Othello: Act 3, Scene 1 & 2 – Summary & Analysis

Othello: Act 3, Scene 1 & 2 – Summary & Analysis

Act 3, Scene 1

Cassio sends musicians to play under Othello’s window to curry favor with him. In response, Othello sends a clown to dismiss the musicians, and Cassio asks him to summon Emilia, so he can ask her to have Desdemona meet with him. Iago appears and assures him he will send Emilia, and will also think of a way to remove Othello so Cassio can speak to Desdemona without interruption. Emilia then appears and reveals Desdemona has already attempted to convince Othello to reverse his decision, however Othello will not do so (despite his affection for Cassio) due to the influence Montano (who Cassio stabbed) has in Cyprus. Neverthless, she brings Cassio inside and has him wait for Desdemona.


Comic relief: The presence of the clown who frustrates Cassio with ambiguous word-play before Iago enters is designed primarily as comic relief for the audience from the bleak and tragic world of the play, in which all characters are currently directed towards their fall by a dominant Iago who appears certain to achieve success. It can also be taken that the clown is representative of the world of the play, in which accurate communication is impossible, due to the flaws of various characters.

Cassio: It may not be coincidental that Iago appears after the clown; indeed the clown’s receiving of money links to Iago’s theft of Roderigo’s wealth, which either suggests that Cassio is foolish to give the clown money. This may be present so as to provide Cassio with a flaw (inebriation may not be taken as such) which we can identify as the cause of his downfall.

Iago: Iago’s use of his wife to manipulate surroundings is simply indicative of his willingness to do anyting to ensure the success of his plan, as well as showing how his web covers all avenues of life; he is now manipulating and using  individuals from his private surroundings also, whereas previously it was only public (this symbolizes how his evil ways are inherent).

Act 3, Scene 2

Othello, Iago and some men walk, during which time Othello gives Iago letters to deliver and then decides to inspect the fortification of the town.

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About the Author

John Ryan

John has a Masters in Modern English Literature and is the founder of RyJoLC, an educational consultancy based in Dublin that provides English language and curriculum resources to educational institutions worldwide.
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