Act 4 Summary Response
In Act 4 of William Shakespeare’s Othello, Othello becomes much more convinced that Desdemona cheated on him, which causes reactions that make their relationship begin to crumble. First, Iago goes into extreme detail describing Desdemona and Cassio together, which causes Othello to have an epileptic fit. He then stages a conversation between himself and Cassio, making it look like they are talking about Desdemona. Once Othello sees this, he decides he is going to kill Desdemona. He confronts Emilia about the affair, and she denies it. When Desdemona enters and also denies it, Othello gets very angry and hits her. Desdemona becomes very confused, and doesn’t know why Othello is so mad at her. He storms off, and she tries to get answers from Iago and Emilia. In this act, once Othello believes Desdemona is cheating on him, their relationship begins to fall apart.
In William Shakespeare’s Othello, Othello should not believe what Iago tells him, because Iago deceives him through his words, with no evidence. As part of his plan to get revenge, Iago makes the affair between Desdemona and Cassio seem awful. He went into the details of what they were doing together, knowing it would upset Othello. He talks about Desdemona betraying him, and he tries to make it seem as though it isn’t a very big deal, knowing that Othello will think the worst. When Iago is talking to Othello, he says, “Or to be naked with her friend in bed/ An hour or more, not meaning any harm” (Shakespeare 4.1.5-6). When he says this, he speaks as though it isn’t very serious, but he knows Othello will dig at it in his mind. Iago is trying to completely convince Othello of the affair, and by saying things that make Othello visualizes, it works perfectly for him.
Although it may not be true, Desdemona unknowingly makes Othello believe the affair is real. She is trying to get Cassio is position of lieutenant back, and though it may be purely because of friendship, with the thought of the affair in his mind, Othello twists her kindness into something more. When Desdemona is talking to Lodovico, she mentions how Othello and Cassio had a falling out. Lodovico asks, “...Is there division ’twixt my lord and Cassio?” To which Desdemona responds, “A most unhappy one. I would do much/ T' atone them, for the love I bear to Cassio.” (Shakespeare 4.1.253-255). Even though Desdemona may be saying this out of care for a friend, when she says she loves Cassio, Othello takes it more literally. She is giving him a reason to believe what Iago told him, without knowing what she is doing to her relationship.
At first glance, it may seem as though Othello has plenty of reasons to believe the lies Iago is telling him. This position seems reasonable, because of the strong friendship demonstrated between Desdemona and Cassio throughout the play, however, if one looks deeper into the situation, they would see the depth of Iago’s deception. Othello would have no problem with their friendship if Iago hadn’t planted the idea of the affair in his head. Once he starts to believe it, every little thing comes to his attention. Iago has been deceiving everyone from the start, and it all compiles together to create this misunderstanding between everybody. In conclusion, Iago is wrongfully making Othello believe that his wife is cheating on him.