Othello Act 5 Scene 2: Summary & Analysis

The final scene of Othello is where the climax of the story happens. All the conflicts that have been developed throughout the story come to a resolution. What’s more important, in this episode, the truth reveals itself.In this article, our writers have summarized and analyzed Othello Act 5 Scene 2.

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💀 Summary of Othello: Act 5 Scene 2

Act 5 Scene 2 of Othello opens in Desdemona’s chamber. Othello enters it to kill her and finds his wife in their bed. The room is dark, and Othello carries a candle with him. He stands over her and admires Desdemona’s beauty. Othello changes his mind for a second. However, he comes back to his plan and gives a goodbye kiss to his wife. Othello does not want to scar Desdemona’s body as he wishes to restore her back to perfection via murdering her.

When she wakes up, Desdemona invites Othello to bed. However, he answers with a question, asking whether she prayed tonight. Desdemona quickly realizes what Othello intends to do and asks for mercy. She also wants to know why he plans to kill her. Othello says that it is because of her affair with Cassio. She tries to defend herself and tells Othello to send for Cassio. Othello doesn’t trust her:

“Sweet soul, take heed,
Take heed of perjury; thou art on thy deathbed.”

Othello delivers the news that Iago has taken measures and Cassio is dead. Desdemona starts crying, and it makes her husband even angrier. In his mind, she cries because she grieves Cassio. Desdemona begs not to kill her, but he is not willing to change his mind. Othello smothers her.

Emilia arrives and wants to speak with Othello. He lets her in, and Emilia tells that Cassio killed Roderigo. Yet, Cassio is alive.

Emilia hears Desdemona’s weak voice and rushes to her lady. Desdemona says that she will die guiltless. Emilia tries to understand who killed Desdemona, but she doesn’t tell. She tries to protect Othello by saying that she committed suicide:

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“Nobody; I myself. Farewell
Commend me to my kind lord: O, farewell!”

After these words, Desdemona dies.

Othello tells Emilia about Desdemona not being pure, but she tries to defend Desdemona. While doing so, she learns that Iago is involved. She repeats several times, “My husband!” Emilia does not suspect Othello, and yet, he admits the crime.

Montano, Gratiano, Iago, and others enter the chamber, and Emilia addresses her husband. She finally realizes his plan and accuses him of lying about Cassio and Desdemona. Iago tries to silence his wife. He even threatens her with a sword, but it doesn’t work:

“No, I will speak as liberal as the north:
Let heaven and men and devils, let them all,
All, all, cry shame against me, yet I’ll speak.”

Emilia also reveals the truth about the handkerchief that it was her who gave it to Iago. Othello runs at him with a sword, but Montano disarms him. Iago, at that moment, kills Emilia. She sings a verse from The Willow Song and repeats that Desdemona was faithful:

“Willow, willow, willow,-
Moor, she was chaste; she loved thee, cruel Moor;
So come my soul to bliss, as I speak true;
So speaking as I think, I die, I die.”

From this moment, the truth starts to unveil. Othello finds another sword and stabs Iago. He is wounded, but he is still alive. As Iago’s plan is wholly disclosed, the general falls in despair. Everyone tries to understand Iago’s motifs. However, he remains silent till the end of the tragedy:

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“Demand me nothing: what you know, you know:
From this time forth I never will speak word.”

Othello finds another sword hidden in the chamber and delivers his final soliloquy. Right after, he stabs himself. Othello’s death is as tragic as Desdemona’s: he falls on his wife and dies near her.

🎭 Active Characters

Desdemona, Othello, Emilia, Iago, Montano, Gratiano, Cassio, Lodovico

🔥 Active Themes

Othello themes: jealousy.Othello themes: women and sexism.Othello themes: racism.Othello themes: appearance vs reality.
JealousySexismRacismAppearance vs. Reality

🛌 Analysis of Othello: Act 5 Scene 2

Before Act 5 Scene 2, the scenes were mainly happening in public areas. Now, the action takes place in a more private setting, Desdemona’s chamber. Not only the audience enters the most personal of all possible locations, but also this is the first time the audience sees the couple alone. It resembles a romantic setting: the darkness, the wedding sheets, Desdemona is sleeping. However, if Othello could not control his rage and jealousy in public before, what would restrain him now?

This last scene is essential for the plot structure. The audience can see the deepest of Othello’s thoughts and parallels with the deepest rooms in the castle. The atmosphere is taut and claustrophobic. Desdemona is trapped in the patriarchal society with no way to escape, and Othello is trapped by Iago’s racism and villainy.

As Othello enters the room where Desdemona is sleeping, he starts doubting his plan for a second. What is peculiar is that he doesn’t question the moral aspect of Othello killing Desdemona, but it is her beauty that makes him wonder. He quickly comes back to his senses and reminds himself that her appearance has put him in this situation first place.

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Othello’s soliloquy in Act 5 Scene 2 is very inconsistent. It shows how ruptured his thoughts are at the moment. He cannot fully control his mind. First, he calls Desdemona “a monument.” A second later, he calls her “a flickering flame.” At the very end of the monologue, he compares Desdemona to a rose. Throughout the monologue, the audience cannot help but hope that Othello will change his mind. He does not use any “bad” language as in the previous scenes. He speaks once again like a tragic hero. Othello does not believe he is guilty; he considers his actions to be just. This soliloquy demonstrates how delusional the hero is:

“Be thus when thou art dead, and I will kill thee,
And love thee after.”

The same hope remains during Othello and Desdemona’s conversation. His first question is whether she prayed before going to sleep. He explains that he would not kill her if she did not. Othello, throughout this scene, appears to feel no remorse for the actions he is planning to take. On the contrary, he thinks he is doing Desdemona a favor in a way by killing her. This way, he helps her soul to go to heaven.

Desdemona remains calm for the majority of their conversation. She tries to explain the situation and defend herself. For the Elizabethan audiences, this scene might have been unusual because the reasoning was not the quality associated with women.

As the scene progresses, the conversation between Othello and Desdemona looks more like a trial. The audience already saw such a scene in Act 1, when the Duke questioned Othello. The “prosecution” in Desdemona’s chamber finishes the plot structure.

Another parallel between Act 1 and Othello’s ending is the absence of light in both scenes. The play starts in darkness with the light carried by Iago, the tragic villain, and it ends with Othello holding the candle in Act 5 Scene 2. This structure emphasizes how much the protagonist has changed. He got corrupted by Iago and his evil nature. Thus, Othello is completely overtaken by his emotions. Even the way he kills Desdemona is chosen by Iago in Act 4 Scene 1:

“Do it not with poison, strangle her in her bed, even
the bed she hath contaminated.”

Desdemona realizes that it is a waste of time to reason with Othello, and she simply begs to let her live for thirty more minutes. But, instead, Othello, who has shown concern for her soul, strangles her. Desdemona’s death is tragic because of her innocence. She dies at the hands of her husband, whom she loves dearly. Shakespeare shows that innocent people cannot survive in the wicked world.

Some critics find it difficult to reconcile with the fact that Desdemona took the blame for her death. Nonetheless, she demonstrates a Christian type of love and devotion. Another detail worth noticing is the number of times Desdemona died in the scene. Othello smothers Desdemona twice, yet she comes back to life long enough just to take the blame for his actions.

Emilia’s character opens up in this scene, too, as more solid and independent. She praises Desdemona and tries to understand Othello’s intentions. Now, he is the one who tries to defend himself. He explains that he acted this way because of Iago. Emilia is terrified of this news as she puts two and two together.

When Montano, Iago, and Gratiano enter, Emilia puts Iago on the spot. He tries to silence his wife. However, soon after, his entire plan becomes apparent. The only proof of Desdemona’s infidelity unravels the truth. Emilia says that she took the handkerchief and gave it to Iago. Othello rushes at Iago, but Montato disarms him. Iago kills Emilia, and as she dies, she asks to be buried near Desdemona. She also sings a verse from The Willow Song:

“What did thy song bode, lady?
Hark, canst thou hear me? I will play the swan.
And die in music.”

This song and death tie two women together. Both women died at the hands of their husbands.

Othello and Cassio make up, and the general asks Iago to explain his treacherous actions. Throughout Othello Act 5 Scene 2, the protagonist is exceptionally eloquent. As if Othello from Act 1 is coming back to life. He is no longer an inarticulate and beastlike character as he once has been. It is Iago who convinces Othello to comply with the racist stereotypes of society. In a way, he is forced to behave the way society expects him to – like a beast. Once Othello learns the truth, his senses come back to him.

Iago refuses to explain his motif in the end. For Iago, words symbolize the power of manipulation. After the truth becomes evident, he decides to confuse everyone with his silence. No one needs any answers from Iago anyway because the men find a letter in Rodrigo’s pocket.

Othello comes back to his senses and assumes responsibility for his actions. He behaves nobly. Othello’s final soliloquy delivers his desire to be remembered like the man he was before the events of the play. His speech ends with his death. The final scene is full of corpses.

That’s it! Thanks for reading our ending summary and analysis. To find out more information about Othello, click on the links below.

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