Act 1 Scene 3

The Duke of Venice meets with his senators about a Turkish invasion of Cyprus. They manage to understand the Turkish ploy, as the Turks aimed to make it look as if they would attack Rhodes instead of Cyprus. The Duke and the Senators discuss the idea and plan how to repel the Turkish attack on Cyprus.

Brabantio only wants to discuss the situation with his daughter’s marriage rather than war affairs. The Duke promises to help Brabantio prosecute the man who has seduced Desdemona as he feels he should support Brabantio, however upon learning that the accused man is Othello he gives Othello a chance to defend himself as he is his army general so doesn’t want to go against him. Othello reveals he married Desdemona but that it was his story of his life that he believes won her over not (rather than potions as claimed by others).

Desdemona enters upon their request, responds to Brabantio’s anger, just as her own mother once had to shift her obedience from her own father to Brabantio, so must she shift her obedience from Brabantio to Othello. Brabantio gives in and allows the conversation to move back to war affairs. Othello is sent to Cyprus lead the defence; Brabantio warns Othello of Desdemona that she could disobey him as a result of disobeying her father. Othello requests Iago to bring Desdemona to Cyprus for him and once Othello leaves Iago begins to mock Roderigo for thinking he’d end up with Desdemona. Only for Iago to ask Roderigo to go to Cyprus with them and promises they will end up together.

Iago ends the scene with a soliloquy to the audience where he outlines, he will take Roderigo’s money, and make Othello think that Cassio is having an affair with Desdemona, and in so doing also get the position of lieutenant. He believes as Othello sees him as honest this will work. In addition, the rumours Othello slept with his wife Emilia he believes to not be true but wants to use it to further put Othello in a bad martial position.

Plot Summary

Iago is angry that Othello (the general of the army), has promoted Cassio to be his lieutenant instead of him. Othello secretly marries Desdemona, the daughter of a senator in Venice (Brabantio). Iago therefore tells Desdemona’s father about the secret marriage to cause trouble for Othello.

Desdemona’s father makes a formal complaint about Othello’s behaviour to the Duke of Venice. His complaint is ignored and the Duke sends Othello to Cyprus to continue fighting in a war. Othello goes to Cyprus and takes his new wife Desdemona with him, together with Iago and Michael Cassio.

Iago encourages Cassio to get drunk whilst on duty. Cassio ends up in a drunken fight and is demoted from his position as lieutenant. Iago begins to plant seeds of suspicion in Othello’s mind about his wife’s relationship with Michael Cassio. Iago gets hold of a handkerchief belonging to Desdemona and hides it in Cassio’s room pretending it is proof of Desdemona’s unfaithfulness.

Desdemona pleads with Othello to give Cassio his job back. She does this innocently, but Othello takes this as proof of her feelings for Cassio. Iago continues to manipulate Othello to the point where Othello murders his new wife as punishment for her supposed unfaithfulness. Iago’s wife, Emilia, tells Othello that Iago has lied. Othello realises his tragic mistake and commits suicide over the body of his wife as Iago is arrested.

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