Short Commentary on Othello Act 4 Scene 1 Lines 1-46

Authors Avatar

The opening scene of Act 4 in Othello succeeds one in which Othello begins to confront Desdemona about Cassio via the loss of her handkerchief. Bewildered by her husband's strange new violent and jealous behaviour, Desdemona, unknowingly, tries even harder to help Cassio.

She continually implores that Othello gives him back his position as officer, if just in order to remind her husband of his esteemed position among the society, and in general, of his own sense of honour and morality that she, as his wife, had always seen in and respected of him.

Act 4 Scene 1 opens up in media-res of a conversation taking place between Iago and Othello. This scene chiefly introduces to the audience Iago as having gained full control, as we see Othello now to be the one unconsciously repeating after him.

Join now!

Through the use of intimation, imagery and the theme of appearance vs. reality, the audience is convinced of Iago's success and Othello's deterioration.


In this scene, the overarching theme of appearance vs. reality is an implied but a recurrent and significant one. Through Iago's character, Shakespeare analogizes materialistic/physical things to the main values explored in the play, successfully conveying to the audience the importance of both, but on a deeper level, how Iago has the ability both to hinder and manipulate them in his acts of "double knavery".

The handkerchief Othello gives to Desdemona, ...

This is a preview of the whole essay