Wiliam Shakespeare
Contributed by Karim Chandra
Act 4 Scene 1

 In a conversation with Cassio, Othello hears that Cassio has confessed to sleeping with Desdemona. Upon hearing this, Othello becomes weak and collapses. In a little while, Cassio enters the room and Iago explains that Othello has always had epilepsy and the seizures are quite common. Iago makes the decision not to try to revive Othello, instead of letting fit to take its course. He then instructs Cassio to leave the building and come later. Othello regains his conscience, and he starts saying weird things. Then, Iago sees Cassio approaching and tells Othello to pull himself and hide so that he may hear the manner in which Cassio is talking about his venture with Desdemona.

Just as Iago has indicated to him, Othello withdraws, not knowing that Iago is manipulating him. However, he has become emotionally involved to a level that he is willing to anything as long as there is a promise that it would give him relief. Cassio and Iago are talking about Bianca. From a distance, Othello can see Cassio smiling and laughing, although he does not hear what they are saying. Othello gets to believe that Cassio is talking about how much Bianca loves him. In the middle of the conversation, Bianca enters the room. She is holding the handkerchief in her hands. She takes the handkerchief and throws it at Cassio. The moment Othello sees the handkerchief in the hand of Cassio's mistress is the moment he sees the proof of what he has always suspected. He has confirmed Desdemona's infidelity, and both of them must die, tonight.


Iago, while putting on a show to console Othello, is rubbing salt into his injuries. Their discussion is of non-existent acts, regardless of whether they constitute treason or not, but rather Othello envisions them all being carried on by Desdemona and Cassio. However, this is only the warm-up to the theme that Iago has found can most effortlessly awaken Othello's interests: the cloth. Othello, in his reasoning, expect it is an image for his better half's respect, yet Iago plays at supposing it is just a hanky: "being hers, she may, I think, bestow't on any man" (13). He says the word "handkerchief" and Othello cries out.

Iago can see that Othello is at the edge of getting mad, and it is highly unlikely he can judge exactly how far to push him, considering his out of the violent past response. Nonetheless, Iago can't stand to leave Othello in his present state, where he may accomplish something unwarranted. In this way, he continues to disclose to Othello the immediate lie: that Cassio has admitted to an illicit sexual relationship with Desdemona. Iago utilizes again the effective strategy of hesitation, compelling Othello himself to state what Iago would have him think. Iago, the liar, returns to "lie" when telling his misrepresentation so "lie" echoes with multifaceted issues through their discussion.

Iago urges Othello to hide and watch him converse with Cassio. Othello, who had driven armed forces into a fight, is currently decreased to hunching behind something, tuning in to a discussion he can't hear, and envisioning Cassio and his wife chuckling at him. Iago takes a considerable amount of risk with this move, as he has no chance of controlling totally what Cassio may state or the amount Othello grasps from the conversation. He drives Cassio to giggle and joke about Bianca, assuming that Othello's brain will transform what he sees into confirming. At that point, by chance, Bianca gets into the room, carrying the handkerchief. When Othello sees the handkerchief, he forgets about any other considerations. It is time for him to act.

In a statement directed at Iago, Othello is very direct on what he wants. He asks on the best way that he can use to murder Cassio. Concerning his wife, Othello promises to kill her this very night. Othello weeps over Desdemona while at the same time planning her murder. It is an atypical case of the clash between love and bitterness.

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