Othello kills his wife Desdemona when he believes that she was unfaithful to him. Then, when he learns that Desdemona was blamed unfairly, he commits suicide. Iago kills his wife Emilia after she tells everyone that Desdemona was innocent. Finally, Iago also kills Rodrigo after the latter tries to murder Cassio and fails.
Probably the most tragic death is the killing of Desdemona, who became a victim of her jealous husband. Iago develops an elaborate plan to accuse Desdemona of being unfaithful to Othello. He persuades Othello that Desdemona has an affair with Cassio and that he needs to keep an eye on her. Then he asks his wife Emilia to take Desdemona’s handkerchief and drops it at Cassio’s home. Iago knows that the handkerchief is of vital importance for Desdemona. Here is how the woman concerns about the loss of the accessory:
“Sure, there’s some wonder in this handkerchief:
I am most unhappy in the loss of it.”
(Act 3, scene 4)
Upon finding the handkerchief at Cassio, Othello gets blinded with jealousy.
“I will kill thee, And love thee after” – he decides and then stifles her.Desdemona dies innocently at the hands of her beloved husband.
When Emilia learns about the plan to accuse Desdemona and her role in it, she is shocked. She ran into Othello’s bedchamber, trying to Othello from murdering Desdemona, but it was too late. Emilia starts telling everyone the truth about the evil plan of her husband. Unwilling to reveal his intentions, Iago stabs his wife in front of the public. During her last minutes, Emilia manages to murmur the truth about the villainous plan of her husband. Although she unwittingly took part in that malicious plot, Emilia dies trying to uncover the truth.
Learning the truth about his wife becomes a massive blow for Othello. He realizes that he killed an innocent wife, becoming a victim of Iago’s plot. When Iago comes, he takes a sword and tries to kill him but only wounds him. He does not see any reason to live and believes that death is the only thing he deserves. He only asks to remember him as the person who
“Loved not wisely but too well,
Of one not easily jealous, but being wrought
Perplex’d in the extreme; of one whose hand,
Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away
Richer than all his tribe; of one whose subdued eyes,
Albeit unused to the melting mood,
Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees
Their medicinal gum.”
(Act 5, scene 2).
Othello pronounces this dynamic speech and stabs himself. Othello dies and becomes a symbol of the vulnerability of the one who loves the intrigues of others.
Another victim of the play is Roderigo, a rich man desperately loving Desdemona. Being quite foolish, he becomes a person easily manipulated by Iago. In Act V, he agrees to murder Cassio, not knowing that Iago desires to kill both. However, he fails to kill Cassio and gets wounded in response. Seeing that, Iago decides to stab Roderigo as he could later reveal Iago’s secrets. Thus, Roderigo dies at the hands of Iago, who he always listened to and considered his friend.
The last victim is Brabantio, Desdemona’s father, who plays a minor role in Shakespeare’s Othello. He used to entertain Othello in his home before the events occurring in the play. Doing that, he facilitated their love with Desdemona to flourish. When the troubling news comes, it is too hard for him to overcome. Brabantio dies of grief when he learns what happened to his beloved daughter.
The only character who would the ultimate punishment but still does not die is Iago. Being an author of the malicious plot against Othello, he almost got killed by him. However, he survived and only got arrested for further trial. So, he managed to avoid his victims’ fate, but still ruined his life and did not reach his goals.