Literature Study GuidesOthelloAct 5 Scene 1 Summary

Othello | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Act 5, Scene 1

Professor Bradley Greenburg of Northeastern Illinois University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Act 5, Scene 1 of William Shakespeare's play Othello.

Othello | Act 5, Scene 1 | Summary

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Summary

Meanwhile, in a Cyprus street, Iago gives Roderigo a weapon and tells him to wait for Cassio, then kill him. Iago waits nearby, hidden, as Roderigo attempts this, and fails. Instead, Roderigo is wounded by Cassio. Iago darts into the midst of this action, wounds Cassio, and exits. Othello hears Cassio's cry and believes Iago has carried out Cassio's murder; Othello dashes off to complete his part of the plan. Graziano and Lodovico enter, looking for the source of all the commotion. Iago then enters, pretending he's just arrived for the first time. He fakes concern for Cassio, then deals Roderigo a mortal wound, as if in retaliation for the attack on Cassio. Bianca arrives and is worried about Cassio's wound. Iago tries to blame her for the attack on Cassio. Lodovico, Graziano, and others help bear Cassio away to have his wound treated.

Analysis

This scene takes place at night, which is important because in the dark, Iago can control the assassination attempt without his participation being known. In the confusion, Iago can direct the fight, cleaning up the loose end of Roderigo, who has suddenly become an unnecessary complication.

It's interesting that until this fight, Iago's plans have gone off perfectly. He's controlled every detail. However, Roderigo's incompetence at killing Cassio forces Iago to think quickly of another way to achieve his ends and still keep his true nature concealed. After all, he has a reputation as an honest man, and he doesn't want to lose that. So Iago wounds Cassio then kills Roderigo so he can't give away Iago's role in the plot.

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