Department of English and Literary Studies Delta State University, Abraka
Name: Orhero Mathais Iroro Course Code: ELS 422 Course Title: Studies in Drama Course Lecturer: Prof. G.G. Darah
Assignment Question: Write a summary of William Shakespeare’s Othello in three pages.
Othello, the Moor of Venice was written by William Shakespeare during the Renaissance period and it adopts the regular structure and convention of a classical tragedy. The play opens at a scene where Iago and Roderigo both expose their malicious tendencies towards Othello, the black Moor. Iago affirms his solidarity for Roderigo, a young Venetian merchant, and he expresses his feigned loyalty for Othello. Iago affirms Roderigo that he will surely get his revenge for Othello’s appointment of Cassio as his lieutenant instead of himself, (Iago), being appointed. They both hatch a plot that will bring down the glory of the Moor and they start their plot by conniving together to dispatch Othello’s marriage to Desdemona to Brabantio, Desdemona’s father who is unaware of the liaison between the love birds. They approach Brabantio’s house and informs him that a black sheep is on top his white ewe which is a metaphor for Othello and Desdemona. Brabantio did not believe at first as he thought they were up to no good until Roderigo challenges him to look into Desdemona’s room to see if she is there and true to his convictions, Brabantio notices her absence and with rage, he charges Roderigo to lead him and his soldiers to the home of Othello and it is at this point that Iago decides to return so that he may not be found disloyal. Meanwhile, Othello has married Desdemona and both are planning for their honeymoon when the Duke of Venice sends messengers to Othello informing him of the approach of the Turks and almost immediately, Brabantio and his men, together with Roderigo, approach Othello and try to fight him. Othello calms them down and requests of the trouble that brings Brabantio. Brabantio accuses Othello of using charms to lure Desdemona away into marriage and the humble Othello peacefully requests to be tried according to law and he, afterwards, informs Brabantio of his duty call by the Duke. Brabantio replies that his matter is much more important than the pressing matters of the state although he finally takes Othello to see the Duke. While with the Duke, Brabantio recaps his pains that Othello has used charms to seduce his daughter, Desdemona, and in defence, Othello speaks of how he used to visit Brabantio and how he tells his tales of war, chivalry and adventure and how Desdemona was very much in love with his tales
that she constantly requested of him to tell them and this, Othello says, made Desdemona to fall in love with him. He concludes that his stories are his charms and Desdemona is brought to testify which she does. Brabrantio enters a state of melancholy as he gives his only daughter to Othello. He says that if perchance he breeds more daughters, they’ll be tied with a chain. After Brabantio’s issue has been resolved, the Duke informs Othello about the approach of the Turks(Ottoman fleets) and Othello heads for Cyprus in a bid to intercept the Turks. Desdemona pleads to follow Othello and Othello appoints Iago’s wife, Emilia, to attend to Desdemona. Meanwhile, Iago and Roderigo hatch a new plot in the background. Roderigo hampers on his love-feelings for Desdemona and Iago promises to act faster and he asks Roderigo for more money. Roderigo agrees to sell all his lands in other to woo Desdemona which Iago promises him of marrying. Iago hatches a conspiracy plot to oust Cassio and implicate Desdemona and he takes this plot to Cyprus where he is welcome by Montano. Othello arrives at Cyprus after his ship passed through some hurdles at sea and he is immediately welcomed by Desdemona and the others. Othello settles down there in a bid to enjoy his honeymoon. Iago brings to realization, his plot to oust Cassio by making him drink alcohol. Roderigo, working with Iago, sets up Cassio by starting a fight and Cassio is immediately detected and labelled a drunk. Othello hears of the matter and he is much angered and therefore strips Cassio of his position as lieutenant. Cassio approaches Desdemona to plead to Othello for him and Iago takes advantage of this to plant a seed of discord between the couples. Iago makes his wife steal a precious handkerchief given to Desdemona by Othello as a heirloom from his mother and this handkerchief is dropped at the home of Cassio. Iago, ironically, is the most trusted fellow in the house of Othello and when he suggests to Othello that his wife may be having an affair with Cassio, Othello is quick to see the possibility based on Iago’s honour. However, he asks Iago to provide a proof of this allegation. This thought is fuelled up in the mind of Othello by Desdemona’s constant pressurization of Othello to reinstate the position of Cassio. Iago tells Othello to
ask Desdemona to provide the handkerchief as he asserts that he saw it with Cassio. Othello proceeds to ask Desdemona of the handkerchief which she forgot how it was lost. She cannot account for it and this makes Othello’s suspicion more potent and his jealousy more powerful. Othello, in a bid to preserve his personal honour which was a prominent feature of Elizabethan drama, hatches a plot with Iago in other to murder Cassio and Desdemona. Othello starts attacking Desdemona verbally and physically and he points accusing fingers at her. Iago, on the other hand, meets with Roderigo who has sold all he has and he tells Roderigo to waylay Cassio and murder him as it is the only way he can get Desdemona. Roderigo does this and the fight between himself and Cassio becomes brutal. Cassio kills Roderigo and Iago wounds Cassio by striking his sword at him from the background. The death immediately attracts Gratiano and Lodovico who are relations to Brabantio. Othello finally asks Emilia to leave Desdemona and he kills her by asphyxiation with a pillow. Emilia brings the message of Roderigo’s death to Othello when she finds out that Othello has murdered Desdemona. In the final scene, Emilia recounts, in the presence of Montano, Lodovico, Gratiano, Iago and others, that she was sent by her husband to steal the handkerchief which stirred Othello’s act of vengeance from Desdemona and Cassio. Cassio confirms what Emilia has confessed and he exonerates himself and Desdemona but Iago kills Emilia and runs away. Othello now sees the harm he has done and the “mistake in his judgement” and having already killed Desdemona in the process, he kills himself as well as is quite expected of tragic heroes. Cassio inherits Othello’s properties and Lodovico will return to Venice to recount all that happened and the play ends.