36 pages 1 hour read

William Shakespeare


Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1604

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Act IIChapter Summaries & Analyses

Scene 1 Summary

A storm destroys the Turkish fleet, and Cassio, Roderigo, Iago, Emilia, and Desdemona land in Cyprus, victorious, but concerned that Othello’s ship has not yet arrived. Cassio kisses Iago’s wife, Emilia, upon meeting her. Iago makes insulting jokes about Emilia’s chiding nature then goes on to make sexist generalizations about women: “Come on, come on! You are pictures out of door,/bells in your parlors, wildcats in your kitchens,/saints in your injuries, devils being offended, players/in your huswifery, and huswives in your beds” (122-25). Desdemona goads Iago into further wordplay that becomes increasingly insulting towards women, at one point saying that the destiny of a beautiful, eloquent, modest, wise, and restrained woman is to nurse babies and pinch pennies.

Othello enters and reunites with Desdemona. After the two exits, Iago tells Roderigo that Desdemona is in love with Cassio, saying that Othello is too old and ugly to hold her sexual interest. He predicts that Desdemona and Cassio will become lovers unless Roderigo gets Cassio out of the way by drawing him into a fight, which will compel Othello to fire him. When he’s alone, Iago states that he thinks Cassio and Desdemona could really love each other, that he hates Othello but admits he is a good and loving man and husband, and that he himself loves Desdemona in a vengeful parallel to Othello’s rumored infidelity with his own wife.