Othello minimized

Othello, the Moor, is a general in the Venetian army.  At the time of the play, Venice was more of a city-state than a city and had far-reaching overseas interests, Cyprus being one of them. Othello has appointed a man named Iago as his Ancient, the lowest officer level, and Iago considers the position an insult.  Iago seeks to destroy Othello by playing with his heart, Othello being married to Desdemona.

1. Othello has eloped with a Venetian senator’s daughter, and her father is upset. The Turkish navy is heading for Cyprus. The duke of Venice needs Othello to lead his forces in Cyprus. Othello is located. Desdemona lets her father know of her love for Othello. She and Othello leave for Cyprus. Othello’s Lieutenant Cassio, Iago and Roderigo (Iago’s friend and Desdemona’s ex-boyfriend) also go to Cyprus. 

2. The Turkish navy is lost in a storm at sea.  The Venetians arrive safely. Roderigo is not over Desdemona. Iago convinces Roderigo that they should “unite in our revenge against him.” Iago’s plan is to use Cassio. Cassio has too much to drink. Iago talks Roderigo into starting a fight with Cassio, which turns into a fight between Cassio and a Cypriot official, irritating Othello, who lifts Cassio’s commission. Iago suggests Cassio “confess himself freely to Desdemona.” Iago tells Othello that Desdemona will “strive to do Cassio good.” Iago’s wife is Emilia, Desdemona’s aide.

3. Desdemona tells Cassio she “will do all my abilities in thy behalf.”  As Othello enters, Cassio slips away, noticed by Othello.  Iago questions Desdemona’s faithfulness. Othello complains of a headache. Desdemona presses her handkerchief “spotted with strawberries” to his forehead; it drops; Emilia picks it up; Iago grabs it from her, telling her “to not admit to knowing about it.”  Iago places it in Cassio’s bedroom. Othello asks Iago to “give me ocular proof.” Iago tells him of the handkerchief “spotted with strawberries.”  Othello appoints Iago his lieutenant.

4. Overhearing Cassio talk about the handkerchief, Othello asks Iago to “get me some poison.” Iago responds “strangle her in her bed.” A Venetian official arrives, letting Othello know that Cassio is to replace him. Othello is dismayed.  Desdemona says to the official that she is upset “for the love I bear for Cassio.” Othello strikes her. Iago tells Roderigo to “remove Cassio.” Othello demands Desdemona return home.

5. Roderigo tries to kill Cassio, but fails, seriously injuring himself. Cassio exits. Iago kills the injured Roderigo, fearing truth will out.  Othello smothers his wife with a pillow. He comes to realize that he has been duped by Iago. Emilia tells it like it is. Iago kills her and is captured. Othello says “’tis happiness to die.” The official reports that “Cassio rules in Cyprus.” Othello kills himself. Iago is turned over to Cassio.