Acts summaries

Act 1

Scene 1 

William Shakespeare’s play Othello begins with Roderigo and Iago on their way to tell the senator Brabantio that his daughter Desdemona has run away with Othello, a Moorish commander. Iago hates Othello because Othello has promoted Michael Cassio as his lieutenant instead of Iago. Iago believes he deserved the promotion and that Cassio is not experienced enough, and has been promoted due to favoritism.

Iago and Roderigo reach Brabantio’s house and inform him that Desdemona and Othello have eloped. At first, Brabantio refuses to believe this, especially since Roderigo is in love with Desdemona, and Brabantio has told him to stay away from her. However, he soon discovers that Desdemona is not in the house.

Iago departs to meet Othello, because he does not want his commanding officer to find out about his betrayal just yet. Meanwhile, Brabantio plans to find Othello and confront him about Desdemona.

Scene 2

Iago informs Othello that Brabantio knows of his marriage to Desdemona and intends to undo it. He tells Othello that he should hide in his house, because Brabantio wants to harm him. Othello, however, refuses.

Cassio arrives and tells Othello that the Duke wants to speak to him, and that there is trouble in Cyprus. Brabantio arrives with his men and accuses Othello of seducing Desdemona. He and his men want to attack Othello, but Othello stops them and does not allow his own men to attack either. Brabantio discovers that the Duke has summoned Othello urgently to him and decides to come too, as he wants to make a formal accusation against Othello.

Scene 3

The Duke and his Senators are analyzing some reports about a Turkish fleet heading for Cyprus. However, a messenger arrives and says the fleet has been spotted heading for Rhodes. The Duke does not believe this, as he thinks Cyprus is a more likely objective for the Turks. Soon enough, another messenger arrives and confirms that the ships are, indeed, heading for Cyprus.

Othello and Brabantio arrive, and Brabantio complains to the Duke that his daughter has been bewitched. He accuses Othello of seducing his daughter using magic. Othello, however, denies this, and insists that Desdemona wanted to marry him and that she fell in love with him after hearing his tragic and adventurous life story. The Duke says that he needs proof of this.

Desdemona arrives with Iago. She confirms that she is indeed married to Othello now and that she loves him. The Duke declares the marriage legal. Brabantio warns Othello that, if Desdemona has tricked her father, there are chances that she will eventually trick Othello as well, but Othello is certain she is faithful to him.

The Duke informs Othello of the Turkish fleet and orders him to go to Cyprus immediately. Othello agrees. He intends to bring Desdemona, too, and entrusts her to Iago.

When Iago and Roderigo are again alone, Roderigo is depressed because he has realized Desdemona really loves Othello. He wants to commit suicide, but Iago tells him that, instead, he should get enough money to follow them to Cyprus and win Desdemona back.

Roderigo leaves, and Iago reveals that he is actually using Roderigo and that all that he cares about is destroying Othello. He intends to discredit Cassio and make it look as if Desdemona is deceiving Othello.

Act 2

Scene 1

Act 2 of William Shakespeare’s play Othello begins in Cyprus, with Montano and two gentlemen wondering what has happened to the Turkish fleet after a great storm. A third gentleman arrives and informs them that the Turkish fleet has been destroyed by the storm, and that a ship from Venice has just docked. Cassio, who came on the ship, informs of the destruction of the Turkish fleet. He is, however, worried about Othello, as his ship has not arrived yet.

Another ship reaches shore. Desdemona, Iago, and Emilia, Iago’s wife and Desdemona’s attendant, approach the group. Desdemona is worried about her husband. As they wait for news of Othello, they banter with each other. At one point, Cassio playfully takes Desdemona’s hand.

Othello finally arrives and tells everyone that the war with the Turks is over. He and Desdemona depart for the palace. Iago tells Roderigo that Desdemona is in love with Cassio. ...

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