Othello Scene Summaries

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Mainly taken from Sparknotes, but edited to make them shorter.

Act I Summary

 Scene I
Characters: Iago, Roderigo and Brabantio

It begins on a street in Venice, in the midst of an argument between Roderigo and Iago. The rich Roderigo has been paying Iago to help him in his conquest to Desdemona, but he has seen no progress, and has just learned that Desdemona has married Othello a general whom Iago serves as ensign). Iago reassures Roderigo that he hates Othello. Chief among Iago’s reasons for this hatred is Othello’s recent promotion of Michael Cassio to the post of lieutenant. As he waits for an opportunity to further his own self-interest, Iago only pretends to serve Othello. Iago advises Roderigo to spoil some of Othello’s pleasure in his marriage by rousing Desdemona’s father against the general. The two men come to the street outside the house of her father, Brabantio, and cry out that he has been robbed by “thieves.” Brabantio, a Venetian senator, appears. At first, he doesn’t believe what the allegations, because he has told Roderigo to stay away from his daughter before and thinks Roderigo is merely scheming once again. Iago speaks in inflammatory terms, vulgarly telling the senator that his daughter and Othello are having sex by saying that they are “making the beast with two backs” (I.i.118). Brabantio begins to take what he hears seriously and decides to search for his daughter. Seeing the success of his plan, Iago leaves Roderigo alone and goes to attend on Othello. Like Brabantio, Othello has no idea of Iago’s role in Roderigo’s accusations. As Iago departs, Brabantio comes out of his house, furious that his daughter has left him. Declaring that his daughter has been stolen from him by magic “charms,” Brabantio and his men follow Roderigo to Othello.

Scene II
Characters: Othello, Iago, Brabantio, Roderigo

Iago arrives at Othello’s lodgings, where he warns the general that Brabantio will not hesitate to attempt to force a divorce between Othello and Desdemona. Othello sees a party of men approaching, and Iago, thinking that Brabantio and his followers have arrived, counsels Othello to retreat indoors. Othello stands his ground, but the party turns out to be Cassio and officers from the Venetian court. They bring Othello the message that he is wanted by the duke of Venice about a matter concerning Cyprus. As Cassio and his men prepare to leave, Iago mentions that Othello is married, but before he can say any more, Brabantio, Roderigo, and other men arrive to accost Othello. Brabantio orders his men to attack and subdue Othello. A struggle between Brabantio and Othello’s followers seems imminent, but Othello brings the confrontation to a halt by calmly and authoritatively telling both sides to put up their swords. Hearing that the duke has summoned Othello to the court, Brabantio decides to bring his cause before the duke himself.

Scene III
Characters: Othello, Duke of Venice, Brabantio, Cassio, Iago, Roderigo, Desdemona,

The duke’s meeting with his


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