Othello: Summary, Characters, Themes

Published on 24-Sep-2022

Othello

Othello is one of the famous tragedy play written by the greatest playwright William Shakespeare. The play was performed on stage in London back in the year 1603 with the actors from King's Men. The contemporary story was set in the late 14th century during the Ottoman and Venetian war. Shakespeare brings out the play's themes of racism, jealousy, betrayal, justice, and heroism. 

Characters: 

  • Iago: The antagonist of the play. His greed for taking the captain's position leads him to destroy Othello's life and everyone around him. In the end, Iago succeeds in his evil plans but loses his life too. 
  • Othello: The protagonist of the play. His gullible nature makes him too easy to be controlled by Iago and implant jealousy against his wife.
  • Desdemona: Othello's young and beautiful wife. Even though Desdemona truly loves him, Othello's insecurity about being older than her makes him paranoid, and in the end, Othello ends up murdering his wife. 
  • Brabantio: Desdemona's father. He was against the marriage of his fair daughter to a Black Moor. He had no choice but to accept when his daughter eloped with Othello and got married in secret.
  • Roderigo: He is a young businessman attracted to Desdemona and wants to marry her. He hated Othello for snatching her away. Iago used Roderigo giving him false hopes about Desdemona, and took money from him in return. 
  • Emilia: Emilia is Iago's wife. She serves Desdemona sincerely but doesn't realize she is also being used by her husband, Iago. 
  • Cassio: Othello's lieutenant. He is a young and handsome soldier devoted to Othello. Iago uses Cassio's good looks to make Othello believe that Desdemona cheated on him with Cassio. 

Othello Complete Summary

The story begins with Othello coming back to Venice after winning another battle. The town senator, Brabantio, invites Othello to his house for a meal as gratitude. The civilized town of Venice respected Othello and admired his captaincy in the Venetian army despite being a black man.

The senator's daughter, lady Desdemona falls for Othello after secretly listening to his stories of bravery in a warzone. She comes and talks with Othello when Brabantio is not present in the house. Othello also falls in love with Desdemona for her innocence and sentiments. They decide to marry each other, but Brabantio is entirely against it. He tries to find white young men as suitors for Desdemona.

However, Desdemona escapes from the house with Othello, and the two get married secretly. After the wedding, the governor, the senator, and father of the bride, and the whole town accepted the marriage between a fair woman and a black man.

After learning about the marriage between Othello and Desdemona, Roderigo picks up a fight with Iago. Roderigo pays Iago a lot of money to make sure Desdemona notices Roderigo and falls for him, but their plan fails. Iago still reassures Roderigo and promises Desdemona will soon leave the black Moor and marry Roderigo instead. Iago served as a low-rank officer for Othello and secretly hated him. He believed Othello had an affair with his wife, Emilia. As revenge, he was going to take Desdemona away from Othello. 

 After the wedding, Othello was instantly ordered to go to Cyprus to fight the Turks. Desdemona insisted she would come along too. Othello leaves first with Cassio for the battle. Desdemona follows later, taking another ship with Iago, Emilia, and Roderigo. After reaching Cyprus, Desdemona meets Cassio, but Othello is not there.

Cassio tells her there was a storm, and the ship was wrecked. Anxious, Desdemona worried about her husband's return, and Cassio comforted her by holding her hands. Iago noticed that and planned to make Othello jealous using his right-hand man, young Cassio. When Othello returns after a victorious battle, he orders a feast for everyone. Desdemona and Othello leave together to recover from the journey. 

At the feast, Iago gets Cassio drunk and instigates Roderigo to pick a fight with drunken Cassio. When people try to stop the war, Cassio stabs the governor, and Roderigo escapes the scene. Othello was alarmed in the middle of the night and saw the injured governor and drunken Cassio. He demoted Cassio from the lieutenant position and sent the governor to be treated. 

The next day Iago tells Othello that Desdemona is upset because he demoted Cassio. Iago persuades the confused husband that Desdemona secretly has a physical relationship with Cassio. Othello threatens to kill Iago if his statement is a lie. On the other hand, guilty Cassio went to Desdemona to ask for her help. He requests her to talk with Othello and forgive his drunken mistake.

Othello witnesses the two together in the room and starts to believe Iago's accusation. To ultimately persuade Othello, Iago asks his wife Emilia to steal Desdemona's embroidered handkerchief that Othello gave her as a wedding gift. Emilia did as she was told but did not trust her husband enough to give it to him.

Iago bought another exact-looking handkerchief and left it in Cassio's room. Iago tells Othello that he will catch Desdemona in the act and prove it to him. He takes Othello near Cassio's house, where Cassio is discussing the beautiful handkerchief with his lover, Bianca. Iago tells Othello that Cassio meets lady Desdemona in secret like this behind his back. Othello now ultimately believes Desdemona cheated on him and disrespected the wedding gift just like their holy relationship. Othello orders Iago to kill Cassio in front of him in return for the lieutenant position.

Iago brings Roderigo to kill Cassio. When Cassio escapes after getting stabbed, Iago kills Roderigo to get rid of the evidence, and Roderigo realizes Iago was lying to him all this time. Othello mistakes the death of Roderigo as Cassio leaves the scene. In the house, he meets his wife Desdemona waiting for him. Othello feels disgusted and angry without knowing the truth. He murders Desdemona by suffocating her with a pillow. Emilia entered the room and started crying, watching her lady's corpse.

He told Othello how he was a fool to trust Iago and fall into his plans. Emilia shows him the handkerchief and tells Othello how Iago wanted to take it but couldn't. Iago returns and kills Emilia for telling the truth and flees. In the hall, injured Cassio returns with evidence of Roderigo's letters sent to Iago. The notes state every plan of Iago to destroy the marriage of Othello and Desdemona.

The guards captured Iago, who succeeded in his dreams and was happy. Othello felt broken and foolish for not trusting his wife till the end. In the end, he killed himself in front of everybody. Iago was sent to be executed by the guards.

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