Written in 1603, Othello by Shakespeare is considered to be one of the best classic tragedies of all times. Othello, the protagonist of the tragedy, the moor of Venice is trapped in the conspiracies of his competitors and subordinates.

The play ends with the suicide of Othello and raises the feeling of pity among the readers and those who watch the play. The play Othello comprises 5 acts each playing a significant part in the development of the plot.

Othello Plot Summary

The play opens up with a conversation between Roderigo (Desdemona’s suitor), and Iago who is a soldier. Both of them have their own reasons for enmity with Othello and thus they decide to take revenge against him.

As the story moves forward we come to know that Othello and Desdemona (the Senator’s daughter), are secretly married. Rodrigo, who had asked Desdemona’s father for her hand in marriage plans to get her by his evil plans. He is accompanied by Iago who is angry with Othello because he has promoted Cassio above him.

Towards the end of the third act, the seed of doubt is sown in Othello’s mind when Desdemona’s
mistakenly loses her handkerchief (a gift given by Othello) which is later found by Emilia, Iago’s wife.

Iago convinces his wife to give him the handkerchief as he wishes to use it for the execution of his evil plans. He places the handkerchief in Cassio’s possession and tells Othello that Desdemona and Cassio are having an illicit affair.

To make him believe he asks Othello to notice Cassio’s reactions when his affair is mentioned. Othello mistakenly takes the conversation to be about Desdemona though it actually is about Cassio’s beloved Bianca.

Bianca also accuses Cassio of gifting her a second-hand gift. All of this makes his doubt firm against Desdemona and he gets enraged. He decides to kill his wife.

Being sick of Desdemona’s love, Roderigo blindly acts on Iago’s idea of killing Cassio. However, he manages to survive. Lodovico and Gratiano rush to help Cassio. Fearing that his plans may get exposed, Iago silently stabs Roderigo who dies.

In the final act, Othello kills Desdemona in the bed where they once made love. Emilia appears in the scene and reveals the true story and innocence of Desdemona. On knowing the truth, Othello regrets his actions. Overpowered by the guilt, he commits suicide.

Key Thoughts: Othello

The tragedy Othello by Shakespeare throws light on the protagonist’s Hamartia (the tragic flaw) that ultimately becomes the reason for his death. Unfaithfulness and jealousy go hand in hand in this story.

Enraged by the mere thought of an illicit affair of his wife with another man, Othello goes to the extent of killing his own beloved.

Read about the themes here.

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