Iago sets Roderigo to pick a fight with Cassio. He, in the meantime, plies Cassio with alcohol and gets
him thoroughly drunk. When Roderigo sets upon him later, therefore, Cassio loses his temper.
Montano gets involved, tries to separate the two combatants but gets injured in the process. The
commotion disturbs Othello, and he is so angry with Cassio that he demotes him. Thereafter Iago
promises Cassio that he will work to restore him with Othello's favour.
IAGO'S CUNNING PLAN
Iago does not have an overall plan. He improvises as he goes along.
He appears to know that Michael Cassio has a short temper and will react violently if someone insults him.
He therefore sets Roderigo to pick a quarrel which will of course cause a disturbance on the very night
on which Othello is celebrating the festivities of his marriage, and his first night with his wife.
The plan has an advantage in that Cassio does not know Roderigo. Indeed, Roderigo is a stranger to
everyone on Cyprus and will therefore not be recognised or brought to book for his role.
Events work in Iago's favour. Othello has proclaimed an evening of festivities. Cassio, who does not hold
his alcohol very well, has already drunk a cup of wine before he meets Iago. He is easily persuaded to
have another, and then another.
Very soon he is drunk and is accosted by Roderigo in the dark. Roderigo provokes him into a fight. No
one gets hurts in the ensuing brawl except Montano who attempts to separate the two combatants.
The noise, however, disturbs Othello -- which, of course, is the plan. He personally intervenes and then
demands to know of Iago who is responsible for the brawl.
Iago, while supposedly attempting to remain neutral, places the blame firmly on Cassio whom Othello
promptly demotes from his rank as lieutenant, not even bothering to investigate any further.
Iago thereupon initiates the next plan. He persuades Cassio to approach Desdemona to intervene on his
He, in the meantime, will poison Othello's ear but putting him on his guard to watch for an adulterous affair
between Desdemona and Cassio. Othello has merely to watch for Desdemona's extravagant pleading
of Cassio's cause.
All very cunning indeed!
Have you looked at the questions
in the right column?
Read the left column and then answer
the following questions:
Good Michael, look you to the guard to-night:
Let's teach ourselves that honourable stop,
Not to outsport discretion."
- Who is "Good Michael"? (1)
- What two things is "Good Michael" being specifically instructed to do? (4)
"Iago is most honest."
- Comment on the irony of this statement. (4)
"Come, my dear love,
The purchase made, the fruits are to ensue;
That profit's yet to come 'tween me and you."
- What is "the purchase" that has been made? (4)
- In what way will "the fruits ensue"? (4)
- What does Othello mean when he says that the "profit's yet to come 'tween me and
Welcome, Iago; we must to the watch.
Not this hour, lieutenant; 'tis not yet ten o' the clock. Our general cast us thus early for the love of his
Desdemona; who let us not therefore blame: he hath not yet made wanton the night with her; and she
is sport for Jove."
- Cassio reminds Iago that it is time for the watch. What does Iago's response -- "Not this hour,
lieutenant" -- tell us about Cassio? (4)
- Comment on the difference between Cassio's attitude to Desdemona vs Iago's in the conversation
which follows these words. (4)