Othello Summary Act 1

Othello Summary Act 1: Detailed Summary of Act One of the play Othello written by William Shakespeare. This play Act contains three scenes.

Othello Summary Act 1 Scene 1:

The play opens with the discussion between Iago and Roderigo. Roderigo is reminding Iago “Thou told’st me thou didst hold him(Othello) in thy hate” while he replies “Despise me, if I do not”. Iago also tells him that Cassio has been appointed as lieutenant to Othello which stirs Iago’s hatred for Othello. Iago wanted that position. He considers Cassio no more than

“a Florentine,
A fellow almost damn’d in a fair wife;
That never set a squadron in the field”.

Roderigo wishes to be Othello’s hangman. Iago asks Roderigo :

“be judge yourself,
Whether I in any just term am affined
To love the Moor.”

Iago further reveals his intentions “I follow him to serve my turn upon him”. Iago also tells him that he is hiding his true thinking but once his mission is accomplished, he will reveal his inner thoughts:

“But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.”

Othello and Desdemona have married secretly. Iago knows this. He advises Roderigo to wake up the father of Desdemona and plague his happy state. He also advises him to make the story scandalous.

Roderigo wakes and tells the tale of marriage to Desdemona’s father, Brabantio. At first Brabantio does not believe him but later finds out the truth. Iago slips away saying that though he hates Othello yet he cannot afford to reveal it at this stage.

Brabantio is very grieved and angry at the deed of his daughter:

“treason of the blood!
Fathers, from hence trust not your daughters’ minds
By what you see them act.”

He calls up his men and sets in search of Othello. Roderigo offers to lead the search team and Brabantio agrees. He gets armed men along.

Othello Summary Act 1 Scene 2:

Here Iago, after provoking Brabantio, has joined Othello. He is now provoking him against Brabantio:

“Though in the trade of war I have slain men,

Yet do I hold it very stuff o’ the conscience
To do no contrived murder”.

Othello says it is better that Iago did not fight. But Iago tries to add fuel. He says that Brabantio is very influential and may get Othello some harm. But Othello asks him to ignore and says:

“Let him do his spite:
My services which I have done the signiory
Shall out-tongue his complaints”.

They see light and Iago asks Othello to hide. But Othello does not listen to him:

“Not I I must be found:
My parts, my title and my perfect soul
Shall manifest me rightly”.

Cassio and other soldiers appear on the scene. They tell Othello that the Duke has called for him on some important matter relating to Cyprus. Othello thanks that he is found by Cassio. When they are moving to the house of the Duke, Brabantio and his men appear.

Brabantio accuses Othello of using charms and magic on his fair daughter. Othello says he can satisfy his questions but the senator wants him arrested. The officers inform him that Othello is asked for by the Duke for some pressing state affair. Then all of them move to the house of the Duke.

Othello Summary Act 1 Scene 3:

There is the Duke of Venice sitting with several of his officers. They are discussing that Turks are advancing their troops towards Cyprus. Then a messenger arrives and confirms the already discussed news of Turk forces moving towards Cyprus.

The Duke, on seeing Othello, commands him to get ready for Cyprus but Brabantio intervenes and tells of his tale. He again accuses Othello of using magic on his daughter:

“She is abused, stol’n from me, and corrupted
By spells and medicines bought of mountebanks;”.

Othello admits:

“That I have ta’en away this old man’s daughter,
It is most true; true, I have married her”

It is ultimately agreed that Desdemona be sought and asked to reveal the truth in this regard. Hence, men are sent for bringing Desdemona to the council chamber of the Duke of Venice.

When the troops are gone to fetch Desdemona, Othello begins to relate the tale of his love. He tells that Brabantio used to invite Othello to his house. Othello used to relate his tales of bravery and suffering. Desdemona got interested in Othello gradually inspired by the awe of his life’s struggle and pains. Othello says:

“She loved me for the dangers I had pass’d,
And I loved her that she did pity them. This only is the witchcraft I have used”

Desdemona enters the scene. She defends her husband, Othello. The senator is very grieved at this and prays in thank that he had no other child. The Duke of Venice consoles him with some wise saws:

“The robb’d that smiles steals something from the thief;
He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.”

The Duke informs Othello of the Turk attack on Cyprus and asks him to move to Cyprus. Desdemona says that she wants to go with her husband to Cyprus. We find sheer love in her heart for the Moor:

“That I did love the Moor to live with him,
My downright violence and storm of fortunes
May trumpet to the world: my heart’s subdued
Even to the very quality of my lord”

But Othello thinks she needs to stay home. However, he agrees to take her along. Since, Othello is to go instantly, therefore, he entrusts his wife to the mischievous Iago and his wife Emilia. They sail in another ship on the next they to reach Cyprus and meet Othello.

When all are gone, Roderigo and Iago are seen conversing while the former is talking of suicide. But Iago takes him to task for such negative thinking. Iago retells him that he needs to use as much money as he can in pursuing his enemy, Othello. He also says that soon there will be distance between Desdemona and Othello. The fair lady may not adjust to the brute nature and physical appearance of Othello. Iago, once more, retells:

“I
hate the Moor: my cause is hearted; thine hath no
less reason. Let us be conjunctive in our revenge
against him”

“I hate the Moor:
And it is thought abroad, that ‘twixt my sheets
He has done my office: I know not if’t be true;
But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,
Will do as if for surety.”

Iago plans of ousting Cassio from the trustworthy position he holds for Othello.

Othello Short Summary, Othello Summary Act 2

Read More to the Othello Summary Act 1

  1. Othello Study Notes
  2. Othello As a Tragedy
  3. Downfall of Othello
  4. Where Should Othello Go?
  5. Othello Short Summary
  6. Othello Character
  7. Character of Iago
  8. Character of Emilia
  9. Character of Desdemona

Further References to Othello Summary Act 1

  1. The Tragedy of Othello, Moor of Venice (1604)
  2. Text / Script of Othello a play by William Shakespeare
  3. Biography of William Shakespeare