A quick overview of what happens in Othello. 

If you're looking for fun ways to discover more about the plot of Othello while learning at home, take a look at our Activity Toolkit.

  • Iago is angry that Othello, the general of the army, has promoted Cassio to be his lieutenant instead of Iago.

  • Othello has secretly married Desdemona, the daughter of a senator in Venice.

    Did you Know? VENICE

    Venice is the setting of the first act of the play. It was a city state in Italy at the time Shakespeare was writing and in the play Venice is at war with Turkey.

  • Iago tells Desdemona's father about the secret marriage to cause trouble for Othello.

  • Desdemona’s father makes a formal complaint about Othello’s behaviour to the Duke of Venice. His complaint is ignored and the Duke sends Othello to Cyprus to continue fighting in a war.

  • Othello goes to Cyprus and takes his new wife Desdemona with him, together with Iago and Michael Cassio.

    Did you Know? CYPRUS

    Cyprus is where most of the play happens. It’s an outpost, or army camp, where the Duke of Venice sends his army to fight against the Turkish. However, the Turkish fleet is destroyed in a storm so there are no battles in the play.

  • Iago encourages Cassio to get drunk whilst on duty. Cassio ends up in a drunken fight and is demoted from his position as lieutenant.

  • Iago begins to plant seeds of suspicion in Othello’s mind about his wife’s relationship with Michael Cassio. Iago gets hold of a handkerchief belonging to Desdemona and hides it in Cassio’s room pretending it is proof of Desdemona’s unfaithfulness.

  • Desdemona pleads with Othello to give Cassio his job back. She does this innocently but Othello takes this as proof of her feelings for Cassio.

  • Iago continues to manipulate Othello to the point where Othello murders his new wife as punishment for her supposed unfaithfulness.

  • Iago’s wife, Emilia, tells Othello that Iago has lied. Othello realises his tragic mistake and commits suicide over the body of his wife as Iago is arrested.

Teacher Notes

On this page you can print the ten descriptions and ask students to work in pairs to arrange them in the order they take place in the play.

Alternatively, you can ask students to work in groups to explore one of the ten descriptions and bring it to life by creating a freeze frame or tableau before watching them all in order.