© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

Othello Timeline and Summary

  • 1.1 Iago reveals that Othello has secretly married Desdemona.
  • 1.2 Othello faces a showdown with Brabantio, Desdemona's angry father. The tiff is cut short when the Duke orders that Othello get himself over to the Duke's chambers, sooner rather than later.
  • 1.3 Othello explains how Desdemona and he fell in love. Desdemona has his back. The Duke says the marriage seems legit, and sends Othello off to fight an enemy fleet.
  • 2.1 The enemy fleet destroyed, Othello arrives at Cyprus and joyfully greets his wife. It's time for the honeymoon.
  • 2.3 Othello and Desdemona finally get some alone time, but then they're interrupted when Cassio gets into a drunken brawl. Othello, furious, fires him.
  • 3.2 Othello and Iago tour the city.
  • 3.3 Othello comes back to find Cassio slinking away from a conversation with Desdemona. He and his wife play-fight in that annoying newlywed way. But Iago slowly starts messing with Othello's mind and convinces Othello that Desdemona's cheating on him with Cassio. Othello demands proof of Iago's claim, but already believes him, proof or not. He swears to punish his wife and Cassio with death.
  • 3.4 Othello, suspicious, asks Desdemona where the special handkerchief he gave her is. Because Iago has had it stolen, Desdemona can't produce it. She doesn't want to admit this, though, so she and Othello get in a huge fight.
  • 4.1 Iago torments Othello with more graphic images of Desdemona's cheating, so much so that Othello has a brief epileptic fit. Then Iago sets up a conversation with Cassio so that Othello thinks he's hearing them talk about Desdemona when, really, Cassio's talking about a prostitute. After this, when Desdemona comes in with a visitor announcing that Othello is called back to Venice, Othello gets so angry that he hits his wife in front of everyone.
  • 4.2 Othello tries to get Emilia to confess that Desdemona is having an affair. Emilia says it just isn't true. Then Othello confronts Desdemona and calls her a whore. Desdemona denies it, but Othello doesn't believe her.
  • 5.1 Othello oversees what he thinks is Cassio's murder, and is satisfied.
  • 5.2 Othello strangles Desdemona. Emilia comes in and raises the alarm. When Othello tells her why he thinks Desdemona cheated on him, Emilia realizes that this must be a plot by her husband. She tells Othello the truth, and he responds by trying to stab Iago and failing in the process. Iago refuses to tell Othello why he destroyed his life. Othello, heartbroken, stabs himself and dies next to Desdemona.