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Scene By Scene

1.1 CALL UP HER FATHER

On the streets of Venice, Iago and Roderigo discuss their hatred of Othello. Iago is jealous that Othello has picked Cassio as his lieutenant over him, and Roderigo - who is in love with Desdemona - is angry at news that she and Othello have eloped together. Together (though Iago at first remains hidden from sight) they tell Brabantio, Desdemona’s father, of her marriage, who is outraged at the news.

1.2 THOU HAST ENCHANTED HER

In a false display of loyalty to Othello, Iago warns him that Brabantio has been told of his daughter’s marriage. Cassio informs Othello that he has been summoned to the senate just as Brabantio arrives. In another staged display of loyalty, Iago threatens Roderigo for telling Brabantio of Othello and Desdemona’s marriage. Brabantio accuses Othello of bewitching his daughter into falling in love with him. Othello responds that he must hear his side of the story before passing judgment.

1.3 I HATE THE MOOR

Having received news of a serious threat against Cyprus, the Duke of Venice decides that defensive action is needed. Brabantio raises his grievances with Othello in front of the senate. Othello defends himself by claiming that he ‘charmed’ Desdemona with his stories, not with magic. Desdemona confirms this, and the couple’s marriage is approved by the senate. The Duke decides that Othello must sail to Cyprus to lead the fight against the Turks. Desdemona is allowed to go too, but she sails separately. Left alone, Iago declares his hatred of Othello and swears to break up the marriage, using Roderigo as his pawn.  

2.1 WELL MET AT CYPRUS

Cassio, Desdemona, Iago, Emilia and Roderigo arrive in Cyprus after battling a stormy sea. Iago watches closely as Cassio greets Desdemona and plots to use their friendship against them. Othello arrives and announces the destruction of the Turkish fleet. He and Desdemona are joyfully reunited. Iago tricks Roderigo into believing that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio, and the pair plot to get Cassio fired. Alone, Iago reveals that he believes Othello has had an affair with his wife, Emilia. 

2.2 A PROCLOMATION

A Herald announces to the people of Cyprus a celebration of Othello’s triumph over the Turkish fleet, and of his marriage to Desdemona. 

2.3 FLUSTER’D WITH FLOWING CUPS

Putting their plan into action, Iago gets Cassio drunk, and Roderigo provokes him into a fight with Montano. Othello breaks up the fight and, angry with Cassio, dismisses him from his post as lieutenant. Iago persuades Cassio to ask Desdemona to get Othello to give him his job back, knowing that he can use this to make Othello believe they are having an affair. Roderigo begins to lose faith in his and Iago’s plan, but Iago reassures him that it is working. 

3.1 WITH DESDEMONA ALONE

With Othello kept out of the way by Iago, Cassio pleads with Emilia to let him speak with Desdemona, which she allows.

3.2 WALKING ON THE WORKS

Othello sets out to explore the battlements of the castle, knowing little of the danger that lies within its walls.

3.3 THE GREEN-EYED MONSTER

Desdemona seems to persuade her husband to re-appoint Cassio, but Iago begins to raise Othello’s suspicions of an affair between them. Emilia notices when Desdemona’s handkerchief – her first present from Othello – is dropped by accident. She picks it up and gives it to her husband, remarking that Iago has often asked her to steal it. Iago convinces Othello that he saw Cassio with such a handkerchief, and Othello demands that Desdemona and Cassio die for their adultery. 

3.4 THE HANDKERCHIEF!

Desdemona frantically searches for her handkerchief. Othello, in an attempt to catch her out, demands to see it. Angered when she cannot produce it, he storms away. Emilia and Desdemona observe how much he has changed. Cassio asks Desdemona again to help him regain Othello’s trust, and she promises she will do everything she can. Having found Desdemona’s handkerchief in his room (where Iago planted it), Cassio asks his mistress, Bianca, to embroider another like it. 

4.1 OTHELLO SHALL GO MAD

Iago baits Othello with visions of Desdemona’s alleged  infidelity, and causes him to fall into a faint. When he comes round, Iago tells him to hide while he invites Cassio to talk about his love for Desdemona. In fact, Iago encourages Cassio to tell him about Bianca, his actual mistress, but Othello – not hearing every word – assumes that Cassio is bragging about his affair with his wife. When Bianca enters to angrily return the handkerchief, Othello takes it as further proof of his wife’s adultery. Othello resolves once more to kill Cassio and Desdemona. Desdemona’s cousin, Lodovico, arrives with news that Cassio has been appointed Governor of Cyprus. When Desdemona expresses her happiness, Othello strikes her. 

4.2 HE CALLED HER WHORE

Othello calls Desdemona a whore, and tries to find more evidence of her infidelity. While Iago comforts Desdemona, Emilia begins to suspect that someone has deliberately made Othello mad with jealousy. Unhappy with the progress of their plan, Roderigo threatens to back out, but Iago persuades him to remain committed by pointing out that if he murders Cassio, he will have Desdemona for himself. 

4.3 SING WILLOW, WILLOW, WILLOW

Ordered to go to bed by Othello, Desdemona sings as she undresses, and discusses with Emilia the unfair ways women are treated by men.

5.1 O DAMNED IAGO

In a dark street. Roderigo attacks Cassio but it backfires when he is wounded himself. Iago steps in and wounds Cassio before running away. Thinking Cassio is dead, Othello moves to murder Desdemona. Iago re-enters and falsely rushes to Cassio’s aid. Under cover of darkness, he kills Roderigo as he lies wounded. Iago tries to blame everything on Bianca, and sends Emilia to deliver the devastating news to Othello and Desdemona that Roderigo is dead and Cassio badly hurt. 

5.2 TO DIE UPON A KISS

Othello suffocates Desdemona, who proclaims her innocence until the last. Emilia enters with the news of the fight. Desdemona, recovering briefly, cries out before expiring. Emilia raises the alarm. Iago arrives with other Venetian gentlemen. Emilia explains the truth about the handkerchief, and realising her husband’s involvement in the plot, declares Iago a villain for his trickery. Iago stabs Emilia and flees. Dying, Emilia assures Othello of Desdemona’s virtue. Iago is captured. Devastated by what he has done, Othello stabs himself, kissing Desdemona as he dies. Iago is committed to Cassio’s custody for punishment.