Check out my  Othello book summary and review  that I created to help you understand the basics of this great book.Otello (original title The tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice) is a Shakespearean tragedy written in the early 17th century. Taken from a story by Giambattista Giraldi Cinzio contained in the Ecatommiti. The first documented performance took place on November 1, 1604 at the Whitehall Palace in London.

 

Othello book


  Othello book summary

 

The tragedy opens with two men arguing with each other, a rich and dissolute gentleman named Roderigo and his friend the standard bearer Iago: the first complains because the second hides a secret marriage between Desdemona, daughter of Senator Brabanzio. , and Otello died in the service of the Venetian republic; Roderigo is disappointed because he loves Desdemona and had asked his father to marry her.

For his part, Iago hates Othello for putting a certain Cassio, a young man whom Iago considers less capable than him, in a superior position to him. Wanting to exploit Othello to his own advantage, the bishop convinces Roderigo to wake Brabanzio and reveal the kinship of his daughter,

 while he himself finds Othello and warns him of the senator's arrival. Brabanzio learns of it and, enraged, reaches the residence of Othello, finding it full of guards of the Doge of Venice. The news has also arrived that the Turks are approaching Cyprus, and therefore Othello is recalled to warn the senators.

Brabanzio is therefore forced to bring the Moor to the ducal residence, where there are also various senators and men from Brabanzio, including Lodovico, cousin of Desdemona and lord of Cyprus, and Gratian, brother of Brabanzio.

 Forced to defend himself against the accusations of having seduced Desdemona with witchcraft, Otello explains to those present that the woman fell in love with him because of her stories of her life before Venice; Desdemona confirms her love for Othello, and satisfied, the Senate lets the Moor go, but Brabanzio seriously advises him to be careful of Desdemona,

 unaware of having news from Iago. At that point Othello leaves Venice to fight the Turks, accompanied by Cassio, Iago, Desdemona and his assistant Emilia, consort of the bishop.


Arriving in Cyprus, the Venetians discover that the Turkish fleet has been destroyed by a storm. Othello then orders a party for everyone, where the Moor consummates his marriage with Desdemona. Iago takes the opportunity to get Cassio drunk, and then convinces Roderigo to quarrel with the young man;

 seeing how the latter is easily provoked, also thanks to the wine, Montano tries to calm Cassio, but the latter challenges him to a duel and wounds him. Otello reappears and, having learned what had happened, at the end accuses Cassio of having ruined the party and snatches all credit from him.

Embittered, Cassio is approached by Iago, who convinces him to ask Desdemona to persuade her husband to rehabilitate him. The combination of persuasions succeeds: Iago convinces Cassio, who convinces Desdemona who convinces Othello, and Cassio goes back to being the lieutenant of the Moor.


In reality this is part of Iago's plans, because Otello secretly witnessed the conversation between Cassio and Desdemona, and moreover on the advice of the bishop. Having learned this, Iago then advises him to be wary of them: if the two are accomplices, it is likely that they will also become lovers. Ironically, all Desdemona's efforts out of disinterest in Cassio will feed the seed of doubt sown by Iago.

When Desdemona drops a handkerchief (the first gift Othello gave her), Emilia finds it and takes it to her husband Iago, unaware of her machinations. Othello appears and Iago shows him the handkerchief and tells him he saw it in Cassio's possession. Increasingly suspicious, the dark-haired man asks his wife to show him the handkerchief,

 which she obviously cannot do; More and more convinced that he has been betrayed, Otello then returns to Iago, appoints him as his new lieutenant and agrees with him to spy on Desdemona and Cassio to find confirmation of his suspicions. This dialogue, set in the third scene of the third act, represents the turning point of the opera, where Iago realizes that he has succeeded in planting the seed of doubt in Othello's mind and thus having marked the fall of the Moor.

 Iago puts the handkerchief in Cassio's quarters, then advises Othello to observe the young man's reactions while Iago questions him. The Bishop urges Cassio to talk about his relationship with Bianca, a local courtesan, but he whispers her name so softly that Othello believes the two men are talking about Desdemona.

 Later, Bianca accuses Cassio of giving her a second-hand gift that she had received from another lover. Othello sees him, and Iago convinces him that Cassio has received the handkerchief from Desdemona.

Furious and humiliated, Othello decides to kill his wife (who will personally kill him in his bed) and orders Iago to kill Cassio. So that no one misses a traitor, the Moor begins to make Desdemona's life more and more miserable, and, during the visit of some Venetian nobles,

 he beats her in front of those present. Meanwhile Lodovico announces that Il Moro is recalled to Venice and that Cassio has succeeded him as governor of Cyprus. Roderigo complains that he has not received results from Iago in exchange for his money and his efforts to conquer Desdemona,

 but the bishop convinces him that he is doing well in his interests and that he must kill Cassio to get Desdemona. The latter, obeying her husband, prepares to go to bed, even if from her attitude she seems to predict the disastrous fate that awaits her.


Roderigo reaches Cassio when he leaves Bianca's quarters and attacks him: Cassio seriously injures the attacker, but Iago comes out from behind him and severely cuts his leg, so he manages to hide his identity by mixing with his shadows; when Lodovico and Graziano hear Cassio's cries for help, Iago joins them.

 When Cassio identifies Roderigo as one of his attackers, Iago secretly stabs Roderigo to prevent him from revealing the plot, and then accuses Bianca of the failed plot to kill Cassio.

Othello joins Desdemona instead and, although he hesitates for her because he still loves her, he eventually suffocates her with a pillow. Emilia arrives and the dying Desdemona defends her husband despite accusing him of adultery. Emilia asks for help and Graziano,

 Iago and Montano, the former governor of Cyprus, intervene. When Otello confirms Desdemona's allegations of adultery and mentions her handkerchief as proof of her, Emilia understands what Iago's husband did and denounces him; Iago kills her instantly and escapes chased by Montano, who eventually captures him and brings him back as a prisoner. Cassio also arrives, on a stretcher, revealing the plot and two letters found on Roderigo's body.

Realizing Desdemona's innocence late, Othello stabs Iago but not to death, and tells him that he is a devil and deserves to spend the rest of his life in pain. Iago refuses to explain his motives, vowing to remain silent from that moment on.


 Lodovico arrests both Iago and Otello for the murders of Roderigo, Emilia and Desdemona, but Otello commits suicide by joining his wife. Lodovico appoints Cassio, Othello's successor, governor of Cyprus and leaves to tell the others what happened, leaving the young man to take care of Iago's execution.

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