The Climax & Ending of Othello

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby

Kaitlin has a BA in political science and experience teaching.

At the end of William Shakespeare's tragic play, Othello, things are looking bleak for the titular character. He has just found out his wife Desdemona is cheating on him with Cassio, and he is furious. But is she really cheating on him?

The Buildup

Few stories really capture the dangers of jealously like Shakespeare's Othello. The protagonist, Othello, starts the play in love with his wife Desdemona. However, the jealousy of Iago, one of Othello's officers who proves himself to be ultimately unable to handle the fact that Othello has chosen to put his faith in another officer, Cassio. Throughout the play, Iago seeks to stoke his own jealousy by causing Othello to grow suspicious of the relationship of his wife and Cassio. Ultimately, that mistrust leads to plenty of deaths to go around.

Death of Desdemona

Trusting Iago

Of course, Iago has more than just hatred for Cassio to base his jealousy off of. He has conspired with Rodrigo, who had wanted to marry Desdemona. Rodrigo, meanwhile, fans the flame of distrust that Iago already has for Othello when it comes to Iago's own wife.

Okay, wait a second. Is all of this starting to sound a little middle schoolish? Rodrigo is effectively telling Iago that he can't be friends with both him and Othello, while the fact that Othello picked someone else first for kickball has really upset Iago. Add in the fact that Iago's crush thinks that Othello is cute and you've got a whole boatload of middle school drama going on in Venice.

Iago, meanwhile, sees that the best way to drive Othello mad is to accuse Othello's two perceived greatest loves, Desdemona and Cassio, of having an inappropriate relationship.

Killing Desdemona

Finally, Othello gives in to this thought from Iago. Iago plants a handkerchief that has great meaning between Desdemona and Othello in Cassio's belongings, which then leads Othello to believe that the rumor about Desdemona and Cassio is true. Iago is then asked by Othello to kill Cassio, which he fails, while Othello proceeds to be a massive jerk to Desdemona. Finally, that night Othello smothers Desdemona as she sleeps.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account