ACT V – Scene.i
This scene takes place in a street in Cyprus.
Roderigo has succumbed to Iago’s prompting to kill Cassio so
that Othello and Desdemona will stay on in Cyprus and he can continue his suit of Desdemona. Roderigo and Iago are in hiding waiting on the arrival of Cassio. Roderigo charges at Cassio, but
the latter is wearing a coat of mail and he receives only a minor wound. In self-defense Cassio strikes at Roderigo and unseen, Iago wounds Cassio in the leg and retreats.
Cassio cries out for help and when Othello comes on the scene he
ignores the cries and assumes that Iago has done his work. He leaves the scene to search for Desdemona.
The Venetians, Lodovico and Gratiano hear Cassio’s cries, but
are apprehensive because the street is dark.
Iago re-enters pretending he has been roused from his sleep and
Cassio appeals to him for help.
Roderigo is also crying out, and on hearing the voice, Cassio accuses Roderigo of being his attacker. Iago slays Roderigo, appearing to avenge Cassio. Iago cries for assistance for Cassio and he recognizes Lodovico and they aid Cassio and bind his wounds.
Bianca enters the scene, dismayed over Cassio’s attack, but Iago
suggests that she is part of the intrigue against Cassio. As more light is shed on the dark street, Iago pretends that he recognizes Roderigo and feigns distress at this sight.
Iago continues to accuse Bianco of being part of the plot to murder Cassio.
Emilia enters and she joins in with a further accusation against
Bianca. Iago sends her to tell Othello and Desdemona what has happened.
The reader should be reminded that Cassio has no idea regarding
This scene is crucial to Iago’s plot against Othello and on
these events hangs his final vengeance.
For a moment we think Iago is going to be instrumental in Cassio’s death, but he is a coward and can only stab at Cassio’s leg in the dark and then run away from the scene, leaving his pawn to do the necessary deed. However as was shown before, Roderigo is no match for Cassio even in a darkened street and although badly wounded by Cassio, it is Iago that delivers the fatal blow ironically killing the very person who provided the catalyst for his plot.
Although the audience is appalled at Iago’s evil, there is still
suspense felt by the possibility that his plan will fail, for although Roderigo has been silenced, Cassio remains alive to threaten his plans.
Too late, Roderigo realizes his folly when he says to Iago, “O
damn’d Iago! O inhuman dog!” and dies.