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'Othello' Act 5, Scene 1 Summary


Act 5, Scene 1

Iago and Roderigo are hiding and waiting for Cassio to pass. Iago is urging Roderigo to unsheathe his sword and use it quickly on Cassio when he comes. In an aside, Roderigo explains that he is not particularly motivated to kill Cassio, although Iago has given him good reasons for doing so. Roderigo does intend to carry out the deed, despite his misgivings.

In a separate aside, Iago explains that whether Roderigo kills Cassio or the other way around, or whether they are both killed, Iago stands to gain… If Roderigo is killed he will not demand back the gold and jewels Iago took from him as ‘gifts’ to be given to Desdemona. However, he realises that if Cassio lives, his cover may be blown and insists that he must die.

Cassio enters and Roderigo attacks him “Villain, thou diest.” Cassio stabs his assailant. Roderigo says; “O, I am slain”. Iago wounds Cassio in the leg from behind and runs off. Cassio cries “I am maimed for ever. Help, ho, murder, murder!”

Othello enters hearing Cassio’s cries; he comments on Iago keeping his word. He says; “O, brave Iago, honest and just, thou hast such noble sense of thy friend’s wrong.” He goes on to say that Iago’s act of revenge has taught him and that he is coming for his wife; “Strumpet I come…Thy bed, lust stained, shall with lust’s blood be spotted.” He exits.

Lodovico and Graziano hear Cassio and Roderigo calling for help but not knowing who is doing the calling, they decide this might be a ploy to ambush them, so they go to get other men to back them up. Roderigo says that he will bleed to death if nobody comes.

Iago enters with a light; he asks Lodovico and Graziano who is calling ‘murder’. Cassio tells the men where he is and again shouts for help. Iago asks Cassio how he is and he tells him that he was ambushed by villains. Iago pretends to be shocked and appalled by what has happened to Cassio. Iago asks Lodovico and Graziano to help, explaining that it is Cassio who has been hurt by villains. Roderigo shouts out and Iago calls him a ‘murderous villain’ and stabs him.

Cassio tells Iago that his leg is badly wounded and Iago gives him his shirt to bind it. Bianca enters concerned for Cassio, Iago says; “O notable strumpet” and asks Cassio whether he knew who his assailant was. Cassio says no and faints just after Graziano tells him that he has been looking for him to speak to him. Iago says that he suspects that Bianca has something to do with Cassio being injured.

Iago asks for the light and shines it on Roderigo; he identifies him as his friend and countryman. Iago gets Cassio a chair to rest on and calls for a surgeon to help him. He then asks Cassio what malice was between him and Roderigo. Cassio responds; “None in the world, not do I know the man”.

As Cassio is carried off, Iago asks Lodovico and Graziano to stay, he asks them to look at Bianca for signs of guilt as Emilia enters asking what has happened. Iago explains that Cassio is badly injured and Roderigo dead. Emilia laments Cassio’s injury and Iago tells her that; “This is the fruits of whoring. Prithee Emilia, Go know of Cassio where he supped tonight”, he then asks Bianca why she is shaking at this suggestion. Bianca tells them that he supped at her house but that she is not shaking. Emilia calls Bianca a ‘strumpet’, Bianca denies being a strumpet and says that she is honest.

Iago tells Bianca that she is coming with him, he commands Emilia to go and tell Othello and his wife what has happened. In an aside, he says that this night could either make him or break him.

Looking for the next scene? Please visit our contents page, where you can find a full list of all scene by scene guides to Shakespeare's Othello. This scene by scene guide is designed to read alongside the play and act as a companion to the original text.

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