In Shakespeare's play Othello how does Othello's mistaken belief that Cassio is slain affect the outcome of the play?

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sensei918 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As the tragedy of Othello moves to its sad conclusion, the audience still has some hope that Desdemona might be spared from the death Othello has planned for her. He comes into their room and gives her a chance to pray before he murders her. He is conflicted and confused by Iago's evil accusations, and he thinks that Iago has already seen to it that Cassio has met the same fate that Desdemona is about to meet, as well. It seems as if nothing could really affect his decision once he has begun to act on it. It is possible that if Othello had known that Cassio still lived, he might at that point have stayed his hand, knowing that he could possibly work things out. Desdemona swears that she has not been unfaithful. If Othello had known that he still had a chance to find out what really happened, perhaps Desdemona would have been given a chance to prove herself. However, Othello was, by this time, mad with jealousy, confused and conflicted about Iago's story, and completely under Iago's control. Time had run out for Desdemona, and knowing that Cassio was alive might not have changed anything.