Act 3 Scene 3
Desdemona reassures Cassio that she will continue to speak to Othello on his behalf. She says ‘Do not doubt, Cassio, but I will have my lord and you again as friendly as you were’. Iago makes sure Othello sees the end of their conversation and notices Cassio leaving Desdemona. He says to Othello that it can’t have been Cassio because ‘I cannot think it that he would steal away so guilty-like seeing you coming’. Desdemona then persuades Othello to talk to Cassio and he claims ‘I will deny thee nothing’. As she leaves he says ‘Perdition catch my soul / but I do love thee! And when I love thee not, / chaos is come again’. Iago immediately begins to sow seeds of suspicion in Othello’s mind, subtly at first and then more obviously, suggesting that something is going on between Cassio and Desdemona, advising him to ‘Look to your wife, observe her well with Cassio’. Iago leaves Othello convinced of his wife’s infidelity, saying ’She’s gone, I am abused, and my relief must be to loath her’. When Desdemona comes back with Emilia, Othello complains ‘I have a pain upon my forehead, here’. As Desdemona tries to help him she drops her handkerchief. Left alone, Emilia picks it up, telling the audience, ‘My wayward husband hath a hundred times wooed me to steal it’. Iago returns and takes it from her. He tells the audience that he will plant the handkerchief in Cassio’s room, hoping it will provide further ‘proof’ of Cassio’s affair with Desdemona.
Othello returns to see Iago, furious at the idea of his wife with Cassio, saying ‘thou hast set me on the rack!’ He demands that Iago provide ‘ocular proof’. Iago winds him up more saying ‘Were they as prime as goats, as hot as monkeys’ it would be hard to catch them in the act. He pretends he has heard Cassio talking in his sleep about the affair, then adds that he has seen Cassio using Desdemona’s handkerchief which ‘speaks against her with the other proofs’. Othello is convinced and vows a ‘wide revenge’. He asks Iago to kill Cassio and plans to kill Desdemona himself.