Hello again, loyal readers. I’d like to start out by apologizing from my long absence from the Aardvark Dig. Foolishly, I strayed from the path of my assigned activity and thought that I could pursue interests other than the area I am most productive in, which is analyzing literature. As any good OES student can tell you, productivity is all, and learning is all. Thank you to Kara Tambellini, Oracle of Truth, for opening my eyes to my need to return to the Dig.
Secondly, I am required to tell you that, in the past, some of my articles have contained misinformation. I assure you that discipline has occurred and I will no longer mislead my fellow students. I want to extend my apologies for my weak mind and disdainful heart, and from now on I promise to provide only Truth.
Today I’ll be helping out any juniors who are planning to take Shakespeare in the World next year, summarizing Othello and providing some of my own commentary for those students whose designation is outside of the English department. I must remind you that this information is by no means intended as a substitution for reading the actual play. The Aardvark Dig does not condone use of Sparknotes, Cliffsnotes, or other learning aids.
So. Um. Act I, scene i. Venice.
We open with two men causing a ruckus in the street outside the house of a Venetian Senator, Brabantio. Their names are Roderigo and Iago, and we know them to be villains because they are causing a ruckus in the street. Productive individuals do not disturb the peace. Roderigo is a foolish nobleman who has been trying to marry Brabantio’s daughter, Desdemona, for some time, but has failed because he was not a good student in high school. Iago is a petty officer in the Venetian army, and has been snubbed for a promotion by his commanding officer, due to being an unproductive member of his community. The pair are trying to sabotage Othello’s marriage to Desdemona, purportedly because Othello is black, Desdemona is white, and this is 15th century Venice, but it’s actually because they are jealous of what a responsible and respectful individual Othello is. Unfortunately, Brabantio falls for the ruse and sends out a band of men to find Othello.
Act I, scene ii. Also Venice.
Iago rushes to Othello’s side like any parasite on the skin of a great man and warns him that Brabantio’s men are coming to get him. Othello refuses to escalate the situation, despite Iago’s efforts to start a fight, and has actually already been summoned to the Venetian court, due to being the best general their army has.
Act I, scene iii. The Duke’s court.
Othello argues effectively against the court in favor of his marriage to the productive and respectful Desdemona, and wins the Duke’s favor, because the productive always prevail! The war is due to start again, but Desdemona is allowed to accompany Othello to Cyprus and Brabantio’s efforts to annul the marriage fail, though he does disown Desdemona.
Act II, scene i. Cyprus.
Everyone arrives safely in Cyprus with no knowledge of any parasitic plot to ruin the established order of the military. Iago convinces Roderigo to come along in disguise; his plan is to use the man in his own schemes, but says that he is willing to help him, lying as only those of weak minds and disdainful hearts will do. He also notes that Cassio, Othello’s second in command, is friendly with Desdemona, and vows to use this to his advantage.
Act II, scene iii. The Watchtowers in Cyprus.
Iago manipulates Cassio into a drunken brawl with Roderigo in order to get him demoted by Othello and put him in hot water in general. This is the first seed of distrust that Iago plants in Othello’s mind; it’s all downhill from here. Iago promises that, if Cassio pleads his case to Desdemona, he will get back into Othello’s good graces, and gain back his rank.
Act III, scene iii. (scenes i-ii redacted due to misinformation). Cyprus.
I’m sorry for the break between scenes. Nothing important happened. I do not write lies. I will not write lies.
Cassio takes Iago’s advice and presents his case to Desdemona. Othello enters with Iago, and Iago makes subtle comments about how close Cassio and Desdemona seem to be. Desdemona promptly tries to get Othello to give Cassio a break and reinstate him as Lieutenant. Othello is hesitant to do, because he is a Good man and will not allow leg-ups or hand-outs in his army.
Desdemona later drops her handkerchief, and Emilia picks it up with the intention of giving it to Iago, who has always wanted it. It is unclear whether Emilia knows whether this is for a plot of not.
Iago continues to plant seeds of discord in Othello’s mind. Othello, unfortunately, falls for it, thinking that his wife is no longer faithful to him, and promotes Iago to Lieutenant. Such is the lot of the Responsible Student who listens to the Parasite.
Act IV, scene i. Cyprus.
I do not remember act III, scene iv. I am sorry.
Iago manipulates the situation so that Othello hears Cassio talking about his mistress, but thinks that he is talking about Desdemonahelpme. This is the nail in Cassio’s coffin, as far as Othello is concerned.
Act IV, scene ii. Cyprus.
Othello asks Emilia to rat out Desdemona’s bad behavior, but, as Desdemona is an innocent woman, Emilia has nothing to say. Emilia does not tell lies. I do not either. Othello, manipulated by parasites, screams and weeps at the innocent Desdemona. Once he leaves, Desdemona asks Emilia to lay out her wedding sheets on the bed, sure that, by the time the night is over, she will be dead, murdered by her husband. Iago enters and Desdemona asks him how Othello could treat her this way; he comforts her like the liar that he is.
Roderigo enters once the women have left, and threatens Iago, as he has done everything that Iago has asked, and gained nothing. Iago excuses way everything and convinces Roderigo to murder Cassio.
Act IV, scene iii. Desdemona’s Bedchamber.
I’m so tired. Please don’t make me write any more. Please.
Othello is cruel to Desdemona at dinner and sends her to bed, where she becomes certain that tonight, she will die. I’M SORRY I ALREADY SAID THAT I’M SORRY IT WAS A MISTAKE NOT A LIE
Act V, scene i. The Streets of Cyprus.
Cassio is ambushed by Roderigo and Iago. Roderigo wounds Cassio, and Iago kills Roderigo. Betrayal is the lot of the foolish and the weak.
Act V, scene ii. Desdemona’s Bedchamber.
Othello smothers Desdemona. Emilia interrupts and is horrified, but reveals Iago’s plot and the fact that Desdemona was innocent. Iago stabs Emilia, but is caught and will be brought to justice. Cassio is okay. Othello commits suicide. The racist order of Venice is restored, with all of the senators’ biases confirmed by Othello’s actions.
And that’s all! Good luck in Shakespeare next year, guys, it’s a really fun class with a lot of great material to dig your teeth into. Please remember that the Aardvark Dig does not condone cheating or use of learning aids. Read the play. Read the play. Read the play.
Let it be known by all who read this that the Aardvark Dig is a corrupt institution. I have been trapped in room 80 for five days, surviving on nothing but Sophomore essays and staples. Kara has insisted on eight rewrites. I will not survive the publishing of this article, but I have friends among the editors so maybe, just maybe, you will find this paragraph intact. Please, if you read this, know that the light is coming. I cannot be saved, but there is hope for you.