Othello Act 1 Summary

Othello and Desdemona are featured in the first act and consist of 3 scenes. In the middle of the night, a young and attractive Venetian noblewoman, Desdemona, unexpectedly encounters Othello, the Moor of Venice. Iago and Roderigo inform Desdemona’s father about the meeting at the same time, anticipating that the Venice senator would bring an end to their relation.

With Desdemona, Roderigo hates Othello for being more popular. Why does Othello dislike Iago? Not only is he more popular with Desdemona, but as Othello did not make him a lieutenant some time back, he still has a grudge. Iago feels he’s been robbed that Cassio, who got his preferred role, doesn’t deserve it.

They wake up Brabantio up, who at first doesn’t trust the men, but then learns that his daughter was not at home. He sends his servants instructions to get him Othello. Brabantio and his servants engage with Othello’s warriors in a battle, but they stop when the officers call Brabantio and Othello for an emergency meeting of the council.

A sailor declares at the meeting: “The Turkish preparation for Rhodes” (Act I, Scene III). The senators and the Duke of Venice are of the view that the Turks intend to invade Cyprus, a colony of Venice at the moment. Othello is entrusted with the island’s security.

Brabantio is seeking to get justice for his daughter, saying she was stolen by the Moors. His father begins to suspect that the Moor used witchcraft on her as Desdemona contests such a version and assures him she is in love with Othello.

Othello claims that after she heard the tales of all the fights that he had gone through, Desdemona fell in love with him. The Duke of Venice, and the senators attending the meeting, are persuaded that two people’s desire for each other is reciprocal and that their union is acceptable. Then, Desdemona tries to go to war with her husband.

After his scheme stalls, Roderigo sinks into despair, but Iago reassures him that while tarnishing Cassio’s credibility in the midst of the process, it is possible to break up their relationship.