Act 2 Scene 1

The scene begins in Cyprus, Montano, with the governor of Cyprus watching a storm with two gentlemen. He states that he does not think the Turkish fleet could withstand the storm, moments later a third gentleman enters with the news that Cassio has arrived, and that on his voyage to Cyprus, Cassio saw that the Turks lost many ships in the storm and that Cyprus need not fear them. 

Cassio soon enters upon his arrival; he is very glad of the defeat of the Turks. However, he worries that Othello might have been lost at sea. Which is quickly followed by the arrival of the Venetian ship carrying Desdemona, Iago and Emilia with Roderigo next to arrive. Desdemona hears the news of Othello’s ship potentially being lost only for the ship to be spotted.

As they wait for Othello to arrive, Iago and Desdemona have a few jokes. Iago portrays all women, whether beautiful, ugly, smart, or foolish, as generally deceptive and sex starved. But he also says that a woman with perfect virtue would be boring. Desdemona defends women against him as he is just listing male views and stereotypes. Cassio takes Desdemona’s hand to talk with her in private, Iago sees this as his chance to get Cassio stripped off the lieutenant position. 

Othello arrives happy to see Desdemona, he thanks the people of Cyprus for their great hospitality, all leave to go and celebrate at the castle. Only Iago and Roderigo remain as he tells Roderigo Desdemona will lose interest in Othello and go for Cassio, he even mentions how Cassio took her hand earlier on, only for Roderigo to see it as courtesy (as it was), Iago convinces him otherwise. Iago recommends Roderigo to fight Cassio, as he believes that Cassio will be removed from the picture.

Iago delivers his second soliloquy of the play. He says that he thinks it likely that Cassio loves Desdemona and is possible that she might love him. Iago also wants to sleep with Desdemona, he wants to sleep out of spite as he wants revenge on Othello for possibly sleeping with Emilia. Either way the confrontation he’s engineered between Roderigo and Cassio will cause Othello to suspect Desdemona of infidelity and drive him mad.

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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