ACT II – Scene.iii
There is much feasting and merry-making in the hall of the
castle, and Othello praises Cassio and reminds him that they must not allow the celebrations to distract them from their duties.
Cassio confirms that he will inspect the guard as well, even though Iago is also on duty.
Othello and Desdemona leave.
Iago enters and Cassio reminds him that they must look to the watch. Iago protests saying that they still have one hour’s merriment left and he invites Cassio to join him in a further drink, but Cassio thinks that he has had sufficient already. Iago persuades Cassio to relent and whilst he is obtaining further wine, Iago plots further through a soliloquy. Iago plans to discredit Cassio by persuading Roderigo to have a fight with him.
Cassio returns with Montano and Iago plays the part of a
carousing friendly chap, singing and encouraging Cassio to do the same.
Montano can clearly see that Cassio has had too much to drink, but this is part of Iago’s plan. When Cassio leaves, Iago tells Montano that Cassio is a great friend of his, but regrets that he has a weakness for alcohol and hopes that his master Othello will not put too much trust in him. Montano shows concern about this situation and intends to advise Othello. This is turning out better than Iago had planned.
Cassio and Roderigo enter and they are fighting, and Montano
tries to intervene.
In doing so, Cassio diverts his attack towards Montano. Iago begs Cassio to stop fighting and their noise rouses Othello who threatens the brawlers with death. Othello asks Cassio for an explanation, but he is embarrassed and begs Othello’s pardon. During the fight, Montano has been wounded and he is appalled that he has become an innocent victim of this drunken brawl.
Othello is determined to get to the bottom of the dispute and
asks Iago to speak out.
Iago refuses, making a show of protecting Cassio, and Montano also pleads with Iago to tell the story, and Iago relents showing Cassio in the worst possible light. Othello is completed duped by Iago’s story and dismisses Cassio from his rank as lieutenant.
Desdemona also enters, having been roused by the noise, and this
further infuriates Othello. The couple leaves, assisting the wounded Montano, leaving Iago alone with Cassio.
Iago secretly gloats over Cassio’s loss of position and
sarcastically says to him, “What, are you hurt, lieutenant?” Although he too has been wounded, Cassio is more concerned at his loss of position and his misfortune soon sobers him.
Iago consoles Cassio by saying that Othello’s decision can be altered. He just needs to be patient. During the conversation, Iago cunningly distances himself from Roderigo asking Cassio whom it was he was fighting with. Iago goes on to make light of the affair by saying that everyone gets drunk once in a while. He then suggests that Cassio should try and obtain Desdemona’s help in reinstating his position, as she has great influence over Othello. Cassio agrees with this advice. Iago is left alone and he relishes in the success of his plans.
Roderigo then enters depressed that events are not turning out
well for him. He has little money left and Cassio gave him a sound beating. He is considering returning to Venice.
Again Iago persuades Roderigo that things are looking better for
him because Cassio has been dismissed.
He orders Roderigo to go to his lodging. The next day Iago must ensure that his wife Emilia persuades Desdemona to speak to Cassio, and when this meeting takes place Othello must witness it.
Iago’s intricate plan is in motion. He successfully
discredits Cassio and this leads to his dismissal. This done, Iago takes on the position as mentor to Cassio advising him that the way to gain flavour with Othello once more, will be through the
influence of Desdemona. We again see Iago’s skill playing the actor and convincing Cassio that he is a true friend. The key to this part of the plot, however, is to have Othello witness the
meeting between Cassio and Desdemona.
The reader feels some sympathy towards Roderigo.
His importance in Iago’s scheme is crucial, but he is a pawn and is only used to develop the plot. We sense his frustration because he has not personally gained from being Iago’s tool, and does not share the delight in seeing Cassio dismissed. Although still under Iago’s control, there are signs that the bond between the two is weakening.
We also see the first chink in Othello’s armor. Up until
now he has been calm and confident, but there is a hint of a more angered person when he is roused by the drunken brawl and then he is near to losing his temper when his love is also disturbed:
“Now, by heaven,
my blood begins my safer guides to rule;
and passion, having my best judgment collied”
Translated, this means that he is in a situation where his heart
is ruling his head and he feels that this influences his judgment.
It appears to Montano and Othello that Iago has been forced by
them to betray his so-called friend Cassio.
When he eventually tells the story concerning Cassio’s quarrel, this makes it all the more plausible and inevitably Othello has no choice but to dismiss Cassio.
Whilst the other characters in the play seek delight in their
merriment, Iago gets his pleasure in advancing his wicked plans. His mind remains icy cold demonstrated by his soliloquy, which tells us about his plan to get Cassio drunk,
“If I can fasten but one cup upon him,
with that which he hath drunk tonight already,
he’ll be as full of quarrel and offence
as my young mistress’s dog. Now, my sick fool, Roderigo,
whom love has turn’d almost the wrong side out”
The above lines show how Iago has prepared the ingredients for
the fight between Cassio and Roderigo. Drink will make Cassio ready for a fight, and the lovesick Roderigo still has hope of winning Desdemona fuelled by the comments Iago has made to him.
Towards the end of this scene, Iago has a further soliloquy.
Again this provides the audience with a view into his evil mind. His aim is to have Desdemona plead on behalf of Cassio to Othello and Iago says,
“And she for him pleads strongly to the Moor,
I’ll pour this pestilence into his ear,
that she repeals him for her body’s lust;
and, by how much she strives to do him good,
she shall undo her credit with the Moor.
So will I turn her virtue into pitch,
and out of her own goodness make the net
that shall enmesh them all.”