Othello Summary provides a quick review of the play's
plot including every important action in the play. Othello
Summary is divided by the five acts of the play and
is an an ideal introduction before reading the original
Shakespeare's famous play of love turned bad by unfounded
jealousy, begins in Venice with Iago, a soldier under
Othello's command arguing with Roderigo, a wealthy
Venetian. Roderigo has paid Iago a considerable sum
of money to spy on Othello for him, since he wishes
to take Othello's girlfriend, Desdemona as his
Roderigo fears that Iago has not been telling him
enough about Desdemona and that this proves Iago's
real loyalty is to Othello not him.
Iago explains his hatred of Othello for choosing Cassio
as his officer or lieutenant and not him as he expected.
To regain Roderigo's trust, Iago and Roderigo
inform Brabantio, Desdemona's father of her relationship
with Othello, the "Moor" which enrages Brabantio
into sending parties out at night to apprehend Othello
for what must obviously be in Brabantio's eyes,
an abuse of his daughter by Othello...
Iago lies that Roderigo and not himself, was responsible
for angering Brabantio against Othello, Iago telling
Othello that he should watch out for Brabantio's
men who are looking for him.
Othello decides not to hide, since he believes his
good name will stand him in good stead.
We learn that Othello has married Desdemona. Brabantio
and Roderigo arrive, Brabantio accusing Othello of using
magic on his daughter.
Othello stops a fight before it can happen but Othello
is called away to discuss a crisis in Cypress, much
to the anger of Brabantio who wants justice for what
he believes Othello has done to his fair Desdemona.
The Duke is in council with several senators discussing
their enemy, the Turks (Turkish people). Brabantio complains
to the Duke that Othello bewitched his daughter and
had intimate relations with her.
Desdemona is brought in to settle the matter, Othello
meanwhile explains how he and Desdemona fell in love.
Desdemona confirms this and the Duke advises Brabantio
that he would be better off accepting the marriage than
complaining and changing nothing.
The Duke orders Othello to Cypress to fight the Turks,
with Desdemona to follow, accompanied by the trusted
Roderigo despairs that his quest for Desdemona is over
now that she is married, but Iago tells him not to give
up and earn money instead; soon Desdemona will bore
Alone, Iago reveals his intention to continue using
Roderigo for money and his hatred of Othello (Othello
picked Cassio and not Iago for his lieutenant).
Iago explains that his plan is avenge Othello is to
suggest to Othello that Cassio is sleeping with Desdemona
Several weeks later in Cypress, Montano and several
others are awaiting Othello's arrival by bark or
ship. We learn that a terrible storm has largely battered
and destroyed the Turkish fleet, which no longer poses
a threat to Cypress. Unfortunately there are fears that
this same storm drowned Othello as well.
Montano reveals his high praise of Othello, which
is shared by many. Cassio, who has arrived, sings Desdemona's
praises. A ship is spotted but it is Desdemona and Iago's
not Othello's. Iago suspects that Cassio loves
Desdemona and slyly uses it to his advantage.
Iago tells Roderigo that he still has a chance with
Desdemona but Cassio whom Desdemona could love is in
the way. Killing Cassio (who became Othello's lieutenant
instead of Iago) will leave Desdemona to Roderigo, Iago
Othello finally arrives to everyone's great relief.
Iago decides to tell Othello that Cassio is having an
affair with Desdemona's so Iago will be rewarded whilst
Cassio will be punished.
A Herald announces celebration that "our noble
general Othello!" has defeated the Turkish fleet,
calling on all to celebrate this great triumph and also
to celebrate Othello's "nuptial" or wedding
to the fair Desdemona.
Iago learns more of Cassio's high regard for
Desdemona and Iago manipulates Cassio into drinking
too much since he is certain Cassio will do something
he will regret.
With Cassio gone, Iago tells Montano of Cassio's
drinking problem turning Montano's high regard
for Cassio into dust. Iago also tells Roderigo to attack
Cassio. This happens, and Cassio wounds Roderigo and
then Montano who was trying to break up the fight.
Othello is now awake and Cassio's name ruined.
Othello though he loves Cassio, has no choice but to
demote him from his position as his lieutenant. Next
Iago comforts Cassio by suggesting he speak with Desdemona
who could put in a good word for him with Othello.
Iago comforts a wounded Roderigo, telling him he has
won by ruining Cassio's name. Iago has his wife
Emilia ensure Desdemona and Cassio will talk so Othello
can see his wife talking with Cassio, allowing Iago
to convince Othello that Desdemona is being unfaithful...
Cassio tells Iago that he has arranged to meet Desdemona,
Iago helping Cassio to do this.
Iago's wife, Emilia, tells Cassio that Othello
would like to reinstate him as his lieutenant but the
fact that Cassio's fight is public news, prevents Othello
from doing this immediately.
Emilia tells Cassio that she can arrange a meeting
Some time later, Cassio speaks with a very sympathetic
Desdemona who assures him that Othello still very much
loves Cassio. Furthermore, Desdemona resolves to keep
putting in a good word for Cassio until he is again
At a distance, Iago manipulates Othello by first suggesting
shock and then hiding his outbursts from Othello. This
guarantees Othello's attention, as Iago plants
seeds of doubt in Othello's mind about Desdemona's
fidelity especially where Cassio is concerned.
Iago leaves Othello almost convinced that his wife
is having an affair with Cassio.
Othello now complains of a headache to Desdemona, which
results in her dropping a strawberry patterned handkerchief,
Othello's first gift to her. Emilia picks this
up gives it to Iago who decides the handkerchief could
help his manipulation if he ensures Cassio receives
Iago arranges to place the handkerchief near Cassio's
lodgings or home where he is certain to find it and
take it as his own, unaware that it is Othello's
gift to Desdemona.
A furious Othello returns to Iago, certain his wife
is faithful and demanding proof from Iago of Desdemona's
Reluctantly and hesitantly, Iago tells Othello he saw
Cassio wipe his brow with Desdemona's handkerchief.
Othello is convinced, cursing his wife and telling Iago
who is now promoted to lieutenant to kill Cassio. Othello
will deal with Desdemona...
Desdemona worries about her missing handkerchief and
comments that if she lost it, it could lead Othello
doubting her fidelity. Emilia when asked about Desdemona's
lost handkerchief, lies, denying having seen the handkerchief
she picked up and gave to Iago.
Othello enters; asking Desdemona for the very same
handkerchief and Desdemona assures him that the handkerchief
is not lost and will be found.
Desdemona now tries to change the subject to Cassio,
but Othello continually stresses the value the handkerchief
has to him, this leading to Othello angrily ordering
his wife away.
Cassio arrives, Desdemona telling him that her attempts
to help him are not going well. Iago claims total ignorance
to the cause of Othello's fury.
Cassio gives Othello's handkerchief, which he
found, to his suspicious mistress Bianca who reluctantly
starts to copy its patterning (presumably its strawberry
motif / design) for him.
Iago fans the flames of Othello's distrust and
fury with Desdemona's supposed "infidelity"
by first suggesting Desdemona shared her bed with Cassio
and then that her giving away the handkerchief is no
big deal when Iago knows exactly how hurtful to Othello,
giving away this sentimental gift is.
Next Iago suggests to Othello that Cassio will "blab"
or gloat to others about his conquest of Desdemona before
telling Othello that Cassio boasted to him that he did
indeed sleep with Desdemona.
Meeting later with Cassio, Iago cunningly talks to
Cassio about Cassio's mistress Bianca, each smile
and each gesture made by Cassio infuriating a hidden
Othello who thinks Cassio is talking about sleeping
with Desdemona (Othello's wife).
Next Bianca (Cassio's mistress) arrives, angrily giving
back the handkerchief Cassio gave to her.
This infuriates Othello since as Iago puts it, Cassio
not only received Othello's handkerchief from his
wife but then gave it away to his whore (Bianca) as
if it were worthless.
Othello decides to kill Desdemona by strangulation
in her bed, Iago's idea. Iago pledges to kill Cassio.
Lodovico arrives, announcing that Othello is to return
home and Cassio is to be the next Governor of Cypress.
Desdemona's joy for Cassio enrages Othello, leaving
Lodovico and Iago to wonder how much Othello seems to
have changed and leaving poor Desdemona to wonder how
she offended the man she truly loves...
Othello questions Emilia as to whether Desdemona was
unfaithful to him. Annoyed that Emilia's answers suggest
nothing has happened between Desdemona and Cassio, Othello
dismisses her comments as those of a simple woman.
Othello meets Desdemona, Desdemona becoming increasingly
upset with her husband's anger towards her, an
anger she cannot understand.
Othello eventually reveals to Desdemona that her infidelity
is the source of his anger, Desdemona pleading her innocence
on deaf ears.
Emilia and Desdemona discuss Othello's strange
behavior. Emilia is certain some evil fellow has twisted
Othello to believe Desdemona has been unfaithful, not
realizing that this evil man is her own husband Iago.
We learn that Iago has been pocketing Roderigo's
gifts to Desdemona, which never reached her. Fearing
Roderigo will learn this, Iago tells Roderigo that Cassio
must die since Iago benefits if ever man dies.
Lodovico tries to calm Othello down. Othello orders
Desdemona to bed to await him later, an order Desdemona
dutifully obeys out of love for Othello.
Emilia notices that Othello is much calmer now and
tells Desdemona her bed has been made with her wedding
sheets as requested. Desdemona asks to be buried in
those same sheets should she die before Emilia, a hint
of trouble ahead (Foreshadowing).
Emilia is barred from joining Desdemona in her bedchamber,
angering her. Desdemona, depressed, recalls a song (The
Willow Song) of a maid who was similarly abused by her
husband and sings it.
Desdemona and Emilia talk about infidelity. Desdemona
would not be unfaithful to her husband (Othello) for
all the world; the more cynical and worldly Emilia
would for the right price...
Iago and Roderigo wait in a street to ambush Cassio.
Iago tells Roderigo how to kill him. Iago does not care
which ends up dead. Iago is worried that about Roderigo's
increasing questioning of what happened to jewels that
were given to him to pass on to Desdemona...
Roderigo attacks Cassio but Cassio wounds Roderigo
instead. Iago from behind stabs Cassio, wounding him
in the leg. Othello hearing Cassio's cries is pleased,
announcing that he too will soon kill (Desdemona).
Lodovico and Gratiano and Iago reappear, Iago claiming
total innocence to Cassio's injuries even though
he inflicted them.
Seizing Roderigo, Iago stabs and wounds him "in
revenge" for wounding his "friend" Cassio.
Gratiano and Lodovico tend to Cassio's wound.
Bianca, Cassio's mistress arrives, Iago cleverly
laying suspicion for Cassio's injuries on his innocent
mistress, making Iago less suspicious...
Othello enters Desdemona's bedchamber (bedroom)
trying to convince himself that he is killing her for
her own good. He kisses his still asleep wife one last
time. Desdemona awakens, but Othello will still kill
her, telling her to pray so her soul will not die when
Desdemona again asks what wrong she has committed,
Othello telling her that she gave Cassio his handkerchief,
by which he means he thinks she had an affair with him.
Desdemona pleads her innocence, telling Othello to
bring Cassio over to prove she did not give away her
handkerchief. Othello says he confessed and is dead,
Desdemona's fear and surprise prompting Othello
to believe she does care for him.
Othello kills Desdemona.
Emilia banging on the door outside cannot stop this.
Later Emilia is let in, revealing Iago has killed Roderigo
and Desdemona who was thought dead, murmurs her last
breaths but loyally does not say Othello killed her.
Othello tells Emilia he killed her and Emilia despite
Iago's attempts to remove her reveals the truth
about the handkerchief; she found it, and then gave
it to Iago. Iago now in trouble, stabs his wife Emilia
Emilia dies, singing the "Willow Song" before
criticizing Othello for killing his loving wife.
Lodovico, Montano, Cassio and the now captured prisoner
Iago soon appear, Othello stabbing Iago but not killing
him before having his sword removed.
Lodovico is disappointed that Othello, a man so honorable
has reverted to acting like a slave. Othello tries to
argue that killing his wife was a noble action but it
falls on deaf ears.
Lodovico learns that Othello and Iago plotted Cassio's
death. Lodovico reveals letters in the dead Roderigo's
pocket proving Cassio was to be killed by Roderigo.
Iago proudly confirms that Cassio did find the handkerchief
in his bedchamber because Iago placed it there to be
Othello, realizing what he has done, kills himself
with a concealed weapon and lies himself on top of his
Cassio is placed in charge of Iago and Lodovico leaves
to discuss this sad matter with others abroad...