary – Othello, a noble black warrior in the same army. Roderigo was in love with Othello’s girlfriend Desdimona and wanted to get her. And Iago thinks Othello has deprived him of his promotion.Roderigo and Iago go to inform about Desdimona’s elopement with Othello to her father Senator Brabantio, a prominent senator. Hearing it, Brabantio becomes furious. Immediately, Iago leaves Brabantio and reaches to Othello to give the news of Brabantion’s anger and his reaction.

Othello and Desdemona are called at the office of the Duke of Venice. There Brabantion accused Othello of seducing his beautiful daughter by magic. In defense, Othello clarifies that he won Desdemona by telling her his adventures in the great wars. Desdemona is called upon to testify and she admits that she loves Othello and she herself has come with Othello to get married.

The Duke assigns Othello as the general of the defense forces against the Turks, and as per order, he must leave for Cyprus immediately. Desdemona too wants to go with Othello to Cyprus. But with the Duke’s permission, Othello manages for Desdemona to follow him later in another ship with Iago and his wife Emilia. Othello mistakenly thinks Iago as a trusted friend of his.

On the next side, Roderigo is upset as his beloved is married to another man. Here, Iago convinces him that soon Desdemona will be fed up with Othello and he can have a chance to follow her. Iago is secretly planning to destroy the happiness of Othello and ruin him using Cassio as an instrument.

Iago is on his mission to ruin the life of Othello. He starts planting the seeds of doubt in the mind of Othello about the fidelity of Desdemona. Iago makes Othello believe that her lover is no one but Cassio, the junior of Othello. Iago then schemes in such a way that Cassio, fully drunk, gets a fight with Roderigo. Because of the fight, Cassio loses his job. Cassio is convinced by Iago that if goes and talks to Desdemona about his jobless situation, then Othello may reinstate him in his job. Iago himself manages the meeting between Desdemona and Cassio at Othello’s house at night. Then, Iago brings Othello in the scene when Cassio is pleading Desdemona. In fear of his senior Othello, Cassio leaves hastily which is noticed by Othello. Desdemona immediately and enthusiastically begins to beg Othello to excuse Cassio and also requests him to give him back his job. The moment Desdemona and Emilia leave, however, Iago begins to plant seeds of doubt and suspicion in Othello’s mind.

By now, Othello is in the grip of Iago’s manipulation. He demands of Iago some proof that Desdemona is unfaithful. Iago uses the handkerchief of Desdemona, which she unknowingly dropped, as a proof of her infidelity. Iago creates so many fake and manipulated scenes to convince Othello that Desdemona is not happy and fair to him. She loves the white skinned Cassio. Convinced of his wife’s betrayal and enraged and grief-stricken, Othello rushes into thoughtless action, making an agreement with Iago that he, Othello, will kill Desdemona, and Iago will dispose of Cassio.

Meanwhile, Roderigo and Iago attack Cassio in the street, but it is Cassio who wounds Roderigo. Iago rushes out and stabs Cassio in the leg. Othello, hearing Cassio’s cries for help, believes that half of the revenge is completed and hastens to fulfil his task of killing innocent Desdemona. Desdemona is in bed when Othello enters. He tells her to pray a last prayer as he has no wish to kill her soul. Realizing that he plans to murder her, Desdemona protests her innocence of any wrongdoing. Knowing that he doesn’t believe her, she begs him to let her live just a little longer, but he smothers her with a pillow.

When innocent Emilia, Desdemona’s servant and Iago’s wife, comes to know about the plot of her husband, reveals the truth in front of Montano and Gratiano. She explains how unknowingly Desdemona’s handkerchief came into Cassio’s possession. She is told to be quiet but she refuses to be quiet, and Iago stabs her. Cassio though wounded confirms Emilia’s story. When all the truth is disclosed about the innocence and fidelity of Desdemona and the bitter truth of Iago’s plot, Othello cannot bear the pain and stabs himself and falls on the same bed where Desdemona lies dead.