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Othello is a tragedy play written by William Shakespeare during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and first performed in 1604.

Plot Overview Edit

During a meeting on a waterway street in Venice, Italy, the wealthy gentleman Roderigo becomes outraged by the incompetence of his friend Iago, whom he has recently paid to help him in his quest to win the heart of the delicate Desdemona, the daughter of Venetian senator Brabantio. The two friends see no progress in this goal, having just learned that Desdemona has already and secretly married Othello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army whom Iago not only serves as ensign but also hates for giving the title of commander to a younger army man named Cassio, who is considered less capable as a soldier. However, Iago has other plans for Othello made in his own advantage, and convinces Roderigo to wake Brabantio and tell him about his daughter's elopement. He then sneaks away to find Othello himself and warn him that his own father-in-law is coming for him.

Meanwhile, Brabantio is outraged and will not rest until he has Othello killed, but finds the Moor's residence full of the Duke of Venice's guards, who prevent violence. News arrives in Venice that the Turks are preparing to attack Cyprus, summoning Othello to advise the senators. Brabantio has no option but to accompany him to the Duke's residence, where he accuses the general of seducing Desdemona via witchcraft. Othello defends himself before the Duke, Brabantio's kinsmen Lodovico and Gratiano, and various senators, explaining that Desdemona became enamoured of him for the sad and compelling stories he has told of his life before Venice. The senate is satisfied once Desdemona confirms her love for Othello, but Brabantio leaves saying that she will betray her husband. By the Duke's order, Othello leaves Venice to command the Venetian armies against invading Turks on the island of Cyprus, accompanied by his new wife and Cassio, as well as Iago and his wife Emilia, who serves as Desdemona's attendant. The party arrives in Cyprus to find that a storm has destroyed the Turkish fleet. Othello orders a general celebration and leaves to consummate his marriage with Desdemona. In his absence, Iago gets Cassio drunk and persuades Roderigo to draw him into a fight with Montano, Othello's predecessor as governor of Cyprus. While trying to calm the angry Cassio, Montano is injured in the fight. Othello returns and blames Cassio for the disturbance, stripping him of his rank. Cassio is distraught, but Iago persuades him to importune Desdemona into convincing her husband to reinstate Cassio.

At his ensign's suggestion, Othello becomes suspicious of Cassio and Desdemona and vows for their deaths. When Desdemona drops a handkerchief (the first gift given to her by Othello), Emilia finds it, and gives it to her husband at his request, unaware of what he plans to do with it. Iago plants the handkerchief in Cassio's lodgings, then tells Othello to watch the former commander's reactions while questioning him. The ensign goads Cassio on to talk about his affair with his sweetheart Bianca, but whispers her name so quietly that Othello believes the two men are talking about Desdemona. Later, Bianca accuses Cassio of giving her a second-hand gift which he has received from another lover. Othello sees this, and Iago convinces him that Cassio must have received the handkerchief from Desdemona. Enraged and hurt, the Moorish general resolves to kill his wife and asks Iago to kill Cassio. He proceeds to make Desdemona's life miserable, hitting her in front of visiting Venetian nobles. Meanwhile, Roderigo complains that he has received no results from Iago in return for his money and efforts to win Desdemona, but Iago convinces him to kill Cassio. He attacks Cassio in the street after the latter leaves Bianca's lodgings, but Cassio wounds the attacker. During the scuffle, Iago comes from behind the commander using the darkness to hide his identity and badly cuts his leg. When Lodovico and Gratiano hear Cassio's cries for help, Iago joins them. Cassio identifies Roderigo as one of his attackers, and Iago secretly stabs Roderigo to stop him revealing the plot before accusing Bianca of the failed conspiracy to kill her sweetheart.

Othello confronts Desdemona, and strangles her to death in their bed. When Emilia arrives, he accuses Desdemona of adultery, but Montano arrives with Ludovico, Gratiano and Iago when Emilia cries for help. When he mentions the handkerchief as proof, Emilia realizes what her husband has done and exposes him, whereupon he kills her. Othello, belatedly realizing Desdemona's innocence, stabs his own ensign but not fatally, saying that he would rather have Iago live the rest of his life in pain. Iago refuses to explain his motives, vowing to remain silent from that moment on. Lodovico apprehends both Iago and Othello for the murders of Roderigo and Emilia, but Othello commits suicide. Lodovico appoints Gratiano as Othello's successor and exhorts Cassio to punish Iago justly.

v - e - d Plays
Tragedies
Titus Andronicus | Romeo and Juliet | Julius Caesar | Hamlet | Troilus and Cressida | Othello | King Lear | Macbeth | Timon of Athens | Antony and Cleopatra | Coriolanus | The Tempest
Comedies
All's Well That Ends Well | As You Like It | The Comedy of Errors | Love's Labour's Lost | Measure for Measure | The Merchant of Venice | The Merry Wives of Windsor | A Midsummer Night's Dream | Much Ado About Nothing | Pericles, Prince of Tyre | The Taming of the Shrew | The Tempest | Twelfth Night | The Two Gentlemen of Verona | The Two Noble Kinsmen | The Winter's Tale | Cymbeline
Histories
King John | Edward III | Richard II | Henry IV | Henry V | Henry VI | Richard III | Henry VIII | Coriolanus | Julius Caesar | Antony and Cleopatra | King Lear | Macbeth

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