Who Dies In Othello

Who dies because of Iago's plot in Othello?

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droxonian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"That death's unnatural that kills for loving," Desdemona says to her husband in Act V, Scene 2 of this play. Desdemona, like the audience, knows that Othello is about to kill her, not because of anything she has done, but because of a misguided belief in her guilt. Desdemona is only one of the victims of Iago's plot to deceive and control his general. By the end of the play, when Othello smothers his wife—"Put out the light, and then put out the light"—almost every person with any attachment or meaning to Iago has been damaged irrevocably by his schemes. His erstwhile friend and conspirator, Roderigo, is dead, slain by Iago's own hand. Meanwhile, Othello has been so thoroughly convinced of his wife's unfaithfulness by of Iago's lies that he kills not only Desdemona but then himself, unable to live with the turmoil in his mind.

There is a scholarly theory that Iago destroys Othello because, paradoxically, he is in love with him. He covets Desdemona's handkerchief, given to her by Othello as a symbol of love, because he perhaps desires to be approved of and loved by his general to the same extent that Desdemona is. If we believe this interpretation, then, Iago loses everything and everyone he loves because of his plotting. He kills his wife, Emilia, because of what she knows; he drives Othello to kill himself and his wife. Whether Iago's true desire is for Othello or Desdemona, he loses both, and he also loses his own freedom.

robertwilliam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is - as usual in Shakespeare's tragedies - a huge body count at the end of Othello. In the scene in the dark, Cassio is wounded in the leg, and Roderigo is killed by Iago in the dark.

In the final scene, Othello (thinking she has cuckolded him with Cassio) murders Desdemona; and, in another husband-murders-wife parallel, when she speaks out about what he has done, Iago murders Emilia. Othello then kills himself. Iago is taken off to be tortured but - as the curtain falls - is still not killed.

santeria | Student


Roderigo was roped along in the plan, Iago used him for his stupidity and affection for Desdemona. Then when he is no longer needed Iago disposed of him. Emilia was stabbed in the back- Iago expected her to be loyal to him rather than Desdemona after his plan is revealed. Desdemona, obviously, was used- her kind nature led to her downfall, even though it was not Iago who directly killed her. Then obviously there's Othello, however we can't entirely blame Iago for his death otherwise he would technically lose his "tragic hero" status.

Brabantio also dies, but this is grief of losing his daughter to Othello. (no idea why I added that, but, there you go)

Cassio is left for dead, whether he dies or not is not essential- technically he is still a victim of Iago.

And the most chilling thing is that Iago is left standing at the end of the play. This is not the case in any other Shakespeare tragedy... it kind of gives the impression that he is the devil and cannot be killed.

Hope this wasn't totally useless...