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Othello Act 3, Scene 2 Summary & Quotes

Instructor: Tommi Waters

TK Waters has a bachelor's degree in literature and religious studies and a master's degree in religious studies and teaches Hebrew Bible at Western Kentucky University.

In this lesson, we will discuss Act 3, Scene 2 of William Shakespeare's ''Othello'' in which Othello gives Iago letters to take to Venice while he examines the walls of the city.

Iago's Conspiracy

Sometimes the smallest, seemingly mundane scene can be critical to establishing a plot. Though Act 3, Scene 2 of Shakespeare's Othello is extremely short, it still helps to set details in place for the villain's plot.

As Othello unfolds, Iago, the antagonist, does all he can to break up Othello's, the protagonist, marriage to his new bride Desdemona. At the end of Act 3, Scene 1, Iago reveals that he is going to ''devise a mean to draw the Moor / Out of the way'' so that Desdemona and Cassio, Othello's ex-lieutenant, can talk about a way to get Othello to like Cassio again.

Iago, however, plans to help them get this time away from Othello ''the Moor,'' or African Muslim, so that Othello will think they are having an affair and will annul his marriage to Desdemona.

Letters and Fortifications

Act 3, Scene 2 opens with Othello and Iago talking. Othello tells Iago, ''These letters give, Iago, to the pilot; / And by him do my duties to the senate.'' He is asking Iago to give the letters to the ''pilot'' or captain of the ship who brought him from Venice to Cyprus to let the senate, or government of Venice, know that all is well. He says that after Iago takes the letters, he will be ''walking on the works,'' or walking on the city's fortifications. Fortifications are the walls built to encase a city and protect it from enemy armies and fleets.

Example of fortification walls
wall

Keeping Out the Enemy

Othello plans to walk around Cyprus' fortifications to ensure everything is up to his standards to protect the city from enemies. However, Othello's determination to keep the enemy out only includes foreign enemies and he does not realize that Iago, to whom he is talking, is plotting against him.

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