Act 3 Scene 3

The scene begins with Desdemona reassuring Cassio that she will do everything she can to help him regain his position. Othello and Iago enter, to which Cassio leaves out of feeling ashamed and as if he is now unable to speak with Othello. Othello asks Iago if it was indeed Cassio who just left the room to which Iago denies it.

Othello agrees with Desdemona that he will reinstate Cassio, but he won’t say when he will do it, Desdemona is unhappy as she feels Othello is dragging out the process. Once Iago and Othello are alone, Iago uses this to plants seeds of suspicion and doubt of Cassio in Othello’s mind. He creates the thoughts of an affair between Desdemona and Cassio (a thought that never goes away). 

Iago however doesn’t place himself as responsible as despite his manipulation and fake accusations he remains repeating that Cassio is a great and honest man. Whilst still fuelling the ideas of an affair as Desdemona deceived her father which Iago argues is the first of multiple deceptions. Othello repeatedly denies jealousy but it’s clear, his insecurities lead to him asking Iago to get Emilia to watch over Desdemona

Othello’s insecurities turn to his age and race, and he begins to doubt himself. Desdemona attempts to calm him with her handkerchief to which Othello says it isn’t big enough and drops it to the floor despite the symbolism of the handkerchief. Emilia makes a copy of the handkerchief for Iago; Iago now intends to plant it in Cassio’s room. 

The handkerchief was the first gift Othello gave to Desdemona to symbolise their love which is now fading. Iago informs Othello that Cassio was holding the handkerchief, Othello vows to get revenge on Desdemona and Cassio with the trust now broken. Othello also makes Iago the new lieutenant (Iago’s manipulative plan has worked perfectly).

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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