The three characters: Iago, Desdemona, and Othello himself all seemed to view honesty and moral values in their own personal ways; some were deserving of trust, some not.
elicits at length a true feeling of Iago's mind, the dread of contempt habitual to those, who encourage in themselves, and have their keenest pleasure in, the expression of con-tempt for others. Observe Iago's high self-opinion, and the moral, that a wicked man will employ real feelings, as well as assume those most alien from his own, as instru-ments of his purposes:
Nonetheless he allows the threat to his pride that Desdemona's infidelity would represent, to allow him to trust Iago on some very circumstantial evidence (Iago saying Cassio boasted of sleeping with Desdemona, Cassio having Desdemona's handkerchief and Cassio talking about a woman Othello does not realize is Bianca) which leads to his murdering his wife, to prevent her abusing other men when we really know it is to avenge his own pride.
We start out in We meet two guys early on: Iago and Roderigo. Iago, who's been taking money from Roderigo in some sort of "arrangement," is upset at "the Moor," a.k.a. Othello, our tragic hero. Othello is a general in the Venetian army, and he just chose another man, Cassio, to be his lieutenant. This angers Iago, who wanted the position for himself.
Iago and Roderigo decide to get back at Othello by making a nighttime visit to Brabantio, the father of Desdemona (a.k.a. the woman Othello has recently eloped with). When Iago and Roderigo tattle on Othello for marrying Desdemona without her father's permission, Brabantio rushes to his daughter's room and discovers that she is missing. According to the angry father, this must mean that "the Moor" somehow "tricked" his daughter into whatever the two of them are doing together.
in the next day or so, who's hanging out with Iago and talking about his new wife, Desdemona. Trouble is brewing since Brabantio is a senator and therefore pretty influential. It's clear that he'll try to split the pair up. But Othello isn't worried. Since he's legendary in the Venetian military, he believes his service record will get him through just fine. He adds that he really loves Desdemona, too.
The conversation is interrupted by Michael Cassio (the guy who got the lieutenant position over Iago), who says the Duke of Venice needs to see Othello right away, because there's some military action going down in Cyprus. Before everyone can peacefully exit, Brabantio shows up with Roderigo and various henchmen, ready to kill Othello or at least maim him severely for having the audacity to marry his daughter. Looks like everyone is off to see the Duke and settle the matter.
Once we get to the Duke, Othello speaks in his defense: he says Desdemona was an equal participant in their courting, and there was no trickery involved. They're now very much in love and married. Our woman in question, i.e. Desdemona, finally arrives and confirms the whole story. At this, the Duke tells Brabantio to stop whining and sends Othello to fight the battle in Cyprus. Desdemona states that she'll come along, as do Iago, his wife Emilia, Cassio, and Roderigo.
Iago and Roderigo have a little conversation during which Roderigo complains about being for Desdemona, and Iago says he'll get them together as soon as they bring down Othello. Once alone, Iago reveals a rumor that Othello was having sex with Iago's wife, Emilia. (The rumor is totally untrue and it's not even clear that Iago believes it.) To get revenge, he'll take out Cassio and Othello by convincing Othello that Cassio is having sex with Othello's wife, Desdemona.
So our cast of characters gets transported to Cyprus, where instead of battle there's just a big party (long story, read your play for the details). We note that Cassio is a especially around Emilia. While on watch together, Iago gets Cassio drunk and orchestrates a fight between him and Roderigo.
Othello intervenes and fires Cassio for being belligerently drunk instead of doing his job. Iago then convinces Cassio that he should ask Desdemona to tell Othello to give him back his job. Once alone, Iago schemes more about how he's going to convince Othello that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio.
Cassio talks to Desdemona and she agrees to try to convince her husband to give Cassio his job back. As Othello is seen approaching, Cassio slinks off, not wanting to have an awkward moment with the guy that just fired him. Iago (entering with Othello) notes how suspicious it is that Cassio hurried off like that. Once the two men are alone, Cassio, he hints, is having an affair with Desdemona. He warns Othello to keep his eye out for anything suspicious, like Desdemona talking about Cassio all the time and pleading for his job back.
Othello is so upset he gets physically ill. Once Desdemona is back, she tries to bandage his head playfully with the "special handkerchief" Othello once gave her, a symbol of their undying love, an heirloom from his dead mother, and eventually the cause of a whole lot of trouble—which is why we later call it "the handkerchief of death."
To make a long story short, Emilia steals the handkerchief for her husband Iago, whom we learn has asked for it repeatedly in the past. Iago plants the handkerchief of death in Cassio's room. Othello enters, and Iago furthers Othello's suspicions with the aid of various outright lies. When Othello learns about the handkerchief, he decides that Desdemona is cheating on him, and because of that, she has to die.
The next scene brings us to Othello arguing with Desdemona while Emilia watches. He wants to know where the handkerchief is and Desdemona, oblivious, wants to talk about Cassio. Fighting ensues.
Shortly afterwards, we meet Bianca, a prostitute who's in love with Cassio. Cassio gives her the handkerchief he got from Iago, and swears it's not a love token from another woman. Some time later, Iago sets up a conversation between himself and Cassio, in which he gets Cassio to speak provocatively about Bianca. According to Iago's plan, somehow Othello, hiding and listening in, will think Cassio's speaking of Desdemona.
To make matters even worse, Bianca storms in and throws the special handkerchief in Cassio's face, having discovered that it indeed belonged to another woman. She storms out, with Cassio following behind her. Othello rages for a bit, and Iago advises that he strangle Desdemona. The next time the couple interacts, Othello hits her in the face (in front of a messenger from Venice telling him he has to go back home). Shortly after that, Othello yells at his wife, calling her a "whore," a "strumpet," and lots of other hurtful names. Filled with jealousy and indignation, he eventually resolves to kill his wife.
Back on the other manipulation front, Roderigo is getting tired of Iago taking all his money and not delivering the goods (i.e., Desdemona), as promised. Iago tells him to and also to kill Cassio when the opportunity arises, which, according to Iago, will happen that night between midnight and 1:00 AM.
Meanwhile, Desdemona and Emilia are talking together, and Desdemona begins to act strangely, foreshadowing her own death. She sings of it, too. Emilia, meanwhile, defends the act of cheating on one's spouse, especially if there's a good reason for it.
Iago and Roderigo hang out, waiting for Cassio. Roderigo tries to stab Cassio, fails, gets stabbed himself, and looks to be in trouble until Iago sneaks up and stabs Cassio in the leg. Two Venetian gentlemen run in at the sound of Cassio's screaming. Iago pretends he just stumbled in himself, declares Roderigo to be the assailant, and stabs Roderigo to death before the man can claim otherwise. Bianca runs in and screams a bit, and Iago tries to pin the mess on her. Emilia enters and Iago He instructs her to tell Othello and his wife about the news.
Othello, meanwhile, kills Desdemona, just as Emilia enters the room. In this moment of confusion, Emilia reports (incorrectly) to Othello that Cassio killed Roderigo. Othello is furious to find that Cassio is still alive, as that was definitely not the plan. Emilia finally puts two and two together and realizes her own husband is the cause of everyone's tragedy.
As people pour into the room, Emilia outs Iago for being a Iago promptly stabs his wife, but not so promptly that the truth can't come out first. Othello demands to know why Iago ruined his entire life, but Iago refuses to give him (and us) a good reason. The Venetian gentlemen decide to take Othello back to Venice to face his punishment for killing his wife, and Cassio inherits Othello's post in Cyprus. Othello, overwhelmed by grief, decides to end his life rather than live without Desdemona.
After being deployed to Cyprus, Othello returns to Venice and elopes with Desdemona, the daughter of a respected Venetian senator. Othello is manipulated by his Ensign, Iago, into believing Desdemona is an adultress. He murders Desdemona in her sleep and, upon discovering Iago's deceit, kills himself. Problems of identity, honesty, gender and marriage are issues addressed and interwoven in the plot. Although the title of the play suggests that the tragedy belongs primarily to Othello, it does not. Iago plays the villain who manipulates the action and causes the death of Desdemona and consequently causes Othello to commit suicide. Iago manipulates the other characters at will. He achieves this by getting close to all characters and playing on their weaknesses, while seemingly unaware of his duplicitous nature, they refer to him as "honest" Iago.
In addition to losing his life, Othello also loses his reputation in Act V, when Lodovico scolds Othello for acting like a common slave, when until recently he was so much more, a man well respected by the Duke of Venice amongst others. A tragic figure, Othello allowed his misplaced trust (in Iago's honesty) and his pride to undo all that he had...
Othello was first mentioned in a Revels account of 1604. The play was performed at Whitehall Palace with Richard Burbage as the first actor to play the role of Othello. The first African American to play Othello in London was Ira Aldridge. In 1930, Paul Robeson (1898-1976) was the second. Robeson was also connected to Aldridge through Amanda Aldridge (Ira’s daughter) from whom he took elocution lessons in preparation for this role.
Central to the plot of the tragedy, Desdemona is the wife of Othello and the daughter of Brabantio, a well-known senator. She was a young Venetian woman of high birth and good breeding. Venetian aristocracy tried to keep their bloodlines pure and therefore Othello’s marriage to Desdemona not only violated the state and religious order but what they felt was the order of nature itself. Her reputation was lost when she violated the city of Venice’s virgin image. Problems of identity, honesty, gender and marriage are all interwoven in the plot.
Through the course of this tragedy, Cassio's fortunes change considerably. In Act I, he is Othello's loyal and trusted lieutenant. In Act II, he is Othello's loyal friend in Cypress and respectful admirer of Desdemona but in Act II, Scene III, is manipulated to fight Roderigo, hitting him and Montano, and consequently losing his position as Othello's "lieutenant".
The other main characters in the play all form their own opinions of him and as the play continues, his character begins to deteriorate and become less noble.
In Act III, Iago is Othello's remorseful friend who hopes Desdemona's good words will reinstate him, unaware that they merely implicate him in Iago's plan to make him look like Desdemona's lover and Cassio also reveals himself to be a neglectful boyfriend to his mistress Bianca.
Othello’s officer Iago tricks him into believing that his wife, Desdemona is having an affair with his Lieutenant, Michael Cassio. Othello kills his wife out of jealousy by suffocating her in her sleep, only to realize that his wife was faithful, at which point he repents and commits suicide.