Othello, Quotes, Act Guides

Act 1 scene 1 Iago tells Roderigo that he has been passed over for promotion by his commander, Othello, who has appointed instead the inexperienced Cassio as his lieutenant. Iago is now Othello’s ensign, a much lowlier position.-Othello has secretly married Desdemona -Iago and Roderigo are at her home to awaken her father, Brabantio, to tell him the unwelcome news. Brabantio reminds Roderigo that he has refused to let Roderigo marry his daughter, but when he discovers that she has instead run off with Othello, he admits he would have preferred Roderigo to have been her husband. Brabantio is very angry and plans to have Othello arrested.things to look for:Iago’s speech starting from ‘Three great ones …’ until ‘..his Moorship’s ancient.’ Write notes about the following:What tone of voice would Iago use?What reasons does he give for being aggrieved at not getting promotion?How does he show his jealousy of Cassio?Knowing Iago’s thoughts and attitude, what do you think he is trying to achieve through his subsequent speeches to Roderigo and Brabantio?
“mere prattle without practice” act 1 scene 1-IagoIago conveys his own military experience but dismisses Cassio’s authority as baby’s talk.
“trimm’d in forms and visages of duty .. I am not what I am” act 1 scene 1-IagoIago is associated with the recurring theme of false appearances and duplicity, the means by which he will wreak revenge.
“What a full fortune does the thick-lips owe” Act 1 scene 1-BrabantioBrabantio clearly believes that Desdemona has been seduced by Othello’s wealth, an idea that will re-emerge later. His sneer about his rival’s appearance suggests he cannot contemplate Desdemona’s genuine physical attraction to Othello.
“old black ram / Is tupping your white ewe … covered with a Barbary horse” Act 1 scene 1- IagoIago demonstrates his own depravity by portraying Othello’s marriage as bestial mating, also emphasising the darkness (physical and potentially moral) of the perpetrator.
“Another of his fathom” act 1 scene 1-IagoA fathom is the naval measurement for the depth of the sea. Iago grudgingly admits that no one else has Othello’s depth of experience.
Act 1 scene 2 Iago pretends to Othello that he is concerned for him and he warns Othello about Brabantio’s intentions. Othello reassures Iago of his love for Desdemona and refuses to hide from his pursuers. Cassio arrives to summon Othello to the Duke, who is meeting his advisers to decide what to do about a rumoured invasion of Cyprus by the Turkish navy. Brabantio arrives, intending to have Othello arrested, but Othello informs him of the Duke’s summons, which must be obeyed before anything else
“I had thought .. ribs” Act 1 scene 2Iago shows his duplicity here by pretending to be Othello’s friend and angry at Brabantio, when actually he has already shown us in Scene 1 that he hates Othello. Iago is clearly duplicitous here and throughout the play.
“my demerits / May speak unbonneted” Act 1 scene 2Othello’s natural merits/skills are on equal terms to the status he has achieved.
“But that I love ..For the sea’s worth” Act 1 scene 2Othello clearly shows here that his love for Desdemona is genuine and deep.
“Damned as thou art .. out of warrant.” Act 1 scene 2Brabantio here voices the opinion of many that Othello could only have attracted Desdemona by witchcraft. He also insults Othello concerning his skin colour and his social position.
Act 1 scene 3 -It becomes clear that the Turks are going to attack Cyprus-Brabantio accuses Othello os stealing his daughter before the Duke-Othello says he does not possess the the gift of smooth words needed to woo a high-born noble woman, but rather it was his stories of death and adventure that wound Desdemona into his grasp-Desdemona freely states her love and devotion to Othello; thus defeating Brabantio’s claims-Othello and Desdemona leave for Cyprus-Iago reassures Roderigo that Desdemona will soon tire of her husband; Iago proclaims his hatred for Othello
“You are the lord of duty, .. Due to the Moor my lord.” act 1 scene 3-DesdemonaDesdemona here is showing the traditional transfer of allegiance from her father to her husband when she marries. The Bible makes it clear that children were to obey their parents in the Ten Commandments, but also instructed wives to treat their husbands as their head, to whom they should submit.
“No, when light-winged toys / Of feathered Cupid .. Make head against my estimation.” act 1 scene 3Othello Othello here reassures the Duke that, though he loves Desdemona as much as any new bridegroom should, he would never neglect his duty to fight in his country’s wars.
“She has deceived her father, and may thee.” act 1 scene 3BrabantioBrabantio plants in Othello’s mind an almost prophetic seed of doubt about Desdemona’s faithfulness, a thought which will haunt Othello when they get to Cyprus.
“And it is thought abroad that twixt my sheets he has done my office” Act 1 scene 3IagoIago suspects that Othello has had sex with Iago’s wife. This suspicion is hardly credible and there is no evidence for such a preposterous idea.
“hell and night / Must bring this monstrous birth to the world’s light” act 1 scene 3IagoIago’ s schemes to destroy Othello’s reputation and marriage are evil and associated with hell and metaphorical darkness.
Act 2 scene 1 -in cyprus-Iago, Desdemona and Emilia discuss the virtues and values of women, and Iago shows his disparagement of females. While Cassio and Desdemona stand apart, Iago cynically interprets their body language as evidence of their mutual attraction and a sign that he can convince Othello of their adultery.
“a maid / That paragons description” Act 2 scene 1In describing Desdemona, Cassio uses the extreme praise that was associated with a courtier paying homage to an unattainable object of devotion.
“you had not kissed your three fingers so oft, .. an excellent courtesy,” Act 2 scene 1iagoCassio is here showing Desdemona the loyal devotion of a medieval courtier; kissing hands and curtseying was a common thing to do in courtly circles and had no sinister connotations, despite the way in which Iago interprets it. Iago’s speech is full of soft alliteration and sibilants, punctuated by harsh consonants.
“When the blood is made dull .. some second choice.” Speaking prose, Iago states that Desdemona must grow tired of her husband as soon as they have had their sexual fulfilment and will then look for another man to mate with. He equates human love with gluttony and bestial lust, either to convince Roderigo or because he really believes it himself.
Act 2 scene 2 Othello’s herald announces an evening of partying to celebrate both the defeat of the Turkish fleet and Othello’s own recent marriage.
Act 2 scene 3 -Iago persuades cassio to get drunk, and then roderigo provokes him into fighting. Montano arrives to mediate, but is then attacked and injured by Cassio-The alarm is sung, and Othello arrives, asking what happened, and Iago being the only one able to comment reveals Cassio’s alcohol-induced quarrelsome behaviour. Othello strips Cassio of his lieutenancy.-Iago consoles Cassio (who mourns the loss of his good name), and encourages him to believe that he will be reinstated as Othello’s lieutenant, especially if he confides in Desdemona and asks her to plead for him to her husband. Cassio thanks him, completely trusting his judgement. Alone, Iago congratulates himself on how well his plot is going. He then reassures Roderigo that things are going well and plots to use Emilia in his scheming.
“like bride and groom / Devesting them for bed .. opposition bloody.” act 2 scene 3iagoIago’s simile of innocent love turned murderous prefigures the tragedy to come.
to renounce his baptism, / All seals and symbols of redeemed sin, / His soul is so enfetter’d to her love .. Divinity of hell! act 2 scene 3iago Iago’s devilish nature is made clear by his desire to overturn the solemn sacrament of baptism by which Christians believe themselves to be saved from damnation.
“When devils will the blackest sins put on, / They do suggest at first with heavenly shows “ act 2 scene 3iago Iago makes his association with Satan even clearer – Lucifer was believed to be a fallen angel whose dazzling brightness concealed evil intentions.
“virtue into pitch” act 2 scene 3iagoIago, as a creature of moral darkness, turns the ‘fair’, moral uprightness of Desdemona as black as tar.
Act 3 scene 1 and 2 Scene 1 begins with some bantering, word play and punning, mostly from the clown, a minor character. Cassio asks the clown to fetch Emilia to see him, but Iago arrives and promises not only to send Emilia to him but also to devise it so that Cassio can have some private conversation with Desdemona. Emilia sympathises with Cassio’s plight and is confident that he will be restored. She too offers to arrange an opportunity for him to talk privately to Desdemona. In Scene 2, Othello sends Iago on a mundane errand, but instructs him to return straightaway.
“I never knew a Florentine more kind and honest.” act 3 scene 1cassioCassio, like everyone else except Emilia, is fooled by Iago’s apparent friendliness and willingness to help.
“he loves you, / And needs no other suitor but his likings” act 3 scene 1emilia The irony Emilia reveals is that Othello was already inclined to forgive Cassio; thus the further (tragic) intervention of Desdemona and Emilia was not required. It also portrays Othello as a man led by his feelings.
Act 3 scene 3 Desdemona tells Cassio that she will do everything she can to have him reinstated as lieutenant, and will not stop pleading for him until he is restored. As Othello arrives, Cassio leaves because he is too ashamed to face him. Desdemona begs Othello to reinstate Cassio and insists he set a time to do it. Othello admits he can deny her nothing and expresses his adoration of her as she leaves.-Immediately, Iago starts to undermine Othello’s confidence in his new wife by subtle hints, questions and suggestions. These slowly prey on Othello’s mind until he demands to know Iago’s thoughts and suspicions. Iago pretends to be reluctant but warns Othello against jealousy. Othello states his confidence in Desdemona’s faithfulness until he has proof otherwise. Iago tells him to observe Cassio when he is with Desdemona and reminds him that she deceived her father in marrying him. At this point, Iago falsely tries to reassure Othello, knowing it will have the opposite effect.-Alone, Othello shows he trusts Iago more than Desdemona. She arrives and soothes his headache with a precious handkerchief, which had been his first gift to her. This is accidentally dropped (later), to be retrieved by Emilia, who passes it to Iago as previously he had asked her numerous times to acquire it. Iago decides to hide the handkerchief in Cassio’s room. -When Othello returns, Iago pretends to dissuade him from dwelling on Desdemona’s sexual sins, but Othello’s suspicions grow into a furious rage in which he threatens Iago with eternal damnation if he is lying. Iago responds by torturing Othello with the idea of watching Cassio and Desdemona having sex. When Othello demands some proof of her falseness, Iago lies about a night when Cassio supposedly admitted to the affair in his sleep. He says he’s seen Cassio use Desdemona’s handkerchief. Now totally convinced of her adultery, Othello swears he will not rest until he gets revenge. Iago kneels with him and swears his loyalty and obedience to Othello’s service. Othello tells him to kill Cassio; Iago agrees but pleads for Desdemona’s life.
“I warrant it grieves my husband … O that’s an honest fellow.” act 3 scene 3With increasing dramatic irony, both Emilia and Desdemona are convinced of Iago’s honesty.
“Nothing, my lord: or if – I know not what” act 3 scene 3Iago here shows his mastery of the accidental suggestion. He pretends to be covering up his slip of the tongue, when in fact every word he said was deliberate and pre-meditated.
“I cannot think it / That he would steal away so guilty-like” act 3 scene 3By stating his belief that Cassio is not guilty, Iago deliberately puts the thought of guilt in Othello’s mind.
“For if .. I have no judgment in an honest face.” act 3 scene 3As people of integrity, both Desdemona and Othello (foolishly) believe surface appearance denotes inner reality.
“Excellent wretch, perdition catch my soul / But I do love thee, and when I love thee not, / Chaos is come again.” act 3 scene 3The initial oxymoron encapsulates the theme of Othello’s damnation through pure love. Othello is prepared to lose his eternal salvation just to love Desdemona, but then fatefully and ironically prophesies his own doom if his love should fail.
“Did Michael Cassio … Know of your love?” act 3 scene 3Iago begins a series of questions and innuendos, each designed to place a seed of doubt or suspicion in Othello’s mind. The words honest and think reverberate until their meaning is clouded.
“My lord, you know I love you.” act 3 scene 3 Iago is making sure that Othello is still gullible to his lies by reminding Othello that he is thought trustworthy and completely honest. There is a suggestion of soldierly loyalty here, whereby comrades in arms will always trust each other more than they would anybody in civilian life (and Othello and Iago have served together many years). Thus Othello would expect to be able to trust Iago, a fellow soldier, more than he would his own wife. The balance of power is shifting in Iago’s favour.
“But he that filches from me my good name” act 3 scene 3Ironically, the views Iago expresses here are the exact opposite of the opinion he gives Cassio in Act 2 Scene 3, the ‘reputation’ speech. This shows again Iago’s hypocrisy and duplicity.
“damned minutes .. / Who dotes, yet doubts; suspects, yet soundly loves!” act 3 scene 3 Iago’s use of alliteration highlights the tension he is creating for Othello. For a man of action, who likes certainty, to teeter between being not jealous, nor secure regarding Desdemona is indeed a ‘damned’ place to be.
“No, Iago, I’ll see before I doubt” act 3 scene 3By admitting the possibility of his being wrong, Othello is already on the way to believing Iago’s lies.
“She did deceive her father, marrying you,” act 3 scene 3Iago plays his master stroke. He repeats what Brabantio said in Act 1 Scene 3, that Desdemona married Othello without her father’s knowledge or permission, so therefore she might deceive her husband as well. Iago conveniently forgets that Desdemona only gave up her duty to her father because of her much stronger love for Othello.
“haggard .. jesses .. whistle .. prey” act 3 scene 3Othello employs the lexis of hawking, describing his wife as an untamed (perhaps untamable) hawk whom he will have to relinquish.
“poisons .. Burn like mines of sulphur” act 3 scene 3Shakespeare’s audience would immediately connect Iago’s deceit with the work of Satan, ruler of hell, a place which is described as burning like sulphur.
“give me the ocular proof,” act 3 scene 3Othello is asking the impossible, to be able to see his wife committing adultery. Such a gross idea shows how Othello’s mind is now tortured by bestial images which have destroyed his world of love and faithfulness.
“If thou dost slander her and torture me, / Never pray more .. damnation” act 3 scene 3Othello is here warning Iago of the eternal punishment he will suffer if he is lying. Firmly believing in hell, Shakespeare’s audience would shudder at the consequences for Iago of ignoring this threat of damnation by continuing to deceive and torment Othello.
“O grace ..” act 3 scene 3ago’s hasty speech and wild apostrophizing indicate real anxiety at the physical threat offered by Othello.
“fresh .. begrimed .. black” act 3 scene 3Othello’s growing jealousy and anger is conveyed in images of fairness (associated with virtue) becoming darkened (associated with evil). This will culminate in Othello’s own black vengeance.
“honest .. satisfied” act 3 scene 3The reverberation of these words starts to rob them of clear meaning – Othello’s ‘satisfaction’ can never be attained. Othello employs images of violence, which Iago goads with images of animality.
“Now do I see .. “ act 3 scene 3Othello’s speech is full of contrasts, as he expels his virtues and replaces them with vices: vengeance for love, hell (the ‘hollow cell’) instead of heaven, hatred for love, snake venom instead of breast milk.
“but let her live” act 3 scene 3Despite seeming to argue against it, Iago subtly leads Othello’s thoughts towards the murder of Desdemona.
“I am your own for ever.” act 3 scene 3Iago has achieved his longed for promotion and has now become the ‘worser part’ of his commander, as Othello relinquishes his moral conscience to Iago’s twisted perspective.
Act 3 scene 4 n a complete shift of dramatic mood after the preceding scene, Desdemona has a witty exchange with the clown last encountered in Act 3 Scene 1. She is looking for Cassio, but is also concerned that she has lost the handkerchief which Othello gave her. When Othello arrives, she again pleads Cassio’s cause whilst Othello asks after the handkerchief. When she cannot produce it, Othello leaves in a bad temper. Cassio arrives with Iago and urgently pleads with Desdemona to persuade Othello to restore him as lieutenant. She and Emilia discuss why Othello is in a bad mood, Desdemona innocently thinking it must be work pressures whilst Emilia cynically sees it as a husband’s typical loss of passion once married – wives simply become a possession to guard jealously.Cassio meets Bianca (a sex worker with whom he is having a casual relationship) and assures her of his affection, in spite of her complaining that he has been neglecting her. When he asks her to unpick the stitching of a handkerchief he has found in his room, she jealously assumes that he has a new girlfriend. He dismisses her as he is waiting for Othello.
“They are all but stomachs” act 3 scene 4This unpleasant metaphor gives a very negative picture of men and their attitude towards women. It also tells us a lot about Emilia’s attitude towards men in general and Iago in particular.
“But now I find I had suborned the witness, / And he’s indicted falsely.” act 3 scene 4Desdemona’s metaphor here is that she herself has accused Othello too harshly. She is accusing her own soul of judging him falsely and feels guilty at her own treachery.
“But jealous for they are jealous.” act 3 scene 4Emilia is here suggesting that some men have a natural inclination towards jealousy, even without any justification for it.
Act 4 scene 1 Iago continues to taunt Othello with the thought of Desdemona’s adultery, imagining her in bed with Cassio, whom Iago claims has boasted of his affair with her. Othello is so tortured in his mind that he falls into a trance or epileptic fit. Cassio arrives and Iago asks him to return when Othello is recovered. He then arranges for Othello to eavesdrop the conversation he will have with Cassio. When Cassio returns, Iago questions him about his relationship with Bianca, knowing that Othello will think that they are talking about Desdemona. Cassio talks flippantly of Bianca, a sex worker, further enraging Othello who believes Cassio is treating Desdemona like a prostitute while she dotes on Cassio like a loose woman. Bianca’s mention of the handkerchief adds to Othello’s anger.When Cassio has gone, Othello wants only to murder him and Desdemona. Iago encourages this, suggesting that strangling her is the best method. Lodovico arrives from Venice accompanied by Desdemona, with a letter commanding Othello to return home, leaving Cassio to govern Cyprus. Desdemona hopes Lodovico can reconcile Othello and Cassio. Othello overhears their conversation and misinterprets her words as referring to her sexual passion for Cassio. Eventually Othello hits her in his rage, astounding Lodovico, who urges him to apologise to Desdemona. Othello then makes lewd comments about her, suggesting she is promiscuous, sends her away and leaves himself.Lodovico is amazed at Othello’s behaviour and when Iago implies that Othello often behaves in such a cruel and violent manner, Lodovico believes his lies and regrets ever having trusted Othello.
“The devil their virtue tempts, and they tempt heaven.” Act 4 scene 1Extra-marital sex is regarded as a sin which the devil wants to encourage.
“A horned man’s a monster and a beast.” act 4 scene 1This alludes to:the traditional image of a man given horns to show that he is a cuckold, i.e. a husband whose wife has been unfaithfulOthello’s loss of reason which makes him no better than a beast/animal.
“the pity of it .. I will chop her into messes” act 4 scene 1Shakespeare makes his audience switch between compassion and abhorrence towards Othello.Which is the real Othello?
“strangle .. Good, good; the justice .. undertaker .. Excellent good.” act 4 scene 1 In the twisted moral universe Iago has created for Othello, evil is goodness, goodness, evil.
“this would not be believ’d in Venice” act 4 scene 1 Lodovico’s arrival reminds the audience of Othello’s political prestige and highlights the extent to which his thinking/behaviour has become warped.
“noble Moor .. Whom passion could not shake?” act 4 scene 1One of the reasons Lodovico is amazed at Othello’s behaviour is that Othello had a reputation of being impervious to fickle fancies and emotions. He was known as a man of stone but is now seen as a man completely at the mercy of unreliable feelings.
Act 4 scene 2 Othello interrogates Emilia to discover any evidence of misdemeanours between Desdemona and Cassio and does not believe her testimony that Desdemona is virtuous. He summons his wife, asking Emilia to leave, then confronts Desdemona and, despite her protestations of loyalty, calls her a *****. After his departure, Emilia returns with Iago. Desdemona is dazed, understanding only that she has somehow lost her husband. Ironically, Iago commiserates, whilst Emilia is convinced that some scoundrel has deliberately slandered her mistress. Asking Iago for advice, Desdemona kneels to swear her constant love for Othello, even if he divorces her, which she now expects, then she and her maid leave.Roderigo arrives and complains bitterly to Iago that he is no nearer winning Desdemona’s love, despite his lavish gifts, so plans to ask for them back and give up. Iago turns Roderigo’s anger on its head by claiming that his determination will win Desdemona. Were he to kill Cassio, Othello and Desdemona would have to stay in Cyprus and Roderigo would be able to woo her. Iago will arrange for Cassio to be at a certain place that night, when Roderigo can conveniently kill him.
“Let heaven requite it with the serpent’s curse” Act 4 scene 2Emilia is unwittingly condemning her husband.
“Come, swear it, damn thyself” act 4 scene 2 Oaths invoking God were taken very seriously; to swear such an oath dishonestly would incur condemnation not just from Othello but from God, meaning that Desdemona’s eternal life would be in jeopardy.
“try me with affliction .. sores .. poverty” act 4 scene 2 Othello recalls the suffering seen in Job, an Old Testament narrative about maintaining faith despite enduring hardship. Just as the audience was familiar with sympathy for Job (who had unhelpful ‘friends’), so they feel for Othello in his emotional distress.
“black weed .. lovely fair” act 4 scene 2 The oxymorons illustrate Othello’s conflicted emotions
“I took you for that cunning ***** of Venice “ act 4 scene 2In Othello’s mind, Desdemona’s identity has been entirely subsumed by her (supposed) promiscuity.
“forsook .. noble matches, / Her father .. country .. friends” act 4 scene 2The enormity of Desdemona’s social sacrifices for love of Othello also highlights how isolated and vulnerable she now is.
“Here I kneel.” act 4 scene 2This is the strongest way in which Desdemona can stress that she is completely innocent, kneeling being associated with prayer and petitioning, as she reaffirms her love and faithfulness to Othello.
Act 4 scene 3 This quiet bedroom scene is ‘the calm before the storm’. While Othello conducts business with Lodovico, he tells Desdemona to go to bed and send Emilia away for the night. Emilia and Desdemona discuss Othello’s behaviour and while Emilia wishes that Desdemona had never seen him, Desdemona will not criticise him, saying that nothing he can do will stop her loving him. Desdemona is mournful as she prepares for bed and sings a melancholy song. The two women discuss the female potential for infidelity to their husbands. Though Emilia admits that she would be unfaithful if she could profit sufficiently by it, Desdemona states that nothing would ever entice her to be unfaithful to her husband. Emilia believes that women are no different than men in their desires and weaknesses, and can be just as jealous and fickle. Desdemona disagrees and seeks only to make the world a better place.
“prithee shroud me / In one of these same sheets” Act 4 scene 3Desdemona is being morbid here and imagining she will die soon. A shroud was a sheet used to wrap dead bodies
“I do think it is their husbands’ faults / If wives do fall.” Act 4 scene 3 This attitude from Emilia would be a scandalous one to most women of Shakespeare’s day. As she outlines what it feels like to be an ill-treated wife, she evokes sympathy for both herself and Desdemona. Unlike her mistress however, she concludes that, ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.’ Whilst this strikes a blow for female equality, the audience would more admire the grace and virtue of Desdemona who will not stoop to such behaviour.
Act 5 scene 1 As Iago and Roderigo separately lie in wait for Cassio, Roderigo admits he’d rather not kill Cassio. Iago acknowledges that he can only prosper if both Cassio and Roderigo die. When Cassio arrives, Roderigo ineffectually stabs at him, and is seriously stabbed in return, leaving Iago to try wounding Cassio from behind, hitting him in the leg. Othello hears the commotion and, spurred on by his belief that Iago has killed Cassio, resolves to kill Desdemona. Lodovico and Gratiano hear the wounded men’s cries, but can’t see – Iago comes with a lantern, and, as if to help Cassio, kills Roderigo in supposed retribution. Lights are called for and a chair for the wounded Cassio. Bianca arrives and is very upset at seeing the wounded Cassio, which Iago makes out is in fact evidence of her complicity in the crime. He feigns distress at the death of Roderigo and Cassio’s injury. Emilia arrives and she and Iago both accuse Bianca of being a prostitute (and, by implication, of having no morals). They set out to inform Othello. Iago knows that his plans are soon to succeed or fail.
“He hath a daily beauty in his life / That makes me ugly;” act 5 scene 1Iago voices his envy, recognising the moral superiority in Cassio’s life compared to his, and suffering from the comparison.
“This is the night / That either makes me or fordoes me quite.” act 5 scene 1The rhyming couplet sums up Iago’s situation as well as creating anticipation as to how events will turn out.
Act 5 scene 2 Othello prepares to kill Desdemona, trying to convince himself that he is acting out of justice, not revenge. He cannot resist kissing his sleeping wife, and almost changes his mind about killing her. Desdemona awakes and protests her innocence and her love for him. He insists she must die, even after she explains that she never gave Cassio her handkerchief nor took him as a lover. She pleads for time to pray but he refuses and smothers her just as Emilia knocks at the door. When he lets her in she reports the murder of Roderigo but that Cassio is only wounded. She discovers Desdemona dying, who tells her that she had killed herself. Othello claims his innocence because of what Desdemona said but then claims she has gone to hell because she had lied and he confesses that he killed her. Othello explains that he knew of Desdemona’s adultery through Iago but Emilia is incredulous of this and contemptuously calls him a murderer and her husband a liar. When Iago arrives with Montano and Gratiano, he confirms Othello’s story and claims he only told Othello what he believed. Gratiano, Desdemona’s uncle, reports Brabantio’s death and is glad he was spared the sight of his daughter’s murder. Emilia reveals the truth about the handkerchief and Othello finally realises he has been deceived all along. In angry revenge Iago kills her and escapes. Othello is now beside himself with grief and shame and when officers return with Iago, he wounds him. Cassio arrives and protests he never did anything wrong against Othello or Desdemona; Othello believes it and asks his pardon. Lodovico reads out some letters they had found on Roderigo which prove that in everything he did he was set on by Iago. Othello states that he only did what he thought was right and that his biggest sin was in loving too much. Being too easily duped and manipulated, he threw away the greatest thing he owned. He then kills himself, leaving Cassio as the new governor of Cyprus.
“Put out the light and then put out the light.” act 5 scene 2 The first light is the candle but the second is the light of Desdemona’s life, which he believes he must extinguish.
“this sorrow’s heavenly, / It strikes where it doth love. “ act 5 scene 2 Othello is trying to convince himself that he is doing the right thing and that his sorrow must not deflect him from executing justice by killing Desdemona.
“eyes roll so .. gnaw .. your nether lip” act 5 scene 2 As Othello descends to an ‘uncivilised’ act, so Shakespeare emphasises his African characteristics to make him seem more ‘other’. His contemporary audience associated African people with ‘savage’ ways.
“O my good Lord .. I do beseech you” act 5 scene 2 Shakespeare contrasts the urgency of Emilia outside with the stillness of Othello contemplating his immobile wife on the curtained bed.
“Truth/liar, angel/devil, water/fire, false/heavenly true” Act 5 scene 2Shakespeare uses a series of juxtapositions as he reverses Othello’s up-side-down mental image back to the upright truths proclaimed by Emilia.
“she with Cassio hath the act of shame / A thousand times committed.” act 5 scene Othello here shamelessly exaggerates. There was no time at all for them to commit adultery, as the plays ends after only two days on Cyprus. And it stretches credulity too far to believe that they had been having an affair in Venice while Cassio was acting as their go-between during their courtship.
“ill-starr’d wench” Act 5 scene 2 Othello refers to Desdemona as one who was doomed by the stars (i.e. fate) to die young.
“From this time forth I never will speak word.” act 5 scene 2A supreme irony here is that Iago refuses to speak any more, when he has spent the whole play deceiving everyone through his garrulousness.
“a turban’d Turk .. And smote him thus” act 5 scene 2As he kills himself, Othello reverts to the brave soldier that he always was, a man of action rather than of words and feelings who fights on the side of Christendom. It is as if he is re-living his heyday of being a successful soldier and wants to die in the same way.