Act III, Scene III-Detailed Summary of Othello: "Othello" by William Shakespeare

Othello Summary Act 3 Scene III

Cassio is requesting Desdemona for the restoration of his position. Emilia is also present there. Desdemona assures him that soon he will regain his seat. But he fear that after sometime, his master will forget his services and he may not be appointed as lieutenant to the general again.

Cassio leaves when he hears that Othello is coming. Othello spots him going. Desdemona tells Othello that Cassio came for request of restoration. She prays him for getting Cassio back but Othello says that it was not possible at that time.

However, Othello agrees to restore him the day Desdemona wants. But the germs of jealousy have entered into his mind and body. He is jealous and unhappy inwardly. This is the most apt time for Iago to play his part. Othello says that he senses:

"As if there were some monster in his thought
Too hideous to be shown. Thou dost mean something"

But Iago defends the honesty of Cassio to make his case for later use. When Othello remains persistent for the opinion of Iago, he adds fuel to the fire of Othello's jealousy by indirectly referring to the evil intents of Cassio.

Othello resolves not to doubt his wife because of his own inner complexes:

"Nor from mine own weak merits will I draw
The smallest fear or doubt of her revolt;
For she had eyes, and chose me."

He also claims that he will not doubt his wife unless he has seen it:

"No, Iago;
I'll see before I doubt; when I doubt, prove;
And on the proof, there is no more but this".

Iago claims that he will show Othello his wife in friendly terms with Cassio. He also says that she deceived her father for him so she may do anything. He says that he is in deep love of Othello and is forced to say such things to keep him safe from any harm. Iago also says that Desdemona may soon get interested in somebody of her own clime and complexion. Othello parts Iago asking him to keep a watch on Emilia.

After Iago leaves, Othello is almost repenting his decision of marrying Desdemona. He believes Iago knows much more than he is telling him. Iago returns and advises Othello not to restore Cassio awhile so that it may be seen if Desdemona get impatient over his restoration.

Othello feels dejected and in his own imagination he is quite convinced of the treachery of his faithful wife:

"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. I am abused; and my relief
Must be to loathe her".

At this moment enter Desdemona with Emilia. She reminds Othello of the dinner he has arranged for the Cyprus folks. She finds him unwell. Othello lies that he has headache. She ties her napkin around his head but it drops. Both of them leave ignoring the handkerchief. Emilia picks up the handkerchief which her husband has asked her to steal.

"I am glad I have found this napkin:
This was her first remembrance from the Moor:
My wayward husband hath a hundred times
Woo'd me to steal it; but she so loves the token"

She gives it to her husband, Iago. This is the same handkerchief which Othello gifted to Desdemona. Iago plans to leave that napkin in the lodgings of Cassio to be found by Othello later. Othello enters in the same desperate mood and lost manners. He is still ruing the fact of having married a fair lady. Othello is in bad moods. He asks Iago to prove that his wife, Desdemona, is as bad as he blamed her.

Iago plays the trick and makes him emotional by saying “to be direct and honest is not safe.” Othello tells him that he is in a fix as to the true nature of his wife. Othello wants to ascertain if she is honest or a whore.

Iago, finding the most suitable occasion, tells a fake incident. He relates once while he was sleeping in the lodgings of Iago when he heard him muttering the name of Desdemona in lovable manner and wild passions. Then Cassio, in his dream, kissed and did weird things.

Very craftily, Iago asks Othello:

"Have you not sometimes seen a handkerchief
Spotted with strawberries in your wife's hand?"

And Othello replies that it was his first gift. Iago tells a lie that he has seen such a handkerchief in the hand of Cassio this day. Othello rises in rage vowing to kill Cassio. All his love has vanished. He leaves with the intent to kill both Desdemona and Cassio.