What's a summary of Shakespeare's Othello?

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hellomissmaria eNotes educator| Certified Educator

William Shakespeare's Othello is another complex tragedy that explores themes of betrayal, prejudice, and appearance versus reality. I'll provide a brief summary, but I'll also include additional links that detail the play to a greater extent.

Othello the Moor is the protagonist of the play and, being a Moor, is the victim of considerable prejudice and evil schemes. Othello's ensign, Iago, begins to plot against him by sending his messenger, Roderigo, to tell the Senator Brabantio that Othello has seduced Brabantio's daughter, Desdemona. Despite Iago's attempts to frame him, Othello manages to convince the Senate that his and Desdemona's love is true. Succeeding in convincing the Senate, he and his new wife are then sent to Cyprus for a military command. 

Unsatisfied with the outcome, Iago persists to torment Othello by planting Desdemona's handkerchief on Cassio (Othello's loyal captain) and telling Othello that Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair.

Driven by his obsession with Desdemona and trusting that Iago will help him obtain her, Roderigo is convinced by Iago to attempt to kill Cassio. However, Roderigo fails this and only manages to wound Cassio, causing an enraged Iago to secretly murder him.

Othello, unaware of the schemes to destroy him, becomes consumed with jealously over rumors of Desdemona's infidelity, and despite Desdemona's pleas to the contrary, suffocates her to death.

Emilia (Iago's wife) learns of the plot and confesses the truth to Othello, who kills himself after learning his tragic mistake. 

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Othello

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