In Act 4 Scene 1, the audience sees Othello as an entirely different person. Find out about his new qualities and behavior in the article below. Our writers have also analyzed Othello Act 4 Scene 1, which you can also read here.
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😵 Summary of Othello: Act 4 Scene 1
Othello’s Act 4 Scene 1 opens with Othello and Iago, who keeps lying about Cassio and Desdemona having an affair. The handkerchief is circumstantial evidence used by Iago to prove that Desdemona is unfaithful. With the use of his words, the villain draws images of sexual intercourse. He appeals to Othello’s jealousy and tries to make him lose his mind. After hearing that Cassio has told Iago that he laid with Desdemona, Othello “falls in a trance.”
Cassio enters and sees Othello in a weird state. Iago says that it is the second time in two days that the general has had an epilepsy attack. When Othello comes back to his senses, Iago says that Cassio stopped by. He also informs that Iago arranged to speak with the ex-lieutenant.
Iago tells Othello to hide during the conversation and look at Cassio’s face. He plans to question the man about his relationships with Desdemona and determine how often Cassio has slept with her.
Othello exists, and Iago turns to the audience, telling his real plan. Iago will ask Cassio about Bianca, his lover. Nonetheless, Othello will think about Desdemona.
Further, in Act 4 Scene 1, the audience sees how Iago brilliantly executed his plan. Cassio jokes about Bianca and her love, claiming that he does not want to see her anymore. At that moment, Bianca enters the scene holding the handkerchief. She accuses Cassio of gifting another woman’s token of love. He also insists that if Cassio doesn’t come to her for supper, she will not let him come again.
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Othello sees all of that and recognizes the handkerchief immediately. He confesses that he plans to murder his ex-lieutenant. Othello has difficulty reconciling Desdemona’s beauty, tenderness, education, and love for him with infidelity. Thus, he wants to poison Desdemona. However, Iago suggests it would be better to strangle her in bed. Additionally, the villain swears he will prepare everything for Cassio’s death.
Desdemona and Lodovico enter the scene. Lodovico, who has come from Venice, has some news from the Duke. He asks Othello about Cassio, which makes him very irritated. His state worsens as Desdemona replies about Cassio. The information in the letters upsets Othello as well because he has been requested back to Venice. Cassio should be left as his replacement in Cyprus. Desdemona learns that she will be going back to Venice and shows her happiness about this news. Othello loses his temper and hits her. After that, Desdemona leaves the stage.
Lodovico is terrified by Othello’s behavior and temper. He asks the general to find Desdemona, but Othello accuses Desdemona of being promiscuous when he does find her. When the couple, Lodovico suggests that the general got mad.
🎭 Active Characters
Othello, Iago, Cassio, Bianca, Desdemona, Lodovico
🔥 Active Themes
|Jealousy||Sexism||Appearance vs. Reality|
👺 Analysis of Othello: Act 4 Scene 1
In Act 4 Scene 1, the audience sees that Othello comes closer and closer to the edge as he falls into Iago’s trap. The tension keeps accelerating and moving towards the climax in Act 5. Yet, the audience can still hope for the solution: Iago can get disposed of, or Othello may start thinking as the man he was at the beginning of the play. However, as the scene progresses, there are fewer and fewer hopes for a peaceful resolution.
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The readers see an enormous transformation that happens in Othello. Iago’s plan unveils too, and it drags the protagonist into madness. He starts speaking and acting with less caution. His words become bolder, and he allows himself to talk disparagingly about Desdemona. At the beginning of the play, Iago was able to manipulate Rodrigo. In Act 4 Scene 1, the audience sees that Iago is in complete control of Othello. He knows that Othello has a very active imagination. That is why he constantly appeals to it by including details about nakedness, bed, and sexual intercourse.
With his dual personality, Iago tries to calm Othello down and defend Desdemona, saying that she might have been innocent lying in bed with Cassio. He also says that since Othello gave the handkerchief to his wife, it is up to her to decide who it will belong to. These remarks made the general even angrier as he connected the cloth with the “honor” that Desdemona lost. As a result of Iago’s cunning machinations, he loses his mind. A once eloquent, calm, and full of self-control hero is transformed into someone not able to speak.
Othello’s emotional instability makes him “fall in a trance.” As Cassio enters, Iago says that the general “fell into epilepsy.” Apparently, it is not something new for Cassio, which Iago uses to advance his plan. The villain has decided to participate in furthering the scheme, as he is sure that Othello will believe almost anything at this point without requesting any evidence.
The transformation in Othello reveals another side to his personality: he can be violent in his speech and action. The man we see at the beginning of the play is full of confidence and self-respect. Due to Iago’s scheme, he loses these qualities.
Cassio, in the scene, demonstrates double standards towards women. He mistreats his lover, Bianca, in public and acts differently in private. Most probably, he behaves so because of her social status and the period. Bianca is the only woman in Othello who confronts her lover about the situation she does not like. It can be seen as a modern quality; however, it could be viewed as unrefined in Shakespearean time.
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Another plot advancement in Act 4 Scene 1 is the appearance of Lodovico, an envoy from Venice. His appearance serves as a reminder of Venice, the most civilized and refined place. Shakespeare contrasts Venice and Cyprus and shows how much Othello and Desdemona’s relationships have changed since Act 1.
Thanks for reading! You can find a summary and analysis of the following scene below, as well as other articles on Othello.