Act 3

Act 3: Scene 1

A brief comic interlude begins the third act. Cassio speaks to a clown and a musician, hiring the musician to waken the newlyweds with music, following the Renaissance custom. In order to speak to Desdemona, Cassio asks to see Emilia, her attendant. Emilia tells Cassio that the general and his wife have been talking about him that morning: Desdemona is already speaking “stoutly” on his behalf to Othello. Othello counters that Montano, whom Cassio wounded, is highly respected in Cyprus; nonetheless, Othello still loves Cassio and appears to be willing to relent. Cassio asks for a word alone with Desdemona and Emilia agrees to get her, concluding the scene.

This comic interlude, if it can even be called that, is so brief for the sheer fact that Iago provides almost all of the comic relief throughout the play; he is at once the world’s greatest and funniest villain. His imagery is often bawdy but humorously so, and his wit is superb even though he directs it to such demonic conclusions. Iago provides many of the laughs in the drama, proving that evil is intelligent.

Act 3: Scene 2

This scene is briefer still and simply shows Othello giving letters to Iago for dispatch. Othello then announces that he shall be out walking the works, i.e., viewing the island’s fortifications. It serves primarily as a buffer between the first and third scenes, allowing Cassio’s petition to Desdemona to be delivered offstage.

Act 3: Scene 3

The scene begins with Desdemona assuring Cassio that she will do all in her power to reconcile him with Othello. Othello and Iago enter. Cassio excuses himself. Desdemona asks to him stay and hear her speak on his behalf, but he protests that he is too embarrassed to come so soon before Othello. As he exits, Iago murmurs to Othello that he “likes not” what he sees. Othello does not question him on this point at the moment, for his...

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