Act V. Scene I. - Cypress. A Street.
Iago: "This is the night / That either makes me
or fordoes me quite."
Iago and Roderigo wait in a street to ambush Cassio.
Iago tells Roderigo how to kill him. Iago does not care
which ends up dead. Iago is worried about Roderigo's
increasing questioning about what happened to jewels
that were given to him to pass on to Desdemona...
Roderigo attacks Cassio but Cassio injures Roderigo
instead. Iago stabs Cassio, wounding him in the leg.
Othello hearing Cassio's cries is pleased, announcing
that he will soon kill Desdemona.
Lodovico, Gratiano and Iago reappear, Iago claiming
total innocence to Cassio's injuries even though
he inflicted them.
Seizing Roderigo, Iago stabs and wounds him "in
revenge" for wounding his "friend" Cassio.
Gratiano and Lodovico tend to Cassio's wound.
Bianca, Cassio's mistress arrives, Iago cleverly
laying suspicion for Cassio's injuries on his innocent
mistress, making Iago less suspicious...
The final act begins with Iago and Roderigo, waiting
in a street for Cassio. Iago encourages Roderigo to
kill Cassio saying, "Here, stand behind this bulk;
straight will he come: / Wear thy good rapier bare,
and put it home" (stand behind this bulk, Cassio
will come straight towards you. Draw or bear your rapier
and put it home into Cassio), (Line 1).
Iago assures Roderigo that he is behind him one hundred
percent. "Quick, quick;" Iago urges, "fear
nothing; I'll be at thy elbow" or by his side,
he says (Line 3).
Roderigo, still uncertain, asks that Iago be near him,
in case he "may miscarry in 't" or fail his
task (Line 6).
Iago tells Roderigo to "be bold, and take thy
[your] stand" (Line 7).
Iago now explains that he cares little about whether
Roderigo kills Cassio or not saying "whether he
kill Cassio, / Or Cassio him, or each do kill the other,
/ Every way makes my gain:" (Line 12). Iago also
explains that he has a problem in Roderigo since he
may start asking for his jewels back.
Roderigo wants some accounting of the many jewels he
gave to Iago as gifts for Desdemona which never made
it to her since Iago never sent them on.
Iago says that if Cassio survives then he will have
"a daily beauty in his life / That makes me ugly;"
Cassio now approaches and Roderigo immediately lunges
to attack him. This fails, Roderigo being wounded by
Cassio who drew his sword on him (Line 23).
Seeing Cassio survive Roderigo's attack, Iago
surprises Cassio from behind and wounds him in the leg
before exiting once more (Lines 23-27).
"I am maim' d [maimed, wounded] for ever.
Help, ho! murder! murder!" Cassio screams before
falling (Line 27).
Othello at some distance hears Cassio's voice,
remarking that "Iago keeps his word" (Line
28), by which Othello means Iago has kept his promise
to kill Cassio.
Othello now sings Iago's praises, describing him
as brave, honest and just (Line 32).
Othello remarks that he will soon perform his own dark
deed (killing Desdemona) saying, "strumpet, I come!
Forth of my heart those charms, thine eyes, are blotted;
/ Thy [your] bed lust-stain'd shall with lust's
blood be spotted" (Line 36).
Lodovico and Gratiano now enter at some distance, also
hearing Cassio's cries of murder.
Iago joins them carrying a light and asking innocently
whose voice it is that cries murder when Iago knows
all too well that he was the one who wounded Cassio
Iago now tends to the wounded Cassio who does not realize
he was stabbed in the leg by Iago (Lines 54-60). Iago
even criticizes Lodovico and Gratiano for standing around
and not doing anything while his friend Cassio suffers!
Iago asks who did this (we already know!) and learning
from Cassio that Roderigo was "one of them"
(Line 61), Iago immediately calls Roderigo a "murderous
slave!" and a "villain!" before stabbing
him (Line 62).
Roderigo realizing he has been betrayed, screams "O
damn'd Iago! O inhuman dog!" (Line 63).
Having stabbed Roderigo in the dark (Line 62), Iago
hypocritically criticizes Roderigo by saying "Kill
men i' [in] the dark!" suggesting that this
is extremely dishonorable.
Amazingly Iago, hardly a good man, questions Gratiano
and Lodovico whether they are men of good or evil and
learning they are good, immediately binds Cassio's
bleeding leg with his shirt (Lines 64-73).
Bianca (Cassio's mistress) now enters, Iago using her
presence to suggest she may have had something to do
with tonight's violence (Line 74).
First Iago declares his suspicions, saying, "I
do suspect this trash [Bianca] / To be a party in this
injury" (I suspect this trash has something to
do with Cassio's injury), (Line 85).
Next, despite Bianca's obvious grief for her wounded
Cassio, Iago asks Bianca "What malice was between
you?" and his friend Cassio (Line 102).
Iago then says to Bianca "What! look you pale?"
(why do you look so pale?), (Line 104) at which point
Roderigo and Cassio are borne off or carried away.
Finally, Iago tells Emilia who arrives (Line 110) that
Cassio's wound was caused by Bianca, after all
Cassio did just have dinner with Bianca which Bianca
confirms (Line 119).
With Emilia convinced, Iago tells her to tell Othello
what has happened (Line 123).
Left alone again, Iago says this night will either
make his fortunes or break them...
Iago: "This is the night / That either makes me
or fordoes me quite" (Line 129).
Act V. Scene II. - A Bedchamber in the Castle.
Desdemona in bed asleep. A light burning.
Othello: "When I have pluck'd the rose, I
cannot give it vital growth again, / It needs must wither:
I'll smell it on the tree."
Othello enters Desdemona's bedchamber (bedroom)
trying to convince himself that he is killing her for
her own good. He kisses his still asleep wife one last
time. Desdemona awakens, but Othello will still kill
her, telling her to pray so her soul will not die when
Desdemona again asks what wrong she has committed,
Othello telling her that she gave Cassio his handkerchief,
by which he means he thinks she had an affair with him.
Desdemona pleads her innocence, telling Othello to bring
Cassio over to prove she did not give away her handkerchief.
Othello says he confessed and is dead, Desdemona's
fear and surprise prompting Othello to believe she does
care for him. Othello kills Desdemona.
Emilia's banging on the door outside cannot stop
this. Later Emilia is let in, revealing Iago has killed
Roderigo and Desdemona who was thought dead, murmurs
her last breaths but loyally does not say Othello killed
her. Othello tells Emilia he killed her and Emilia despite
Iago's attempts to remove her reveals the truth
about the handkerchief; she found it, and then gave
it to Iago. Iago now in trouble, stabs his wife Emilia
and escapes. Emilia dies, singing the "Willow Song"
whilst criticizing Othello's foolishness.
Lodovico, Montano, Cassio and the now captured prisoner
Iago soon appear, Othello stabbing Iago but not killing
him before having his sword removed. Lodovico is disappointed
that Othello, a man so honorable has reverted to acting
like a slave. Othello tries to argue that killing his
wife was a noble action but it falls on deaf ears. Lodovico
learns that Othello and Iago plotted Cassio's death.
Lodovico reveals letters in the dead Roderigo's
pocket proving Cassio was to be killed by Roderigo.
Iago proudly confirms that Cassio found Desdemona's
handkerchief because Iago placed it to be found. Othello,
realizing what he has done, kills himself with a concealed
weapon and lies himself on top of his wife. Cassio is
placed in charge of Iago and Lodovico leaves to discuss
this sad matter with others abroad...
Desdemona is asleep as Othello enters their bedchamber.
Othello is now completely focused on the task before
him, speaking in long, measured, controlled sentences,
not the short urgent sentences we would expect of an
angry, emotionally crazed and driven man.
Othello by his language is calm and resolved. He speaks
in the future tense, saying "I'll not shed
her blood," suggesting a finality to his actions
but adds that "she must die," or "else
she'll betray more men", perhaps an attempt
to suppress his own guilt for what he is about to do
Othello before kissing Desdemona one last time, explains
that "When I have pluck'd the rose, / I cannot
give it vital growth again, / It needs must wither:"
With her bedchamber candle already extinguished (Line
7), Desdemona wakes up, asking, "Who's there?
Othello?" (Line 22). Learning it is Othello; she
calms and asks Othello "Will you come to bed, my
lord?" (Line 24).
Othello asks Desdemona whether she has prayed (Line
25) tonight, telling her to reconcile any crime she
may have committed (Line 28).
Desdemona now asks what Othello means by that (Line
29) and Othello tells her to do her prayers quickly
since "I would not kill thy [your] unprepared spirit;"
adding that "I would not kill thy [your] soul"
Desdemona now asks Othello whether he is talking of
killing to which Othello replies "Ay, I do"
Desdemona now terrified, cries "Then heaven /
Have mercy on me!" (Line 35).
Desdemona tells Othello that she fears him "When
your eyes roll so" (Line 38) yet she can not understand
why she fears Othello; she has committed no wrong? (Lines
Othello replies "Think on thy [your] sins"
(Line 39). Desdemona explains that "They are loves
I bear to you" (Line 40) and now Othello commands
Desdemona to be still. Desdemona saying, "I will
so. What's the matter?" (Line 47).
Othello tells Desdemona that she has given the handkerchief
he lovingly gave to Desdemona to Cassio. Desdemona says
no, asking Othello to send for Cassio and ask him himself.
Othello now tells Desdemona that "thou'rt
[you are] on thy [your] death-bed" (you are on
your deathbed / tonight you will die), (Line 50).
Desdemona says yes but "not yet to die" (Line
Othello tells her to confess her sins adding "Thou
[you] art [are going] to die" (Line 56).
Desdemona again pleads for mercy, telling Othello she
"never lov'd Cassio" (Line 59) but Othello
is convinced, saying he saw "my handkerchief in's
[in his] hand" repeating again "I saw the
handkerchief" (Line 65).
Desdemona says that Cassio must have found it then,
saying "I never gave it [to] him", again telling
Othello to speak to Cassio to learn this truth (Line
Othello now surprises Desdemona by saying, "He
hath confess'd" (he has confessed), (Line
68). Desdemona asks to what?
Othello now tells her "That he hath us'd
[used] thee [you]" (Line 70).
Desdemona asks how, Othello explaining that Cassio
can no longer speak, Cassio has seen to it (killed him),
Desdemona is surprised, saying "What! is he dead?"
Othello explains that he is and now Desdemona says
something that angers Othello.
Desdemona: "Alas! he is betray'd [betrayed]
and I undone" (Line 76).
Hearing this Othello exclaims, "Out, strumpet!
Weep'st [weep] thou for him to my face? (Out strumpet!
Would you dare weep for him before me?), (Line 77).
Fearing danger, Desdemona pleads " O! banish me,
my lord, but kill me not!" (Line 78).
Infuriated, Othello tells her "Down, strumpet!"
(Line 79), Desdemona pleading that if Othello must kill
her, let it be tomorrow so she may live tonight (Line
80). Othello, however only replies "Being done,
there is no pause" by which he means his actions can
no longer be delayed (Line 82).
Desdemona tries one last time to stall Othello by asking
to say one prayer first, but Othello, saying, "It
is too late" (Line 83) proceeds to smother or suffocate
Emilia now yells to Othello, "My lord, my lord!"
(Line 84) but Othello ignores her, determined to finish
strangling the life from his wife.
Finally, Emilia's shouting receives Othello's
attention, and Othello ponders whether to let Emilia
in; she will certainly want to speak with his wife,
telling her about Cassio's death.
Noticing that his wife is "Still as the grave"
(Line 93), Othello again worries what Emilia will say
to his wife before remembering he has no wife; she is
after all dead he reminds himself in a confused dialogue
that vividly makes clear that Othello is no longer coherent
but rather crazed and disorganized in thought (Lines
With his wife apparently dead, Othello asks Emilia
"What's the matter with thee [you] now?"
(Line 104). Emilia tells Othello that Cassio, her lord
has killed a young Venetian called Roderigo. Learning
that Cassio was not killed, Othello says "murder's
out of tune, / And sweet revenge grows harsh" (Line
Desdemona, whom was thought dead, now murmurs "O!
falsely, falsely murder'd" (murdered), (Line
114). Noticing it is the cry of "my lady's
voice:", Emilia again panics begging her Desdemona to
speak again. This Desdemona does, proclaiming her innocence
by saying "A guiltless death I die" (Line
Emilia asks Desdemona who "hath done this deed?'
(Who killed you) and Desdemona again shows her true
love for Othello by hiding Othello's guilt by saying
"Nobody; I myself; farewell:" asking Emilia
to "Commend [praise] me to my kind lord" before
finally saying "O! farewell!" and dying (Lines
Othello moves quickly to dispel any notion that he
was responsible by asking Emilia who killed Desdemona.
When Emilia answers "Alas! who knows?" (Line
124), Othello quickly replies "You heard her [Desdemona]
say herself it was not I" (Line 125).
When Emilia says that she must now report the truth,
Othello drops his short-lived lie, telling Emilia "She's
[Desdemona] like a liar gone to burning hell; / 'Twas
I that kill'd her" a line suggesting Othello
is proud of the deed of punishing his wife's infidelity
Emilia however knows the truth, saying, "O! the
more angel she, / And you the blacker devil " (Desdemona
was innocent, you are the evil one), (Line 129).
Othello explains to Emilia that Desdemona was unfaithful
to him but Emilia simply criticizes Othello for not
believing in his wife. (Lines 130- 131).
Othello in fact says Desdemona was as " false
as water" (Line 132) and tells Emilia that her
husband knows the truth. Saying that "'twas [it
was] he that told me first:", Othello explains
that according to Iago, Desdemona betrayed him (Line
Emilia at first cannot believe this.
She courageously tells Othello to "Do thy worst
[do your worse]:" before telling Othello that "This
deed of thine [yours] is no more worthy [of] heaven
/ Than thou [you] wast [were] worthy [of] her"
by which Emilia means Othello's murder of Desdemona
was no less worthy of heaven than he was worthy of her
since Emilia knows her friend was innocent and loyal
loving wife (Lines 157-158).
Bravely Emilia continues to stand up for Desdemona
against Othello before finally shouting "The Moor
[Othello] has kill'd [killed] my mistress! Murder!
murder!" (Line 165).
This shouting is effective since Montano, Gratiano,
Iago and others now enter. Emilia insults her husband
for his role in Desdemona's death and slowly the
truth comes out (Lines 166-168).
Iago claims only to have told Othello what his honest
opinion was but Emilia refuses to let her husband get
away with this, forcing Iago to admit that he told Othello
that Cassio was sleeping with his wife (Line 175).
At first this does not worry Iago but Emilia's
growing contempt for Iago starts to scare him, such
that he orders Emilia to leave (Line 192).
Emilia however will not leave without justice. Saying
it is her duty to obey her husband, she adds that this
time she cannot and tells Iago she will never go home
to him again (Lines 193-194).
Othello now falls on the bed crying "O!O!O!"
signifying remorse, guilt and possibly that he might
now realize what he has done (Line 196).
Gratiano only says that he is glad Desdemona's
father Brabantio is dead and cannot see this terrible
sight since it would break his heart to see her now
Othello though makes it clear to us that he still believes
Iago, he will clutch to this truth since to be wrong
would mean he murdered his beautiful, virtuous loving
wife for no reason.
He recounts his major the proof now, the handkerchief
(Lines 208- 214).
Emilia however will not go away despite Iago's
continued urgings. Finally Iago threatens to stab Emilia
if she does not go home.
This however puts Iago into disrepute with Gratiano
who questions Iago threatening his sword against a woman.
Emilia now protected, tells Othello the truth. Calling
him "dull [stupid] Moor!", Emilia explains
that she found Desdemona's handkerchief and gave
it to Iago since Iago had persistently urged Emilia
to steal it for him if she ever had a chance (Lines
Hearing this, a scared Iago calls Emilia a "Villanous
whore!" but Emilia insists that what she says is
Iago now says his wife is lying, keen to protect himself
but Emilia again sticks to her guns and assures all
present that she is not lying. Additionally she finds
time to scold Othello by asking "what should a
fool [Othello] / Do with so good a wife [Desdemona]?",
Othello realizing the truth now, runs for Iago but
Iago stabs Emilia and escapes, exiting our view...
Knowing she is dead, Emilia asks to be laid by her
mistress's (Desdemona) side and Montano, knowing
that Iago is evil, tells Gratiano to kill him if he
has a chance, since he certainly will (Lines 234-240).
Montano and Gratiano now exit and Othello starts to
realize the full weight of what he has done (Lines 241-243).
Emilia remembering Desdemona's willow song, sings
it since she wishes to "die in music:-" and
she starts singing "Willow, willow, willow"
before telling Othello, "Moor [Othello], she was
chaste; she lov'd thee [you], cruel Moor;"
before finally dying (Line 248).
Realizing he has another sword in his chamber, Othello
quickly finds it (Lines 250-253).
Gratiano reappears and Othello explains that his life
no longer has meaning, saying "Here is my journey's
end," (Line 266) a reference meaning he knows his
life is now finished (Lines 258-281).
Lodovico, Montano, Cassio carried in a chair and the
prisoner Iago now appear. Othello seizing his opportunity
wounds Iago but now Lodovico has Othello's sword
removed from him. Iago explains that he bleeds but will
not die (Line 187).
Lodovico now expresses dismay that Othello, a man so
good has now "Fall'n [fallen] in [into] the
practice of a damned slave," (Line 290) and asks
what will be said of Othello now?
Othello replies that if anything it was an honorable
murder if you will, since as he explains, he did none
of it in hate, "but all in honour" (Line 294).
Lodovico, wanting to get to the bottom of all this,
quickly learns from Othello that he and Iago did plot
Cassio's death and though Iago is defiant and proud
of his actions, refusing to say more, Lodovico quickly
reveals letters in the slain Roderigo's pocket
that reveal Cassio was to be killed by Roderigo (Lines
Cassio tells Othello he did nothing to deserve this,
Othello asking for Cassio's pardon or forgiveness.
Cassio explains to Othello that he found his wife's
handkerchief in his bedchamber and that Iago has confessed
that he placed it there for special purpose (to fool
Othello of course), (Lines 316-322).
Othello realizing his stupidity, curses himself saying,
"O fool! fool! fool!" (Line 322).
Quickly, Lodovico places Cassio in charge of Cypress,
telling him he may do with Iago as he sees fit, saying
"For this slave, / If there be any cunning cruelty
/ That can torment him much and hold him long, / It
shall be his" (if there is any torture that will
both torment him greatly but let him live long, it is
his), (Line 332).
Now after making his last wishes clear to Lodovico
(Lines 337-354), Othello stabs himself and falling on
top of his again beloved wife, dies saying "I kiss'd
thee ere I kill'd thee; no way but this,"
falling upon Desdemona and finishing with the words,
"Killing myself to die upon a kiss" (Line
Cassio explains that he thought Othello had no weapons
on him and Lodovico insults the still alive Iago, and
tells Gratiano that he now has Othello's assets
and places Cassio in charge of Iago.
Lodovico ends the play by stressing the enormity of
the task of rebuilding ahead of them, saying, "Myself
will straight aboard [abroad], and to the state / This
heavy act with heavy heart relate" (I will head
off for abroad and will with heavy heart, relate to
the state what has sadly happened here).