Act III Scene 1 Comic relief: a clown is mincing words with a few musicians, then has a little wordplay with Cassio Iago enters, and Cassio tells him that he means to speak to Desdemona, so that she may clear things up with Othello. Emilia comes out, and bids Cassio to come in and speak with Desdemona about his tarnished reputation.
Analysis: Othello’s Uniqueness Othello is unlike other Shakespearean dramas for two reasons: the scarcity of comic relief, which only appears briefly at the beginning of this short scene. there are no subplots running through Othello as there are in most Shakespearean plays as a whole. Both of these differences make Othello one of Shakespeares most focused, intense tragedies.
Act III Scene 2 Othello gives Iago some letters that need to be delivered back to Venice Iago is in turn supposed to give the letters to a ships pilot who is sailing back to Venice.
Act III Scene 3 Read III.3.1130-1132 Desdemona decides that she wants to advocate for Cassio. She tells Emilia so, and that she believes Cassio is a good person, and has been wronged in this case Iago seizes on this opportunity to play on Othellos insecurities, and make Cassio seem guilty Othello then speaks to Desdemona, and Desdemona expresses her concern for Cassio She is persistent in his suit, which Othello is not too pleased about.
Act III Scene 3 Iago then plays on Othellos insecurities about Desdemona, and gets Othello to believe, through insinuation, that there is something going on between Desdemona and Cassio. Othello seizes on this, and then Iago works at building up his suspicions. Othello begins to doubt his wife, as Iago lets his insinuations gain the force of an accusation against her. Othello begins to voice his insecurities when it comes to Desdemona, and himself as well. Desdemona enters and Othello admits that he is troubled, though he will not state the cause. Watch movie scene
Act III Scene 3 Read III.3.1132-1134 Desdemona drops the handkerchief that Othello gave her on their honeymoon Emilia knew that her husband had wanted it for something, so she doesnt feel too guilty about taking it. Emilia gives it to Iago, who decides to use the handkerchief for his own devices. Othello re-enters, and tells Iago that he now doubts his wife Othello demands proof so Iago sets about making stories up about Cassio talking in his sleep He says that Cassio has the handkerchief that Othello gave to Desdemona. Othello is incensed to hear that Desdemona would give away something so valuable, and is persuaded by Iagos insinuations and claims to believe that Desdemona is guilty. Othello then swears to have Cassio dead, and to be revenged upon Desdemona for the non-existent affair. Watch movie scene
Analysis: Desdemona Desdemonas choice of words to describe Cassio is unfortunate: she calls him a "suitor," not meaning it in a romantic sense, although Othello could certainly take it that way. Desdemona binds her reputation to Cassios in an unfortunate way She says that if Cassio is wrong, "I have no judgment in an honest face". Of course Desdemona means well, but she gambles too much on another persons honor.
Analysis: Jealousy Jealousy is soon addressed specifically by Iago. "It is the green-eyed monster," Iago tells him The "green-eyed monster" becomes a symbol representing Othellos dark feelings, a specter lurking in his mind and beginning to steer his behavior. Iagos speech is also deeply ironic, since it points out Othellos flaws, and the root of his tragedy Othello has no idea of the significance of these statements, and so neglects to take them to heart.
Analysis: Insecure Othello is deeply insecure about his personal qualities and his marriage Insecurity becomes a theme that weakens his resolve not to doubt Desdemona. Othello uses his black skin as a symbol for how poorly spoken and unattractive he thinks he is. All of his claims are very much beside the point; his words are actually more complex and beautiful than those spoken by any other character in the play. Because he begins to believe that Desdemona cannot love him, he starts to believe her guilty of infidelity. The leap is great, but it is all a product of Othellos own insecurities and his incorrect conception of himself, another theme of the play. How Othello sees himself directly influences how he views Desdemonas love
Analysis: Imagery Othello begins to use the black/ white imagery found throughout the play, to express his grief and rage at Desdemonas alleged treachery. "My name, that was as fresh as Dians visage, is now begrimed and black as mine own face," Othello says. Although the allegations against Desdemona are personally hurtful to him, Othello focuses more on the public ramifications, rather than the private There is great irony in this concern, since this rumored betrayal is a private one, and also since Othellos name is highly regarded, because nothing has really happened. Iagos "proofs" also rely on the animal imagery which has run throughout the play he makes Desdemona and Cassio seem like lustful lovers, by describing them as "prime as goats, as hot as monkeys" (400). This comparison is calculated, since Iago knows that thinking of Desdemona as lusting after another man disturbs Othello greatly.
Analysis: Handkerchief The handkerchief, the most crucial symbol and object in the play. The handkerchief, to Desdemona, symbolizes Othellos love, since it was his first gift to her. Othello thinks that the handkerchief, quite literally, is Desdemonas love When she has lost it, that must clearly mean that she does not love him any longer. The handkerchief also becomes a symbol of Desdemonas alleged betrayal
Analysis: Proof "Proof" is a key word in this scene Othello demands that Iago prove Desdemona unfaithful by actually seeing evidence of her guilt. Iago manages to work around this completely; he plays off of Othellos jealousy, telling him stories that damn Cassio and mention the handkerchief Othello trusts Iagos words to convey proof, and is thwarted by Iagos dishonesty Othello only realizes later that he has been tricked and has seen no proof, when it is too late for him to take his actions back.
Analysis: Language This act represents the beginning of Othellos giving up language From this point forward, notice how Othellos use of imagery and story become less and less frequent, and how he begins to rely upon Iago for speech and explanation. Othello is reduced by Iago and his own jealousy to single lines of speech, monosyllabic utterings of "O!" and the like. And just as language is the power with which Othello was able to woo Desdemona, his loss of it is a resignation of this power which attracted her to him. Othello suspects his wifes language, and Cassios as well; he is distracted from suspicion of Iago Othello begins to lose his power over himself, and over others, when he loses his beautiful language This resignation marks a huge shift in the balance of power between Othello and Iago Iago becomes more dominant in the relationship, and begins to steer Othello.
Analysis: Chaos vs. Order In the battle between order and chaos, chaos seems to be winning out. Othello abandons his reason in judging Iagos "proofs," and his abandonment of language also marks a descent into chaos. Although it is a chaos controlled by Iago, order and reason are on the losing side Raging emotions and speculations begin to rule Othellos fate, as he comes closer and closer to his tragic end.
Act III Scene 4 Desdemona asks the clown where Cassio is; the clown goes off to fetch him. Desdemona is looking everywhere for the handkerchief, very sorry to have lost it; she knows that her losing it will upset Othello greatly Othello enters, and asks for Desdemonas handkerchief; she admits that she does not have it, and then Othello tells her of its significance and alleged magical powers. Desdemona does not like Othellos tone; he seems obsessed with this object, and Desdemona is so frightened by him that she wishes she had nothing to do with it. She interrupts Othellos inquiry by bringing up Cassios attempt to get back into Othellos favor; Othello becomes angry, and storms out.
Act III Scene 4 Cassio then enters, with Iago and laments that his suit is not successful, and that Othello does not seem likely to take him back. Desdemona is sorry for this, since she knows that Cassio is a man of worth She tells Cassio and Iago that Othello has been acting strange, and is upset, and Iago goes to look for him, feigning concern. Emilia thinks that Othellos change has something to do with Desdemona, or Othellos jealous nature
Act III Scene 4 Read III.4.1136-1137 Bianca comes in, and Cassio asks her to copy the handkerchief that he found in his room It is Desdemonas handkerchief, though Cassio has no idea. He claims he does not love her, and gets angry at her for allegedly suspecting that the handkerchief is a gift of another woman. Bianca is not disturbed, and leaves with the handkerchief. Watch movie scene
Analysis: Double Meanings Othellos words often have a double meaning When he is describing Desdemonas hand, he says it is "moist" and "hot“ an allusion to a lustful nature. He says she is of a "liberal heart"; this could mean a generous heart, but could also be indicating Desdemonas supposed licentiousness. "Heres a young and sweating devil here, who constantly rebels," Othello says; the metaphor speaks badly of Desdemona, and betrays his distrust of her. In the next breath, he says, "tis a good hand"; the juxtaposition of the two statements shows Othello trying not to betray his disappointment He is deeply disturbed, and seems to be questioning and examining her to prove that she really is the harlot
Analysis: Magic Hanky Here, Othello finally elaborates upon the handkerchiefs importance for Desdemona. "Theres magic in the web of it," Othello says; he language is full of mystical, dark images Othello reveals that he believes the handkerchief to literally symbolize Desdemonas affection The irony is that although the handkerchief is lost, Desdemona still loves him. The theme of appearance vs. reality appears
Analysis: Bianca Cassios behavior toward Bianca is in sharp contrast to the courtly politeness he shows Desdemona and Emilia. This is because of Biancas station as a courtesan; not regarded the same respect as ladies Bianca proves to be as perceptive as Emilia and Desdemona, and even more realistic about matters of love. The change in Cassios tone and behavior around Bianca betray a cultural bias of the time toward women of certain stations His behavior would not have been thought mean at the time, because of Biancas lowly status.