Act I, Scene 1
Roderigo is quite perturbed to hear the news that Iago has. He can’t believe that Iago actually dislikes Othello. Iago reassures him by explaining that he was due for a promotion. In fact, he had three influential men trying to persuade Othello to promote him. Othello didn’t seem to care though and selected Cassio, a bookworm, to be his lieutenant. Iago is the ancient, the next in command under lieutenant. Iago is angry about this because he has proven himself repeatedly in battle and Cassio has barely even seen a battlefield because he’s a nerd.
Roderigo still doesn’t understand why Iago is serving under Othello. He would have killed him. Iago explains though that he is staying close to Othello until the opportunity for revenge presents itself. He goes on to explain that by serving Othello, he is really serving himself.
Iago tells Roderigo to wake up Barbantio and tell him about his daughter. He wants Roderigo to get her entire family worked up. The two men shout loudly for Barbantio to tell him that he has been robbed. He’s not too happy to be woken up, especially when he finds out that Roderigo is the one at the door. He’s already told Roderigo to go away and stop pursuing his daughter. Roderigo clearly hasn’t listened.
Barbantio is about to go back to sleep when Iago tells him that his daughter has run away with the Moor. Well, actually he tells her father that they are having sex, but with a great image (making the beast with two backs) that we should definitely bring back. Anyway, Barbantio is caught off guard, but is hesitant to believe. Roderigo tells him to go and check. If he finds Desdemona in her room, he can have Roderigo arrested. They also repeatedly drive the point home that Othello is black, and thus undesirable as a husband (we’ll dive into the whole race issue with Othello in a later blog). Barbantio goes to check.
Iago takes off at this point because it would look bad for him to be standing against Othello. He knows all about Othello’s battle plans and lets Roderigo know what is going on.
Barbantio is enraged that his daughter ran away to marry Othello. He would have preferred it was Roderigo, that is how bad the situation is. They head off together to wake the town and make sure justice is served.
Act I, Scene 2
Iago tells Othello about all the awful things someone was saying about him. Iago could hardly stand it. He almost resorted to violence to defend Othello’s honor against such awful slanders said by no one in particular… definitely not Iago…
Othello confirms that he is indeed married. When Iago tells him that Barbantio will see to it that he and Desdemona are divorced, Othello doesn’t show much concern. He’s proven himself a capable warrior and has more than earned their respect. His spotless reputation will outweigh any accusation.
Cassio arrives with a message from the Duke. There are some important new war developments and Othello is needed along with the other senators. Othello steps inside for a moment, presumably to say goodbye to Desdemona. Cassio asked Iago what’s going on and he explains that Othello got married.
Barbantio storms in and is ready for a fight. Othello is not too keen on fighting and asks why Barbantio is so mad. Barbantio asserts that Othello stole Desdemona away with witchcraft because there is no other explanation for why she would run away. He wants to take Othello away to prison, which is awkward because the Duke wants to see Othello right away. Barbantio agrees to take Othello to the Duke.
Act I, Scene 3
The Duke and his Senators try to sort out exactly what is going on. There’s a lot of conflicting information, but the basics seem to be that the Turkish fleet is heading to Cyprus.
Before the Duke can explain the situation to Othello, he notices that Barbantio is in a mood. When he asks about it, Barbantio explains that his daughter has been stolen away by means of witchcraft. The Duke promises to punish whatever man did this. Oops, it’s Othello. Dang it. He asks Othello if it’s true. Othello denies using witchcraft because he won Desdemona over with the story of his life. Barbantio doesn’t believe him and they send Iago to fetch Desdemona.
As they wait for Desdemona, Othello tells the whole story. He was often a guest at Barbantio’s house and as such was expected to tell entertaining stories. Desdemona always wanted to hear more of his stories. She would talk with him at all hours. He told her about his amazing and pitiful life. She told him that he needed to find a friend to tell his story because that would woo her, so Othello decided to take a chance and the rest is history.
Desdemona comes in and corroborates Othello’s version of the story. Barbantio admits defeat because he doesn’t want to disown his only child.
They turn their attention back to the Turkish fleet. The Duke wants Othello to go to Cyprus and take care of the issue. Othello wants to make sure that Desdemona is taken care of. The Duke suggests her father, but everyone agrees that is a terrible idea. Desdemona wants to go with Othello. Othello doesn’t want her to come with him because she will be too distracting. The Duke leaves that decision to them and asks to see Othello in the morning before he leaves. Iago stays behind to hear any further instructions.
Roderigo is very upset at this whole situation. He thinks he should probably just kill himself. Iago thinks he is being stupid and tells him to get together a bunch of money and follow them to Cyprus. Roderigo decides to go and sell all his land (like you do).
Iago goes on an evil villain monologue.
Act II, Scene 1
There’s a big storm ravaging the bay of Cyprus and everyone is caught up in it, even the Turks. The storm was so bad that it destroyed the Turkish fleet and essentially won the war for them. Yay!
Cassio has made it to shore, but he lost Othello’s ship in the storm. He’s not sure if he survived the storm. Iago comes ashore with Desdemona and his wife, Emilia. They all are concerned over Othello’s fate. Another ship is coming in, hopefully it’s him.
Cassio gives compliments and kisses to the ladies, much to Iago’s annoyance. What follows is an exchange where Iago struggles to be complementary to the ladies. They tease him about how he would compliment different types of women. It leads to shenanigans that in the end make Iago look kind of silly. Cassio kisses Desdmona’s hand and Iago see his opportunity for revenge.
Othello shows up and gushes about how much he loves Desdemona and how happy he is. He tells Iago to bring his money ashore.
Iago explains the evil plan to Roderigo, sort of. He tells Roderigo that Cassio loves Desdemona and she loves him. Roderigo doubts that Desdemona loves Cassio. Iago explains it is impossible for Desdemona to fall for Othello’s magnificent stories and then still love his lovey gushing. He seems to convince Roderigo that Cassio is after Desdemona and there is something there.
Iago leaves Roderigo and explains the details of his plan. He thinks Cassio does love Desdemona, everyone does, even Iago. Iago is mad that Othello has a better wife than Iago does (rude). He will spin this tale and convince Othello that Cassio and Desdemona are hooking up. Then, Othello will reward Iago for revealing this evenly scheme.
Act II, Scene 2
Othello commands everyone to party because the war is won and he just got married.