Othello

Othello Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
A Christian Moor who has earned a high reputation as a general in the Venetian army and has recently married Desdemona, daughter of the Venetian senator Brabantio. Othello is characterized by his plainspoken, honest (perhaps even naïve) nature, which, together with his status as an outsider, leaves him vulnerable to the plots of his standard-bearer, Iago, to make him suspect his loyal wife, Desdemona, of infidelity.

Othello Quotes in Othello

The Othello quotes below are all either spoken by Othello or refer to Othello. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Prejudice Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Othello published in 2015.
Act 1, scene 2 Quotes
"Damned as thou art, thou hast enchanted her!
For I'll refer me to all things of sense,
If she in chains of magic were not bound,
Whether a maid, so tender, fair, and happy,
So opposite to marriage that she shunned
The wealthy curled darlings of our nation,
Would ever have, t'incur a general mock,
Run from her guardage to the sooty bosom
Of such a thing as thou—to fear, not to delight."
Related Characters: Brabantio (speaker), Othello, Desdemona
Related Symbols: Animals
Page Number: 1.2.82-90
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 1, scene 3 Quotes
"Rude am I in my speech,
And little bless'd with the soft phrase of peace:
For since these arms of mine had seven years' pith,
Till now some nine moons wasted, they have used
Their dearest action in the tented field,
And little of this great world can I speak,
More than pertains to feats of broil and battle,
And therefore little shall I grace my cause
In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,
I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver
Of my whole course of love."
Related Characters: Othello (speaker)
Page Number: 1.3.96-107
Explanation and Analysis:

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"The Moor is of a free and open nature
That thinks men honest that but seem to be so;
And will as tenderly be led by th' nose
As asses are."
Related Characters: Iago (speaker), Othello
Related Symbols: Animals
Page Number: 1.3.442-445
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2, scene 1 Quotes
"If I were now to die,
Twere now to be most happy, for I fear
My soul hath her content so absolute
That not another comfort like to this
Succeeds in unknown fate."
Related Characters: Othello (speaker)
Page Number: 2.1.205-209
Explanation and Analysis:

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"I'll [...] make the Moor thank me, love me, and reward me
For making him egregiously an ass."
Related Characters: Iago (speaker), Othello
Related Symbols: Animals
Page Number: 2.1.330-331
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3, scene 3 Quotes
"Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul
But I do love thee! And when I love thee not,
Chaos is come again."
Related Characters: Othello (speaker), Iago
Page Number: 3.3.100-102
Explanation and Analysis:

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"Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Who steals my purse steals trash; tis something, nothing;
Twas mine, tis his, and has been slave to thousands.
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed"
Related Characters: Iago (speaker), Othello
Page Number: 3.3.182-190
Explanation and Analysis:

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"O, beware, my lord, of jealousy!
It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock
The meat it feeds on."
Related Characters: Iago (speaker), Othello
Page Number: 3.3.195-197
Explanation and Analysis:

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"This honest creature doubtless
Sees and knows more, much more, than he unfolds."
Related Characters: Othello (speaker), Iago
Page Number: 3.3.283-284
Explanation and Analysis:

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"This fellow's of exceeding honesty,
And knows all qualities, with a learned spirit
Of human dealings."
Related Characters: Othello (speaker), Iago
Page Number: 3.3.299-301
Explanation and Analysis:

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"Haply, for I am black
And have not those soft parts of conversation
That chamberers have, or for I am declined
Into the vale of years – yet that's not much –
She's gone."
Related Characters: Othello (speaker), Desdemona
Page Number: 3.3.304-3.3.308
Explanation and Analysis:

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"Be sure of it; give me the ocular proof."
Related Characters: Othello (speaker), Iago
Related Symbols: The Handkerchief
Page Number: 3.3.412
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 4, scene 1 Quotes
"A horned man's a monster and a beast."
Related Characters: Othello (speaker)
Related Symbols: Animals
Page Number: 4.1.77
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 4, scene 2 Quotes
"Upon my knee, what doth your speech import?
I understand a fury in your words
But not the words."
Related Characters: Desdemona (speaker), Othello
Page Number: 4.2.37-39
Explanation and Analysis:

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"O thou weed
Who art so lovely fair, and smell'st so sweet,
That the sense aches at thee, would thou hadst never been born"
Related Characters: Othello (speaker), Desdemona
Page Number: 4.2.77-80
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupi

Act 5, scene 2 Quotes
"Put out the light, and then put out the light.
If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
I can again thy former light restore,
Should I repent me; but once put out thy light,
Thou cuning'st pattern of excelling nature,
I know not where is that Promethean heat
That can thy light relume. When I have plucked thy rose,
I cannot give it vital growth again;
It must needs wither."
Related Characters: Othello (speaker), Desdemona
Page Number: 5.2.7-16
Explanation and Analysis:

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"I told him what I thought, and told no more
Than what he found himself was apt and true."
Related Characters: Iago (speaker), Othello
Page Number: 5.2.212-213
Explanation and Analysis:

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"When you shall these unlucky deeds relate,
Speak of me as I am. Nothing extenuate,
Nor set down aught in malice. Then must you speak
Of one that loved not wisely, but too well;
Of one not easily jealous, but, being wrought,
Perplexed in the extreme; of one whose hand,
Like the base Judean, threw a pearl away
Richer than all his tribe; of one whose subdued eyes
Albeit unused to the melting mood,
Drops tears as fast as the Arabian trees
Their medicinable gum. Set you down this.
And say besides that in Aleppo once,
Where a malignant and a turbaned Turk
Beat a Venetian and traduced the state,
I took by the throat the circumcised dog
And smote him—thus."
Related Characters: Othello (speaker)
Page Number: 5.2.401-417
Explanation and Analysis:

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Othello Character Timeline in Othello

The timeline below shows where the character Othello appears in Othello. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 1
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
...win the hand of Desdemona. Yet he has just learned that Desdemona has eloped with Othello, the Moorish (North African) general under whom Iago serves. (full context)
Jealousy Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Womanhood and Sexuality Theme Icon
Iago assures Roderigo that he hates Othello, and explains that Othello recently passed him over for a promotion to lieutenant despite the... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Iago then adds that while he currently pretends to serve Othello, he is in fact just looking out for his own self-interest: "In following him I... (full context)
Prejudice Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Womanhood and Sexuality Theme Icon
...But then Iago, who doesn't give his name and whom Brabantio doesn't recognize, graphically describes Othello and Desdemona having sex—he says that "an old black ram is tupping your white ewe"... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
...these events. Iago takes the chance to leave in order to keep his plot against Othello secret. (full context)
Prejudice Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
...she had married Roderigo. They set off to raise an armed search party and confront Othello. (full context)
Act 1, scene 2
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
At the inn where Othello is lodging, Iago tells Othello that he wanted to stab Roderigo when he hears the... (full context)
Prejudice Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Womanhood and Sexuality Theme Icon
...they see a group of men approaching. Iago says it must be Brabantio and advises Othello to go inside. Othello refuses, preferring to face them, saying he has dutifully served the... (full context)
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
...turn out to be Cassio and servants of the Duke of Venice, sent to bring Othello to meet with the Duke regarding an urgent military issue in Cyprus (an island protectorate... (full context)
Prejudice Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Womanhood and Sexuality Theme Icon
Iago then mentions to Cassio that Othello has married. But before he can say who Othello has wed, Roderigo along with Brabantio... (full context)
Prejudice Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Othello is unfazed, tells everyone on both sides to put up their arms, and informs Brabantio... (full context)
Act 1, scene 3
Prejudice Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Othello and Brabantio enter along with their men. Brabantio demands that they cease discussing state business... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Othello admits that he married Desdemona. But he denies using any magic to win her love,... (full context)
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Womanhood and Sexuality Theme Icon
...from her own father to Brabantio, so must she shift her obedience from Brabantio to Othello. At this, Brabantio grudgingly gives up his grievance against Othello, and allows the meeting to... (full context)
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Womanhood and Sexuality Theme Icon
As discussion turns back to fighting off the Turks, the Duke says that Othello must go to Cyprus to lead its defense. Though the Duke at first suggests that... (full context)
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Womanhood and Sexuality Theme Icon
Brabantio exits, but not before warning Othello to watch Desdemona—since she disobeyed her father, she might disobey her husband. (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
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Because Othello must leave for Cyprus that night, he decides that Desdemona should follow after him in... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Womanhood and Sexuality Theme Icon
...he says again that he hates the Moor. He notes that there are rumors that Othello has slept with his wife, Emilia, and while he isn't at all sure that the... (full context)
Act 2, scene 1
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
...soon arrives himself, and though glad of the defeat of the Turks, he worries that Othello might himself have been lost at sea. (full context)
Womanhood and Sexuality Theme Icon
...and Roderigo is the next to arrive. As soon as they arrive, Desdemona asks after Othello. When she hears that Cassio and Othello's ships lost contact during the storm she worries—but... (full context)
Prejudice Theme Icon
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Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Womanhood and Sexuality Theme Icon
As they wait for Othello to arrive, Iago and Desdemona banter. Iago portrays all women, whether beautiful, ugly, smart, or... (full context)
Prejudice Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Womanhood and Sexuality Theme Icon
Othello arrives, in triumph. He is overjoyed to see Desdemona, and says that he is so... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Iago tells Roderigo that Desdemona is bound to tire of Othello, and want instead someone younger, more handsome, and better-mannered. He says that it is obvious... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Womanhood and Sexuality Theme Icon
...Desdemona, though mainly he just wants to sleep with her because he wants revenge on Othello for possibly sleeping with Emilia. If he's unable to sleep with Desdemona, though, he reasons,... (full context)
Act 2, scene 2
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A herald reads a proclamation that Othello has called for a night of revelry to celebrate the annihilation of the Turkish fleet... (full context)
Act 2, scene 3
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Othello puts Cassio in charge during the celebration. He instructs Cassio to make sure that the... (full context)
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When Othello and Desdemona are gone, Iago praises Desdemona's beauty while also slyly suggesting that she might... (full context)
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...he has a terrible drinking problem and may not be able to handle the responsibilities Othello has given him. Montano says that they should report this to Othello, but Iago says... (full context)
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Othello enters with his attendants. He immediately puts an end to the fighting, and demands to... (full context)
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...him to cause any harm to Cassio but that he must tell the truth as Othello commands. He explains that as he and Montano were talking, Cassio chased in some unknown... (full context)
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When Iago finishes his story, Othello says that he can tell that, out of love for Cassio, Iago tried to tell... (full context)
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...Cassio says that he can't remember anything distinctly. He adds that he plans to ask Othello to return him to his position. Iago, however, counsels him to approach Desdemona for help.... (full context)
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...to do good. Iago says that as Desdemona tries to help Cassio, Iago will convince Othello that she does so not out of goodness but lust for Cassio. "Out of her... (full context)
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...wife to set up a private meeting between Cassio and Desdemona, then make sure that Othello observes this meeting. (full context)
Act 3, scene 1
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Trying to regain Othello's favor, Cassio hires musicians to play beneath his window. But Othello sends down a clown,... (full context)
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...Iago says that he will send Emila down himself, and will also make sure that Othello does not come near so that they will be free to talk. Cassio thanks him... (full context)
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Emilia enters, and tells Cassio that Othello and Desdemona have been talking about his situation. Desdemona spoke strongly in his favor. Othello... (full context)
Act 3, scene 2
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Othello, Iago, and a gentleman walk together. Othello gives Iago some letters to send to the... (full context)
Act 3, scene 3
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...Emilia enter. Desdemona assures Cassio that she will help him regain his position. Just then, Othello and Iago enter. Cassio feels so ashamed that he feels unable to talk with Othello,... (full context)
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When Othello reaches Desdemona, she asks him to reinstate Cassio. Othello promises to do so soon, but... (full context)
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Othello and Iago are now alone. Iago starts asking vague but leading questions about Cassio, until... (full context)
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Iago again says that his suspicions are likely false. He warns Othello against the dangers of "the green-eyed monster" (3.3.165-7) of jealousy, while at the same time... (full context)
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Iago exits. Othello, alone, now voices worry that perhaps it's unrealistic for him to expect Desdemona to love... (full context)
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Desdemona and Emilia enter to tell Othello it is time for dinner. Desdemona tries to soothe him with her handkerchief, but Othello... (full context)
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Othello enters, frantic and furious, and says to Iago that he would have been happier to... (full context)
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...lay his leg over Iago's thigh, and cursed fate for giving Desdemona to the Moor. Othello is enraged, saying "I'll tear her all to pieces" (3.3.438). (full context)
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But Iago cautions Othello that it was just Cassio's dream and may not signify anything about Desdemona's faithfulness. Then... (full context)
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Othello cries out in aguish, then kneels and vows that he will take revenge on Cassio... (full context)
Act 3, scene 4
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...Desdemona sends the clown to tell Cassio she has made entreaties on his behalf to Othello, and to ask him to come speak with her. (full context)
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Othello enters. He takes Desdemona's hand, and notes that it is moist. When Desdemona tries to... (full context)
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...Desdemona says she doesn't have the handkerchief with her, but that it isn't lost. When Othello demands that she go get it, she tries to change the subject back to Cassio's... (full context)
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...asks about his suit, but Desdemona tells him that he must be patient—for some reason Othello seems not himself and her advocacy of Cassio only made Othello angrier. Iago exits, promising... (full context)
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Desdemona surmises that Othello's bad temper must arise from some affair of state. Emilia wonders again whether it might... (full context)
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...is. Though Bianca wants to stay with Cassio, he says that he has to see Othello and that they'll have to meet later. Bianca grudgingly accepts. (full context)
Act 4, scene 1
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Othello and Iago enter, discussing infidelity. Iago uses the conversation to further enrage Othello, then lets... (full context)
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Cassio enters while Othello is unconscious from his fit. Iago informs Cassio that this is Othello’s second fit in... (full context)
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Othello’s fit ends after Cassio exits. Iago tells Othello that Cassio passed by during Othello’s fit... (full context)
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...of Cassio never fails to make Cassio break out in laughter. This laughter will drive Othello mad. (full context)
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The plan works perfectly: as Cassio laughs and gestures, Othello grows angrier and angrier. Then Bianca herself enters, again accuses Cassio of having another mistress,... (full context)
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Othello comes out of hiding and promises to kill Cassio. But it is less easy for... (full context)
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...enters with Lodovico, an envoy who is carrying orders from the Duke of Venice that Othello is to return to Venice and leave Cassio behind to govern Cyprus. Desdemona mentions to... (full context)
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Lodovico can’t believe that Othello, renowned for his unshakable self-control, would act this way. He asks Iago if Othello has... (full context)
Act 4, scene 2
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Othello questions Emilia, who insists that nothing has happened between Desdemona and Cassio. He orders her... (full context)
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Emilia returns with Desdemona. Othello sends Emilia outside to guard the door. Othello than says he could have handled any... (full context)
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Desdemona asks Emilia to fetch Iago, whom Desdemona then questions about Othello's behavior. Emilia thinks that it must be the doing of some "eternal villain" who is... (full context)
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...following night. He then tells Roderigo about Cassio being promoted by the Duke to take Othello's place as defender of Cyprus. But he adds a lie: that Othello, rather than returning... (full context)
Act 4, scene 3
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After supper, Othello invites Lodovico on a walk. Before leaving, he orders Desdemona to go directly to bed... (full context)
Act 5, scene 1
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...to keep Roderigo's jewels; if Roderigo kills Cassio, then there's no danger that Cassio and Othello will ever figure out his plot. (full context)
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...Iago darts in and stabs Cassio in the leg, then runs away. From a distance, Othello hears Cassio's shouts of pain and believes that Iago has killed Cassio. Moved by Iago's... (full context)
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...again, and then exits, sent by Iago to bring news of what has happened to Othello and Desdemona. (full context)
Act 5, scene 2
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Othello enters Desdemona's quarters, holding a candle. Standing over Desdemona as she sleeps, he admires her... (full context)
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Just then, Desdemona wakes. She calls out to Othello, who answers, and then tells her to pray in preparation for her to death. Terrified,... (full context)
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Emilia calls from the doorway. Othello mistakes her calls as noises made by Desdemona, and smothers Desdemona again. (full context)
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Finally, Othello realizes that it is Emilia who is calling. He draws the curtains back around the... (full context)
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Though Emilia does not appear to suspect him, Othello voluntarily (and almost proudly) admits that he killed her for being unfaithful to him. Emilia... (full context)
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...this information, but recovers herself enough to say that Iago was lying and to condemn Othello's actions. Othello threatens Emilia to keep quiet, but Emilia is unafraid, saying "Though hast not... (full context)
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Montano, Graziano, and Iago enter. Othello admits once more, this time to Graziano, Desdemona's uncle, that he smothered Desdemona. Graziano is... (full context)
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Realizing that Iago lied to him, Othello attacks Iago, but is disarmed by Montano. In the uproar, Iago stabs Emilia and flees.... (full context)
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Othello searches his chamber and finds a sword. Graziano enters to find Othello armed and mourning... (full context)
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Now Lodovico turns to Othello, and tells him that he must give up his command and return with them to... (full context)
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...demands that Iago look upon the destruction he has caused. He notes that Graziano is Othello's heir, and says that Cassio is to carry out the execution of Iago. Then he... (full context)