Wiliam Shakespeare
Contributed by Karim Chandra
Act 3 Scene 1

Cassio holds a meeting with a group of musician and another countryman. He sends them to go and fetch Emilia from wherever she was. When Emilia comes, Iago sends him to go and get information regarding the conversation between Cassio and Desdemona. She comes back with the report that indeed there was a talk between Desdemona and Cassio. Desdemona listened and conveyed his message to Othello, who in return promises to reinstate him when the right time comes.


This scene lacks the drama that has characterized the last scene. It acts as comic relief, and the audience is drawn back to the most critical issues in the play.  The scene is a curtain raiser for a flurry of activities that are supposed to take place in a short while. It happens the following day in the morning. Iago is meeting with a group of musicians who are expected to entertain Othello and Desdemona. Apart from the musicians, there is also a clown, a jester. This character was popular in many renaissances plays they were useful in adding humor to the plays. These characters are usually witty, and they have a way with words. In this scene, the clown makes fun about ‘wind' instruments. He also purposefully misuses the words ‘tales' and ‘tails' before making fun of the musicians. It appears that Othello does not like the musicians and the clown dismisses them to "vanish into the air, away!" (21).

Cassio provides the clown with a gold piece and an instrument, before sending him to Emilia; "the gentlewoman that attends the [General's wife]" (26-27), that Cassio would like to talk to her. As the clown leaves, Iago enters. He notices that Cassio has not slept although it is late. Cassio discloses to Iago that he has accepted to follow his advice and seek the help of Desdemona. Iago is excited, and he promises Cassio that he would keep Othello busy so that the two may converse and business" (40) of Cassio and Desdemona "may be freer" (41). As Iago leaves the house, Cassio appreciates his kindness by stating that, he "never knew / A Florentine more kind and honest" than Iago (42-43). The audience is aware that this is not the true nature of Iago. Everything that he is doing is a meticulous calculation to arrive at his objectives-finishing Othello.

When Emilia enters, she shows sorrow and remorse at the trouble that befell the Moor's ex-lieutenant. It is from Emilia that Cassio learns that Desdemona already "speaks . . . Stoutly" to Othello about the incident. However, due to the nature of the crime, Othello is not willing to reinstate him immediately. Desdemona puts up a strong case for Cassio that, "protests he loves you, / And . . . [will] take the safest [soonest] occasion . . . To bring you in again" (50-53). The news is exceedingly good to Cassio. As a result, he requests Emilia to arrange for a personal meeting with Desdemona. Emilia promises to make that arrangement.

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