Plot Summary and Analysis of Othello, the Moor of Venice
A plot is a series of events related to a central conflict, or struggle. The following plot diagram illustrates the main plot of Othello.
The parts of a plot are as follows:
The exposition is the part of a plot that provides background information about the characters, setting, or conflict.
The inciting incident is the event that sets into motion the central conflict, or struggle.
The rising action, or complication, develops the conflict to a high point of intensity.
The crisis, or turning point, presents a decisive occurrence that determines the future course of events in the play. This event may or may not be the same as the climax.
The falling action is all the events that come as the result of the crisis.
The resolution is the settlement point which ends or resolves the core dispute of the play. This event is called the catastrophe in a tragedy because it marks the ultimate fall of the central character.
The denouement is any material that follows the resolution and that ties up loose ends.
The Plot Of Othello
Othello’s plot follows the same general pattern found in most five-act plays of Renaissance era. Act I include exposition and inciting incident. The central conflict is established in Act II by means of the rising action or complication. In Act III, the crisis or climax comes, and in Act IV, the falling action. Act V consists of resolution (or catastrophe)and denouement.
Following is a brief summary of the plot of Othello.
Exposition and Inciting Incident (Act I)
The inciting incident is the elopement of Othello and Desdemona, that actually occurs before the scene I events. This case sets off all the following disputes. Actually, in act I, we meet Iago and hear about his friendship with Roderigo and his feelings against Othello. We also meet Othello and Desdemona and hear them speak in defence of their love before the Senate, in response to Desdemona’s father’s charge that the Moor took his daughter by unlawful means. Once the charges against Brabantio have been dismissed, the Duke announces that Othello must be sent to Cyprus immediately to ward off an attack by the Turkish enemy. He grants permission to Othello to bring his bride along. At the end of the act, Iago reveals in a soliloquy how he wants to get his vengeance on Othello: he is going to “abuse Othello’s ear / That [Cassio] is too familiar with his wife.”
Rising Action (Act II)
Several weeks elapsed at the beginning of Act II and the conflict with the Turks has ended, with the Turkish fleet sunk by a storm at sea. The characters all land safely on Cyprus Island, and a party is scheduled for that evening. Iago enacts the first part of his plan during the revels of the night, by getting Cassio drunk. As the pair had arranged earlier, Roderigo picks a fight with the drunk Cassio, and a fight follows. Othello intervenes, and finds Cassio guilty, dismisses him from his position as lieutenant. Iago encourages Cassio to seek help from Desdemona to win back Othello ‘s favour.