Summary of Othello by Shakespeare

  1. Major Characters in Shakespeare’s Play “Othello”

Othello: A Moor (an African). He is a military man with great repute for showing courage in many battles.

Iago: Othello is also a military man. He expects promotion but Othello favours Cassio. Iago does not bear it and takes revenge on both of them.

Desdemona: A noble Venetian lady, daughter of Brabantio. She is courageous and loyal to her husband.

Brabantio: He is Desdemona’s father. He is not happy with his daughter’s decision of marrying a Moor, Othello.

Roderigo:  He is in love with Desdemona. He requests Iago to pursue Desdemona on his behalf.

Cassio: Othello’s lieutenant in the Venetian defense forces.

Bianca: She is a prostitute.

Emilia: She is Iago’s wife. Iago uses her as a cat’s paw to exploit the situation.

Gratiano:  He is Brabantio’s brother.

Lodovico:  Desdemona’s cousin.

Montano: Othello’s friend and loyal supporter.

Summary & Critical Analysis of Shakespeare’s Play Othello in English

Actually, Shakespeare wrote this play based on the idea discussed in a short narrative, “Giraldi Gli Hecatommithi” which was published in 1565. However, despite the fact that Shakespeare got its plot from the writing mentioned above, he gave it a variety and newness. He actually founded his drama on the struggle of Venice against the Ottoman Empire to have a control over Cyprus.  It was a time when Cyprus was in the control of Venice but it lost Cyprus and it came under the possession of the Turks. In the same year, Christian powers defeated the Turks and captured Cyprus. If we study the book, we are surprised to see the references about “The Turks.” We can say that the theme of “Othello” is something more than these references because it can be studied as a play of ‘Revenge’, ‘Love-hate Relationship’, ‘Jealousy’, ‘Racism’, ‘The Fear of Self-isolation’, and ‘Duplicity’ etc.

When the play opens, we see Iago and Roderigo standing outside Brabantio’s house and telling him about the elopement of his daughter with Othello.

Having told this, Iago goes leaving Roderigo behind to confirm the story. But then he goes straight to Othello and tells him the reaction of Brabantio at their marriage. Next we see Brabantio, Desdemona and Othello appearing before the Duke of Venice. Here Othello is accused by Brabantio but Othello clarifies that Desdemona married him for his adventurous tales.

The Duke orders Othello to leave for Cyprus immediately as general of the defense forces against the Turks. Here, Iago starts his plan of sowing the seeds of doubt in Othello’s mind about his wife’s fidelity. Iago tries to prove before Othello that Cassio is his wife’s lover. Iago arranges a fight making use of Roderigo. This fight ends in Cassio’s demotion. On the other hand, he beguiles Cassio and assures that his promotion is possible if Desdemona pleads his case before her husband. He arranges a private meeting between Cassio and Othello. She also assures Cassio that she will try her level best for the reconciliation between her husband and Cassio.

After Cassio goes, Iago and Othello make appearance. Othello witnesses Cassio’s speedy departure and Iago exploits the situation saying to Othello that Cassio is trying to avoid Othello. Desdemona requests Othello to forgive Cassio. Desdemona and Emilia go but Iago starts creating doubt in Othello’s mind. Othello asks Iago to give him the proof of his wife’s unfaithfulness. Iago plays another trick. He uses Desdemona’s handkerchief which she dropped incidentally, and then has a conversation with Cassio. It further aggravates the situation. Othello says to Iago that he will kill Desdemona. And Iago will kill his enemy, Cassio.

Iago persuades Roderigo to kill Cassio to find his beloved but when he attacks Cassio, Cassio wounds him. Then, we see Othello going to meet Desdemona. When she realizes that he intends to kill her, she assures him of her faithfulness. But he does not believe her. He kills her but in the end, when he knows the reality, he repents but it is too late. He stabs himself and falls down dead on the bed where his wife is also lying dead.