Plot Summary

Othello, Moorish general of the Venetian army, and Desdemona elope, much to the consternation of Roderigo, an unlikely suitor, and her father Brabantio, a Venetian Senator. Alarm is raised by Iago, Othello’s aid and villain of the play. Iago hates Othello for a number of unsupported reasons, hinted at throughout the drama, and plots his undoing.

The Duke calls Othello to a council convened in order to address a Turkish threat outside Cyprus, a Venetian province. Before the council can get under way, Brabantio issues his complaint against Othello. Both Othello and Desdemona (who is summoned) testify that their love is true. The Duke and the councilmen are satisfied, mainly because they want Othello to protect their interests in Cyprus. Othello is given a clean chit then ordered to Cyprus to repel the Turks. En route to Cyprus, a storm at sea arises and destroys the Turkish fleet. Desdemona, escorted by Iago, arrives safely. Othello’s ship lands soon afterward and all give thanks for their fortune in having a safe passage. Othello grants a holiday for the soldiers.

During the festivities that ensue, Roderigo picks a fight with a drunken Cassio, Othello’s second-in-command. Cassio is dismissed from his post by an angry Othello. This is part of Iago’s plot: With Cassio in disgrace, Iago convinces the former lieutenant to seek Desdemona’s intercession. Meanwhile, Iago suggests to Othello that Desdemona is cheating with Cassio and tells him that she gave her handkerchief to Cassio. By planting this seed of jealousy in Othello, the Moor does indeed begin to suspect his wife when she speaks on behalf of Cassio and cannot produce the handkerchief (Iago has stolen it).

Iago continues to deceive Othello into believing that Desdemona has cuckolded him. Overhearing Cassio speak of an affair with Bianca, Othello mistakenly assumes that he is speaking of Desdemona. Othello renounces his Christianity, binds himself to Iago, and vows to kill his wife in revenge.

In an attempt to kill Cassio, Iago convinces Roderigo to...

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Essays About Othello