Othello Summary Act III
When Cassio meets Desdemona, Othello is away inspecting fortifications much to Iago’s delight. Desdemona is extremely sympathetic towards cassio knowing the strong bond he shares with her husband. It is in their conversation that dramatic irony comes into play where Desdemona swears to do her best to convince Othello to reinstate Cassio.
“I’ll intermingle everything he does with Cassio’s suit” (act iii, iii, 20-6).
The dramatic irony in her actions is the fact that Due to Iago’s mischief, Othello will be misinterpreting Desdemona’s intercession of Cassio.
Iago now diffuses his poison saying
“Cassio. My lord? No sure, I cannot think that he would steal away so guilty seeing you coming” (act iii, iii, 37-40).
With this Iago successfully sows the seed of doubt and jealousy in Othello’s mind.
He feigns a headache avoiding conversation with Desdemona who uses her handkerchief a gift from Othello, to wipe his brow. When it falls he instructs her to leave it. Iago takes the handkerchief from Emilia who has found it and hides it in Cassio’s home knowing fully well cassio would keep it. When Desdemona swears to him that she is loyal to him, he is furious with Iago for casting doubts upon his wife and apprehends him
However a wily Iago manages to reconvince Othello of his wife’s infidelity. In their Argument Iago uses a popular poetic device of a generalized theme to explain Othello’s humane situation.
‘’O beware my Lord of jealousy It is the green ey’d Monster which doth mock. The meat it feeds on that cuckold lives in bliss, act iii, iii 167-68)”
Iago suggests that the cuckold is torn between his affection and jealousy living in feigned ignorance of his wife’s affairs.
Iago provides proof of Desdemona’s handkerchief with Cassio. Othello by now is totally convinced and furious with Desdemona. He promotes Iago and wants cassio dead. It is in this act that we get an apt analysis of the egoistic vain and fickle minded Othello through the device of hubris reflected in his words
“it is the plague of great ones” act iii,iii, 314)
meaning great people are the ones usually plagued by such misfortunes in an attempt to justify Desdemona’s infidelity, again he states in another hubris how he has lost all the grandeur and pride of war personifying himself as a great general,
“ Pride, pomp and circumstance of glorious war!…(act iii, iii 406)
Desdemona is worried that her missing handkerchief could make matters worse. While Othello brings up the subject of the handkerchief, she keeps passing off the topic of conversation to Cassio enraging him who orders her to leave.
Cassio feels that Desdemona is unsuccessful and Iago feigns ignorance. Cassio returns Desdemona’s handkerchief to his own Mistress Bianca. The handkerchief in the play is an important symbol of the bond between Othello and Desdemona which now falls apart.