36 pages 1 hour read

William Shakespeare


Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1604

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Act IChapter Summaries & Analyses

Scene 1 Summary

Iago complains to Roderigo that his commander Othello, a Moor, has promoted Cassio to be his lieutenant instead of the more battle-hardened Iago. When Roderigo suggests he quit his post, Iago tells him he instead plans to pretend to serve Othello while acting in his own self-interest. To that end, he suggests that he and Roderigo alert Desdemona’s father, Brabantio, that she has eloped with Othello. Roderigo, a rejected suitor of Desdemona, agrees, and the two wake Brabantio and incite him with lewd, racist references to miscegenation: “Even now, now, very now, an old black ram/Is tupping your white ewe” (97-98). When Brabantio discovers that Desdemona is missing, he raises an armed mob and asks Roderigo to lead him to Othello. Iago, not wanting to be seen working against Othello, exits before Brabantio can recognize him.

Scene 2 Summary

At Othello’s residence, Iago, pretending to be allied with Othello, warns him of Brabantio’s anger and impending arrival. Othello expresses confidence that his past service to the Venetian government, noble status, and legal marriage to Desdemona will protect him. Cassio enters and informs Othello that the senate has summoned him for an urgent matter of state.