Act II, Scene 3
Othello instructs Cassio to keep the watch. Cassio knows Iago already has instructions to do so. Othello leaves his men to it and takes Desdemona to bed.
Iago comes up and tries to convince Cassio that they don’t have to start the watch just yet. Othello just wanted to shoo them off so he could get busy with Desdemona. Iago suggests they imbibe in some alcohol. Cassio doesn’t think that’s a good idea because he tends to go over-the-top when it comes to alcohol. Iago talks him into it and tells him to go get the locals he’s made friends with.
Once alone, Iago reveals his villainous plots. He will get Cassio and everyone else drunk. Then, he’ll toss Roderigo into the mix just for fun. With all these drunk people floating around he will make sure Cassio does something stupid.
Iago has apparently been talking for longer than he seemed because Cassio is already at least a pint in, probably more. They sing some drinking songs and talk about how great the English are at drinking (bit of weird flex, but I whatever). Cassio stumbles through a speech about saving souls, including his own. He makes a point to say he should be saved before Iago because his rank is higher, which I’m sure doesn’t bother Iago at ALL.
Cassio drunkenly swaggers away and Iago makes a point to tell the local men that Cassio is drunk like this frequently. Montano is surprised Othello trusts him so much if that’s true. Roderigo comes in and Iago immediately sends him after Cassio. Montano continues to wonder at Cassio being made second in command when he’s a drunk. Iago expresses his love for Cassio, but wishes he weren’t such a drunk.
Cassio gets into a fight with Roderigo. Montano tries to break it up, so Cassio starts fighting with him. Iago quietly tells Roderigo to go and raise the alarm. Iago is attempting to break up the fight when the bells start ringing. This wakes up Othello, who is not at all happy to see how his lieutenant is behaving. Montano is bleeding and Iago scolds them for their behavior. Othello is equally disgusted in his men’s behavior and asks “honest” Iago what happened.
Iago, being the good guy that he is, is hesitant to point any fingers. Everyone was best buddies just a few minutes ago. Othello tries to ask Cassio, but he can’t answer. Othello turns to Montano, but he’s bleeding so asks if he can go tend to his wounds. He insists that Iago can explain what happened. Othello agrees that he should go take care of himself. Montano tells Iago to be honest.
Iago hesitates to implicate good Cassio, but the truth must be known. Iago explains that he was talking to Montano when an unknown man cried out (Roderigo). Montano separated the two and the man took off. Iago chased after him, but couldn’t catch him. When Iago came back, Cassio and Montano were fighting and that’s when Othello came is. Iago is sure that Cassio was enraged by the unknown man, which is why he went after Montano.
Othello thanks Iago for his honesty, but thinks he is being too nice to Cassio. Othello tells Cassio he is no longer an officer. Desdemona comes out and Othello apologizes for her sleep being disturbed. He decides to take care of Montano himself and asks Iago to calm the town. Everyone but Iago and Cassio leave.
Cassio is upset because his spotless reputation has been ruined. Iago thinks that’s silly. It’s very easy to repair an injured reputation. It’s not so easy to repair a grievous bodily injury. Cassio curses wine for making him act in this way. He doesn’t even remember why he was fighting Roderigo. Iago marvels at the fact that Cassio doesn’t even seem drunk. Apparently rage cancels out drunkenness, so that’s convenient. Cassio is very angry at himself.
Iago tells him he’s being too hard on himself, but he won’t hear it. Cassio is positive that if he were to ask for his position back, Othello would dismiss him as a drunk. Iago assures him that every man has been drunk before, and gives him a good course of action: to get back into Othello’s good graces through Desdemona. That seems like a great idea, so Cassio goes to bed.
Iago takes his moment alone to give a villain speech. The genius of his plan is that the advice to appeal to Desdemona is good advice. BUT, Iago will use the opportunity to convince Othello that Desdemona and Cassio are having an affair because he is still the bad guy after all.
Roderigo is ready to go home. He’s almost out of money (it’s only been a day, so I question his financial decisions) and he just got beaten up. This is seeming more and more like a bad decision by the hour. Iago tells him to be patient because the plan is about to kick into high gear.
Act III, Scene 1
The Clown asks the musicians to play something pleasant to say good morning to his master (Othello). They play, but it apparently wasn’t any good. The Clown mocks them, pays them, mocks them again, and then sends them away.
Cassio comes in and asks him to fetch Emilia, Iago’s wife and Desdemona’s attendant. He goes in and Iago arrives shortly after. Cassio explains what is going on and Iago promises to send out Emilia and draw Othello away. Cassio can’t believe what an honest man Iago is.
Emilia comes out and explains that Desdemona is already making his case. Othello insists she doesn’t need to because the love he has for Cassio is doing the same. Still, Cassio wants to speak with Desdemona himself. Emilia agrees to take him in.
Act III, Scene 2
Othello sends Iago off with a letter and goes about some official business.
Act III, Scene 3
Desdemona promises to do her best to get Cassio back in Othello’s good graces. Emilia expresses how concerned Iago is over Cassio’s dilemma and wishes to see Desdemona plead the suit. Cassio tries to take off when Othello comes in. Desdemona tells him to stay and hear what she has to say. He refuses and takes off.
Iago makes a comment about how Cassio snuck guiltily away. Othello seems to pay it little mind. Desdemona immediately seizes upon the opportunity to plead Cassio’s case. She tries to make Othello meet with him, but insists it can’t be more than three days time because neither she nor Cassio can handle that torment. Othello tells her he won’t deny her anything, but that’s not what she wanted to hear. She wants him to want to meet with Cassio. He can’t handle her shenanigans and she leaves.
Iago asks Othello is Cassio knew Desdemona when Othello started wooing him. Othello explains that he did and often served as a messenger between the two lovers. Iago finds it interesting. Othello wants to know what he’s thinking, but Iago doesn’t want to say. He just repeats Othello until Othello gets annoyed and demands that Iago explain himself.
Iago goes into a long discussion about jealousy and how it can corrupt a man’s thoughts. Love can too, but he wouldn’t want to taint Othello’s pure mind with his twisted thoughts. Othello wants to know the truth, so Iago tells him to keep and eye on Desdemona and Cassio. Othello shouldn’t jump to conclusions, but he shouldn’t ignore the truth either. After all, Desdemona did betray her own father’s trust.
Iago is sad because he put a damper on Othello’s spirits. Othello insists he didn’t, but Iago can see that he did. He makes sure Othello knows that he only said something because he has so much love for Othello. Othello still thinks Desdemona is honest. Iago is glad to hear it. He never wanted to besmirch Desdemona’s good name. Othello wants to be left alone. Iago obliges, but quickly pops back in to suggest that Othello keep Cassio at an arm’s length just a little longer. Cassio obviously deserves to be in his role and performs it well, but if kept at a distance, it may be easier to see how Desdemona reacts. That’s when Iago finally leaves.
Othello doesn’t want to believe it, but if Desdemona has been unfaithful, then he has no choice but to hate her.
Desdemona enters to call Othello into dinner. He tells her he has a headache and she tries to make it better. In the process, they drop her treasured handkerchief. Emilia picks it up and explains that it means a lot to Desdemona because it is one of the first things Othello ever gave her. Emilia is going to give it to Iago because he asked her to and she will do anything he asks.
Iago comes in and wants to know what Emilia is doing there alone. She gives him the handkerchief, thinking he’ll be excited, or at least tell her what he’s going to do with it, but he won’t because he is a butt. He tells her to go away and when she’s gone explains that he’s going to plant the handkerchief in Cassio’s room for Othello to find.
Othello comes back in, fuming, He was all happy and content with his life until Iago had to go and ruin it. He demands that Iago find proof. Iago shows deep regret for bringing any of this up to Othello. Othello keeps pushing him for proof. Iago finally explains that Cassio has been talking in his sleep and said something about the affair. He also was sleep-groping Iago, but we don’t need to go into any more detail than that. Othello gets even more angry, but Iago reminds him that this is hardly proof. Othello still demands more. Iago reveals that he saw Cassio wipe his beard with a strawberry printed handkerchief. Uh oh, it’s the one Othello gave to Desdemona. Iago definitely didn’t know that.
Now Othello is certain they are having an affair. He orders Iago to kill Cassio and makes Iago his lieutenant. Iago just asks that Desdemona live, but Othello makes no promises.
Act III, Scene 4
Desdemona asks the Clown where Cassio lies. The Clown refuses to call Cassio a liar. Desdemona attempts to make her language as precise as possible, but to no avail (as is often the case with clowns). She finally just asks the clown to bring Cassio to her, which he agrees to do.
Desdemona wonders to Emilia where she could have left her handkerchief. It’s a good thing Othello isn’t the jealous type, or he might think something is up. Othello comes in. Desdemona decides to pester Othello constantly until he makes up with Cassio.
Othello takes her hand, notes it it sweaty, and insists she must need repent to banish the hot devils inside her (obviously). Desdemona wants him to talk to Cassio. He asks to borrow her handkerchief. She hands him one, but not the one he gave her. She says she doesn’t have it with her. He explains that the handkerchief is infused with magic. It was given to his mother and as long as it was in her possession she would be well-perceived by her husband. But, if she ever lost it, the marriage would fall apart. His mother gave it to him on her deathbed to give to his wife that they may have a happy marriage. Desdemona insists it isn’t lost, but refuses to go an get it when Othello repeatedly asks. Instead, she tries to plead Cassio’s case. Othello quickly storms off.
Emilia comments that Othello sure seems jealous. Cassio comes in to ask Desdemona to help him again. She would, but apparently Othello is out of sorts and angry at her. Iago offers to find out why and Desdemona accepts the offer. She is so perplexed by Othello’s attitude. Emilia thinks it’s jealousy, but they both hope that isn’t true. Desdemona goes off to find Othello.
Bianca comes in to chastise Cassio for not spending time with her for a whole week. He apologizes because he’s been very busy. Then, he gives her a handkerchief. She asks who it belonged too, but he doesn’t know. He just found it in his chamber and thought it was pretty. He tells her to go because he’s trying to talk to Othello. He doesn’t want Othello to know he has a lady friend because reasons. Bianca accepts this and leaves…ladies, you deserve better…just saying.