... s that can help to develop and inform the text's major themes. Sight and Blindness When Desdemona asks to be allowed to accompany Othello to Cyprus, she says that she "saw Othello's visage in his mind, / And to his honours and his valiant parts / Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate" (I. iii. 250-252). Othello's blackness, his visible difference from everyone around him, is of little importance to Desdemona: she has the power to see him for what he is in a way that even Othello himself cannot.
Desdemona's line is one of many references to different kinds of sight in the play. Earlier in Act I, scene iii, a senator suggests that the Turkish retreat to Rhodes is "a pageant / To keep us in false gaze" (I. iii. 19-20). The beginning of Act II consists entirely of people staring out to sea, waiting to see the arrival of ships, friendly or otherwise. Othello, though he demands "ocular proof" (III.
iii. 365), is frequently convinced by things he does not see: he strips Cassio of his position as lieutenant based on the story Iago tells; he relies on Iago's story of seeing Cassio wipe his beard with Desdemona's handkerchief (III. iii. 437-440); and he believes Cassio to be dead simply because he hears him scream. After Othello has killed himself in the final scene, Ludovico says to Iago, "Look on the tragic loading of this bed. / This is thy work.
The object poisons sight. / Let it be hid" (V. ii. 373-375). The action of the play depends heavily on characters not seeing things: Othello accuses his wife although he never sees her infidelity, and Emilia, although she watches Othello erupt into a rage about the missing handkerchief, does not figuratively "see" what her husband has done. Plants Iago is strangely preoccupied with plants.
His speeches to Roderigo in particular make extensive and elaborate use of vegetable metaphors and conceits. Some examples are: "Our bodies are our gardens, to which our wills are gardeners; so that if we will plant nettles or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up thyme... the power and corrigible authority of this lies in our wills" (I. iii. 317-322); "Though other things grow fair against the sun, / Yet fruits that blossom first will first be ripe" (II.
iii. 349-350); "And then, sir, would he gripe and wring my hand, / Cry 'O sweet creature!' , then kiss me hard, / As if he plucked kisses up by the roots, / That grew upon my lips" (III. iii. 425-428). The first of these examples best explains Iago's preoccupation with the plant metaphor and how it functions within the play.
Characters in this play seem to be the product of certain inevitable, natural forces, which, if left unchecked, will grow wild. Iago understands these natural forces particularly well: he is, according to his own metaphor, a good "gardener," both of himself and of others. Many of Iago's botanical references concern poison: "I'll pour this pestilence into his ear" (II. iii. 330); "The Moor already changes with my poison. / Dangerous conceits are in their natures poisons, /...
/... Not poppy nor mandragora / Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world / Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep" (III. iii. 329-336). Iago cultivates his "conceits" so that they become lethal poisons and then plants their seeds in the minds of others. The organic way in which Iago's plots consume the other characters and determine their behavior makes his conniving, human evil seem like a force of nature.
That organic growth also indicates that the minds of the other characters are fertile ground for Iago's efforts. Animals Iago calls Othello a "Barbary horse," an "old black ram," and also tells Brabanzio that his daughter and Othello are "making the beast with two backs" (I. i. 117-118).
In Act I, scene iii, Iago tells Roderigo, "Ere I would say I would drown myself for the love of a guinea-hen, I would change my humanity with a baboon" (I. iii. 312-313). He then remarks that drowning is for "cats and blind puppies" (I. iii. 330-331).
Cassio laments that, when drunk, he is "by and by a fool, and presently a beast!" (II. iii. 284-285). Othello tells Iago, "Exchange me for a goat / When I shall turn the business of my soul / To such and blow ed surmises" (III. iii. 184-186).
He later says that "[a] horned man's a monster and a beast" (IV. i. 59). Even Emilia, in the final scene, says that she will "play the swan, / And die in music" (V. ii. 254-255).
Like the repeated references to plants, these references to animals convey a sense that the laws of nature, rather than those of society, are the primary forces governing the characters in this play. When animal references are used with regard to Othello, as they frequently are, they reflect the racism both of characters in the play and of Shakespeare's contemporary audience. "Barbary horse" is a vulgarity particularly appropriate in the mouth of Iago, but even without having seen Othello, the Jacobean audience would have known from Iago's metaphor that he meant to connote a savage Moor. Hell, Demons, and Monsters Iago tells Othello to beware of jealousy, the "green-eyed monster which doth mock/ The meat it feeds on" (III. iii.
170-171). Likewise, Emilia describes jealousy as dangerously and uncannily self-generating, a "monster / Begot upon itself, born on itself" (III. iv. 156-157).
Imagery of hell and damnation also recurs throughout Othello, especially toward the end of the play, when Othello becomes preoccupied with the religious and moral judgment of Desdemona and himself. After he has learned the truth about Iago, Othello calls Iago a devil and a demon several times in Act V, scene ii. Othello's earlier allusion to "some monster in [his] thought" ironically refers to Iago (III. iii. 111). Likewise, his vision of Desdemona's betrayal is "monstrous, monstrous!" (III.
iii. 431). Shortly before he kills himself, Othello wishes for eternal spiritual and physical torture in hell, crying out, "Whip me, ye devils, /... /...
roast me in sulphur, / Wash me in steep-down gulfs of liquid fire!" (V. ii. 284-287). The imagery of the monstrous and diabolical takes over where the imagery of animals can go no further, presenting the jealousy-crazed characters not simply as brutish, but as grotesque, deformed, and demonic.
Symbols Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts. The Handkerchief The handkerchief symbolizes different things to different characters. Since the handkerchief was the first gift Desdemona received from Othello, she keeps it about her constantly as a symbol of Othello's love. Iago manipulates the handkerchief so that Othello comes to see it as a symbol of Desdemona herself-her faith and chastity.
By taking possession of it, he is able to convert it into evidence of her infidelity. But the handkerchief's importance to Iago and Desdemona derives from its importance to Othello himself. He tells Desdemona that it was woven by a 200-year-old sibyl, or female prophet, using silk from sacred worms and dye extracted from the hearts of mummified virgins. Othello claims that his mother used it to keep his father faithful to her, so, to him, the handkerchief represents marital fidelity.
The pattern of strawberries (dyed with virgins' blood) on a white background strongly suggests the bloodstains left on the sheets on a virgin's wedding night, so the handkerchief implicitly suggests a guarantee of virginity as well as fidelity. The Song "Willow" As she prepares for bed in Act V, Desdemona sings a song about a woman who is betrayed by her lover. She was taught the song by her mother's maid, Barbary, who suffered a misfortune similar to that of the woman in the song; she even died singing "Willow." The song's lyrics suggest that both men and women are unfaithful to one another. To Desdemona, the song seems to represent a melancholy and resigned acceptance of her alienation from Othello's affections, and singing it leads her to question Emilia about the nature and practice of infidelity. Act I, scenes i-ii Othello begins on a street in Venice, in the midst of an argument between Roderigo and Iago. The rich Roderigo has been paying Iago to help him in his suit to Desdemona, but he has seen no progress, and he has just learned that Desdemona has married Othello, a general whom Iago serves as ensign.
Iago reassures Roderigo that he hates Othello. Chief among Iago's reasons for this hatred is Othello's recent promotion of Michael Cassio to the post of lieutenant. In spite of Iago's service in battle and the recommendation of three "great ones" of the city, Othello chose to give the position to a man with no experience leading men in battle. As he waits for an opportunity to further his own self-interest, Iago only pretends to serve Othello. Iago advises Roderigo to spoil some of Othello's pleasure in his marriage by rousing Desdemona's family against the general. The two men come to the street outside the house of Desdemona's father, Brabanzio, and cry out that he has been robbed by "thieves." Brabanzio, who is a Venetian senator, comes to the window.
At first, he doesn't believe what he hears, because he has told Roderigo to stay away from his daughter before and thinks Roderigo is merely scheming once again in order to see Desdemona. Iago speaks in inflammatory terms, vulgarly telling the senator that his daughter and Othello are having sex by saying that they are "making the beast with two backs" (I. i. 118). Brabanzio begins to take what he hears seriously and decides to search for his daughter.
Seeing the success of his plan, Iago leaves Roderigo alone and goes to attend on Othello. Like Brabanzio, Othello has no idea of Iago's role in Roderigo's accusations. As Iago departs, Brabanzio comes out of his house, furious that his daughter has left him. Declaring that his daughter has been stolen from him by magic "charms," Brabanzio and his men follow Roderigo to Othello. Summary: Act I, scene ii Iago arrives at Othello's lodgings, where he warns the general that Brabanzio will not hesitate to attempt to force a divorce between Othello and Desdemona. Othello sees a party of men approaching, and Iago, thinking that Brabanzio and his followers have arrived, counsels Othello to retreat indoors.
Othello stands his ground, but the party turns out to be Cassio and officers from the Venetian court. They bring Othello the message that he is wanted by the duke of Venice about a matter concerning Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean Sea controlled by Venice. As Cassio and his men prepare to leave, Iago mentions that Othello is married, but before he can say any more, Brabanzio, Roderigo, and Brabanzio's men arrive to accost Othello. Brabanzio orders his men to attack and subdue Othello. A struggle between Brabanzio's and Othello's followers seems imminent, but Othello brings the confrontation to a halt by calmly and authoritatively telling both sides to put up their swords. Hearing that the duke has summoned Othello to the court, Brabanzio decides to bring his cause before the duke himself.
Analysis: Act I, scenes i-ii The action of the first scene heightens the audience's anticipation of Othello's first appearance. We learn Iago's name in the second line of the play and Roderigo's soon afterward, but Othello is not once mentioned by his name. Rather, he is ambiguously referred to as "he" and "him." He is also called "the Moor" (I. i. 57), "the thick-lips" (I. i.
66), and "a Barbary horse" (I. i. 113) -all names signifying that he is dark-skinned. Iago plays on the senator's fears, making him imagine a barbarous and threatening Moor, or native of Africa, whose bestial sexual appetite has turned him into a thief and a rapist. Knowing nothing of Othello, one would expect that the audience, too, would be seduced by Iago's portrait of the general, but several factors keep us from believing him. In the first place, Roderigo is clearly a pathetic and jealous character.
He adores Desdemona, but she has married Othello and seems unaware of Roderigo's existence. Roderigo doesn't even have the ability to woo Desdemona on his own: he has already appealed to Brabanzio for Desdemona's hand, and when that fails, he turns to Iago for help. Rich and inexperienced, Roderigo naively gives his money to Iago in exchange for vague but unfulfilled promises of amorous success. The fact that Iago immediately paints himself as the villain also prepares us to be sympathetic to Othello. Iago explains to Roderigo that he has no respect for Othello beyond what he has to show to further his own revenge: "I follow him to serve my turn upon him" (I. i.
42). Iago explicitly delights in his villainy, always tipping the audience off about his plotting. In these first two scenes, Iago tells Roderigo to shout beneath Brabanzio's window and predicts exactly what will happen when they do so. Once Brabanzio has been roused, Iago also tells Roderigo where he can meet Othello. Because of the dramatic irony Iago establishes, the audience is forced into a position of feeling intimately connected with Iago's villainy. In many ways, Iago is the driving force behind the plot, a playwright of sorts whose machinations inspire the action of the play.
His self-conscious falseness is highly theatrical, calculated to shock the audience. Iago is a classic two-faced villain, a type of character known in Shakespeare's time as a "Machiavel"-a villain who, adhering all too literally to the teachings of the political philosopher Machiavelli, lets nothing stand in his way in his quest for power. He is also reminiscent of the stock character of Vice from medieval morality plays, who also announces to the audience his diabolical schemes. After having been prepared for a passionate and possibly violent personage in Othello, the quiet calm of Othello's character-his dismissal of Roderigo's alleged insult and his skillful avoidance of conflict-is surprising. In fact, far from presenting Othello as a savage barbarian, Shakespeare implicitly compares him to Christ. The moment when Brabanzio and his men arrive with swords and torches, tipped off to Othello's whereabouts by Othello's disloyal friend, vividly echoes John 18: 1-11.
In that Gospel, Christ and his followers are met by officers carrying swords and torches. The officers were informed of Christ's whereabouts by Judas, who pretends to side with Christ in the ensuing confrontation. When Othello averts the violence that seems imminent with a single sentence, "Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust 'em" (I. ii.
60), he echoes Christ's command to Peter, "Put up thy sword into the sheath" (John 18: 11). However, whereas Christ's calm restraint is due to his resigned acceptance of his fate, Othello's is due to his sense of his own authority. Brabanzio twice accuses Othello of using magic to seduce his daughter (in I. i. 172-173 and I. ii.
73-80), and he repeats the same charge a third time in front of the duke in Act I, scene iii. Even though Shakespeare's audience would have considered elopement with a nobleman's daughter to be a serious, possibly imprisonable offense, Brabanzio insists that he wants to arrest and prosecute Othello specifically for the crime of witchcraft, not for eloping with his daughter without his consent. Brabanzio's racism is clear-he claims that he simply cannot believe that Desdemona would be attracted to the Moor unless her reason and senses were blinded. Yet, it is possible that Brabanzio is not being sincere. He may feel that he needs to accuse Othello of a crime more serious than elopement because he knows the duke will overlook Othello's infraction otherwise. Act I, scene iii The duke's meeting with his senators about the imminent Turkish invasion of Cyprus takes an unexpected turn when a sailor arrives and announces that the Turks seem to have turned toward Rhodes, another island controlled by Venice.
One of the senators guesses that the Turks' change of course is intended to mislead the Venetians, because Cyprus is more important to the Turks and far more vulnerable than Rhodes. This guess proves to be correct, as another messenger arrives to report that the Turks have joined with more forces and are heading back toward Cyprus. This military meeting is interrupted by the arrival of Brabanzio, Othello, Cassio, Iago, Roderigo, and officers. Brabanzio demands that all state business be put aside to address his own grievance-his daughter has been stolen from him by spells and potions purchased from charlatans. The duke is initially eager to take Brabanzio's side, but he becomes more skeptical when he learns that Othello is the man accused. The duke gives Othello the chance to speak for himself.
Othello admits that he married Desdemona, but he denies having used magic to woo her and claims that Desdemona will support his story. He explains that Brabanzio frequently invited him to his house and questioned him about his remarkable life story, full of harrowing battles, travels outside the civilized world, and dramatic reversals of fortune. Desdemona overheard parts of the story and found a convenient time to ask Othello to retell it to her. Desdemona was moved to love Othello by his story. The duke is persuaded by Othello's tale, dismissing Brabanzio's claim by remarking that the story probably would win his own daughter. Desdemona enters, and Brabanzio asks her to tell those present to whom she owes the most obedience.
Brabanzio clearly expects her to say her father. Desdemona, however, confirms that she married Othello of her own free will and that, like her own mother before her, she must shift her primary loyalty from father to husband. Brabanzio reluctantly resigns himself to her decision and allows the court to return to state affairs. The duke decides that Othello must go to Cyprus to defend the island from the Turks. Othello is willing and ready to go, and he asks that appropriate accommodations be provided for his wife. The duke suggests that she stay with her father, but neither Desdemona nor Brabanzio nor Othello will accept this, and Desdemona asks to be allowed to go with Othello.
The couple then leaves to prepare for the night's voyage. The stage is cleared, leaving only Roderigo and Iago. Once again, Roderigo feels that his hopes of winning Desdemona have been dashed, but Iago insists that all will be well. Iago mocks Roderigo for threatening to drown himself, and Roderigo protests that he can't help being tormented by love. Iago contradicts him, asserting that people can choose at will what they want to be. "Put but money in thy purse," Iago tells Roderigo repeatedly in the paragraph that spans lines 329-351, urging him to follow him to Cyprus.
Iago promises to work everything out from there. When Roderigo leaves, Iago delivers his first soliloquy, declaring his hatred for Othello and his suspicion that Othello has slept with his wife, Emilia. He lays out his plan to cheat Roderigo out of his money, to convince Othello that Cassio has slept with Desdemona, and to use Othello's honest and unsuspecting nature to bring him to his demise. Analysis The war between the Turks and Venetians will not prove to be a major part of the play. However, the Turks' "feint"-in which they pretend to sail toward Rhodes to mislead the Venetians into thinking that they will not attack Cyprus-has a symbolic significance.
Throughout the play, deception is one of Iago's major weapons, and his attacks on other characters are particularly devastating because his enemies don't know that he is attacking them. Othello is both an outsider and an insider in Venetian society. His race, physical appearance, and remarkable life history set him apart from the other Venetians, and inspire Brabanzio's fears that Othello is some sort of witch doctor. At the same time, the duke and other characters treat him as an essential part of the Venetian state. When Othello and the others enter, the duke gets straight to business, telling Othello that they must immediately employ him against the Ottoman Turks. Only after delivering these two lines does the duke notice Brabanzio, and, even then, he acknowledges him in a rather demeaning fashion, saying, "I did not see you.
Welcome, gentle signor" (I. iii. 50). Brabanzio's lengthy calls for justice are met only with the duke's desire to hear more from Othello, and once Othello has delivered his long and beautiful speech about wooing Desdemona, the duke feels the subject is closed. As both a physical and a political presence, Othello overshadows Brabanzio.
Shakespeare fleshed out the fantastic details of Othello's past life by drawing on a number of ancient and Renaissance travel writers. Othello clearly attaches great importance to the image of himself as a unique and heroic figure, and it is also important to him that he have a remarkable life story worthy of repeated telling. Not only does he claim that Desdemona fell in love with him because of his story, he says that he fell in love with her because of her reaction to his story. Desdemona confirms or validates something about Othello's self-image, which may suggest why her faithfulness is of such all-consuming importance to him.
Desdemona herself appears remarkably forward and aggressive in Othello's account, particularly in relation to Renaissance expectations of female behavior. She "devour[s] up" his discourse with a "greedy ear," and is the first of the two to hint at the possibility of their loving one another (I. iii. 148-149). Exactly how forward we should imagine Desdemona to be is somewhat uncertain. Modern texts of the play are based upon one of two early editions of Shakespeare's plays, the Quarto edition and the Folio edition.
(Quarto and Folio refer to two different sizes of books. ) In the Quarto, Othello says, "My story being done, / She gave me for my pains a world of sighs," whereas in the Folio, he says, "She gave me for my pains a world of kisses" (I. iii. 157-158). In both editions, Othello is ambiguous about whether he or Desdemona played the more active role in the courtship, which could mean that he is somewhat uncomfortable-either embarrassed or upset-with Desdemona's aggressive pursuit of him. In Act I, scene ii, lines 149-154, for instance, he says that he observed that Desdemona wanted him to retell his tale, so he found a way to get her to ask him to tell it, and then he consented.
This seems an unnecessarily complicated way of describing what happened, and suggests either that Othello was uncertain which of them played the leading role or that he wants to insist that his own role was more active than it actually was. When Desdemona finally enters and speaks for herself, she does indeed seem outspoken and assertive, as well as generous and devoted. In her speech about her "divided duty" as a wife and a daughter, Desdemona shows herself to be poised and intelligent, as capable of loving as of being loved, and able to weigh her competing loyalties respectfully and judiciously (I. iii. 180). In arguing for her right to accompany Othello to Cyprus, she insists upon the "violence" and unconventionality of her attachment to Othello (I.
iii. 248-249). In declaring "I did love the Moor to live with him," she frankly insists on the sexual nature of her love (I. iii.
248). She is saying that she isn't content to marvel at Othello's stories; she wants to share his bed. As the plot progresses, Desdemona's sexual aggressiveness will upset Othello more and more. In explaining her love for Othello, she states that she "saw Othello's visage in his mind," which might mean either that she saw a different face inside him than the one the rest of the world sees, or "I saw him as he sees himself," supporting the idea that she validates or upholds Othello's sense of self. Act II, scenes i-ii Summary: Act II, scene i On the shores of Cyprus, Montano, the island's governor, watches a storm with two gentlemen. Just as Montano says that the Turkish fleet of ships could not survive the storm, a third gentlemen comes to confirm his prediction: as his ship traveled from Venice, Cassio witnessed that the Turks lost most of their fleet in the tempest.
It is still uncertain whether Othello's ship has been able to survive the storm. Hope lifts as voices offstage announce the sighting of a sail offshore, but the new ship turns out to be carrying Iago, Emilia, Desdemona, and Roderigo. Desdemona disembarks, and no sooner does Cassio tell her that Othello has yet to arrive than a friendly shot announces the arrival of a third ship. While the company waits for the ship, Cassio and Desdemona tease Emilia about being a chatterbox, but Iago quickly takes the opportunity to criticize women in general as deceptive and hypocritical, saying they are lazy in all matters except sex: "You rise to play and go to bed to work" (II.
i. 118). Desdemona plays along, laughing as Iago belittles women, whether beautiful or ugly, intelligent or stupid, as equally despicable. Cassio takes Desdemona away to speak with her privately about Othello's arrival.
Iago notices that Cassio takes Desdemona's hand as he talks to her, and, in an aside, Iago plots to use Cassio's hand-holding to frame him so that he loses his newly gained promotion to lieutenant. "With as little a web as this I will ensnare as great a fly as Cassio," he asserts (II. i. 169). Othello arrives safely and greets Desdemona, expressing his devotion to her and giving her a kiss. He then thanks the Cypriots for their welcome and hospitality, and orders Iago to unload the ship.
All but Roderigo and Iago head to the castle to celebrate the drowning of the Turks. Iago tells the despondent Roderigo that Desdemona will soon grow tired of being with Othello and will long for a more well-mannered and handsome man. But, Iago continues, the obvious first choice for Desdemona will be Cassio, whom Iago characterizes over and over again as a "knave" (II. i. 231-239). Roderigo tries to argue that Cassio was merely being polite by taking Desdemona's hand, but Iago convinces him of Cassio's ill intentions and convinces Roderigo to start a quarrel with Cassio that evening.
He posits that the uproar the quarrel will cause in the still tense city will make Cassio fall out of favor with Othello. Left alone onstage again, Iago explains his actions to the audience in a soliloquy. He secretly lusts after Desdemona, partially because he suspects that Othello has slept with Emilia, and he wants to get even with the Moor "wife for wife" (II. i. 286). But, Iago continues, if he is unable to get his revenge by sleeping with Desdemona, Roderigo's accusation of Cassio will make Othello suspect his lieutenant of sleeping with his wife and torture Othello to madness.
Summary: Act II, scene ii A herald announces that Othello plans revelry for the evening in celebration of Cyprus's safety from the Turks, and also in celebration of his marriage to Desdemona. Analysis: Act II, scenes i-ii Like Act I, scene ii, the first scene of Act II begins with emphasis on the limitations of sight. "What from the cape can you discern at sea?" Montano asks, and the gentleman replies, "Nothing at all. It is a high-wrought flood" (II.
i. 1-2). The emphasis on the limitations of physical sight in a tempest foreshadows what will, after Act III, become Othello's metaphorical blindness, caused by his passion and rage. Similarly, once the physical threat that the Turks pose has been eliminated, the more psychological, less tangible threat posed by inner demons assumes dramatic precedence. The play extinguishes the external threat with almost ridiculous speed. The line "News, lads! Our wars are done," is all that is needed to dismiss the plot involving the Turks (II.
i. 20). It is as though one kind of play ends at the end of Act II, scene ii, and another begins: what seemed to be a political tragedy becomes a domestic tragedy. Whereas the action of the play began on the streets of Venice and proceeded to the court and then to the beaches of Cyprus, it now moves to the passageways of Othello's residence on the island and ultimately ends in his bedchamber. The effect is almost cinematic-like a long and gradual close-up that restricts the visible space around the tragic hero, emphasizing his metaphorical blindness and symbolizing his imprisonment in his own jealous fantasies. This ever-tightening focus has led many readers to characterize the play as "claustrophobic." The banter between Iago and Desdemona creates a nervous, uncomfortable atmosphere, in part because their levity is inappropriate, given that Othello's ship remains missing.
The rhyming couplets in which Iago expresses his misogynistic insults lend them an eerie, alienating quality, and Desdemona's active encouragement of Iago is somewhat puzzling. Once again, Desdemona establishes herself as an outspoken and independent woman-she does not depend upon her husband's presence either socially or intellectually. However, Desdemona does not suggest that she has any interest in cheating on her husband. Iago himself tells us that he will make a mountain out of the molehill represented by Cassio's holding of Desdemona's hand. Although Iago verbally abuses women in this scene-presumably because it is safe for him to do so-his real resentment seems to be against those characters who have a higher social class than he does, including Cassio and Desdemona. Iago resents Cassio for being promoted ahead of him, and Cassio's promotion is likely due to his higher class status.
At the beginning of the play, Iago argued that he ought to have been promoted based upon his worth as a soldier, and he expressed bitterness that "[p]re ferment goes by letter and affection, / And not by old gradation" (I. i. 35-36). In Act II, scene i, Cassio contributes to Iago's anger by taunting the ensign about his inferior status: "Let it not gall your patience, good Iago, / That I extend my manners. 'Tis my breeding / That gives me this bold show of courtesy" (II. i.
100-102). Not long afterward, Iago makes fun of Roderigo for being "base" (meaning lower class), even though the play does not indicate that Roderigo is, in fact, of lower status than Iago (II. i. 212). In the soliloquy that concludes Act II, scene i, Iago once again explains quite clearly what he intends to do, despite his comment that his plan is "yet confused" (II. i.
298). At the same time, his statements about what motivates him are hazy and confusing. Is he motivated by lust for Desdemona, envy of Cassio, or jealousy over his wife's supposed affair with Othello? He even throws in a bizarre parenthetical suspicion that Cassio might also have slept with his wife (II. i. 294).
It is as though Iago mocks the audience for attempting to determine his motives; he treats the audience as he does Othello and Roderigo, leading his listeners "by th' nose / As asses are [led]" (I. iii. 383-384). For each of Iago's actions, he creates a momentary and unimportant justification. Act II, scene iii Summary Othello leaves Cassio on guard during the revels, reminding him to practice self-restraint during the celebration. Othello and Desdemona leave to consummate their marriage.
Once Othello is gone, Iago enters and joins Cassio on guard. He tells Cassio that he suspects Desdemona to be a temptress, but Cassio maintains that she is modest. Then, despite Cassio's protestations, Iago persuades Cassio to take a drink and to invite some revelers to join them. Once Cassio leaves to fetch the revelers, Iago tells the audience his plan: Roderigo and three other Cypriots, all of whom are drunk, will join Iago and Cassio on guard duty. Amidst all the drunkards, Iago will lead Cassio into committing an action that will disgrace him. Cassio returns, already drinking, with Montano and his attendants.
It is not long before he becomes intoxicated and wanders offstage, assuring his friends that he isn't drunk. Once Cassio leaves, Iago tells Montano that while Cassio is a wonderful soldier, he fears that Cassio may have too much responsibility for someone with such a serious drinking problem. Roderigo enters, and Iago points him in Cassio's direction. As Montano continues to suggest that something be said to Othello of Cassio's drinking problem, Cassio chases Roderigo across the stage, threatening to beat him. Montano steps in to prevent the fight and is attacked by Cassio. Iago orders Roderigo to leave and "cry a mutiny" (II.
iii. 140). As Montano and others attempt to hold Cassio down, Cassio stabs Montano. An alarm bell is rung, and Othello arrives with armed attendants.
Immediately taking control of the situation, Othello demands to know what happy.