Act IV Scene i – The Ocular Proof

Othello is completely overwhelmed by the thought of Desdemona’s sexual promiscuity, her infidelity with his lieutenant, Michael Cassio so much that he collapses in a stupor.  We note the switch to prose and his use of short exclamatory sentences during his ‘imaginings’.

Meanwhile, Iago lies, statins that Cassio was present during Othello’s trance – that he was being mocked.

Iago questions  Cassio about Biance, suggesting to Othello – who has been ordered by Iago to retreat out of sight deliberately to overhear the forthcoming conversation – that the discussion about sexual liasons and conquests are related to Desdemona – not Bianca.  Othello witnesses Bianca’s arrival with the handkerchief. 

All of this presents the “ocular proof” so desired by Othello.

Othello’s first utterance after Cassio and Bianca leave the scene concerns the murder of Cassio, but his love for Desdemona remains obvious and has not been completely extinguished; Iago must continue to refute Desdemona in fear that the Moor may change his mind, and we are reminded of Iago’s soliloquies and that Cassio is not the only reputation (or life) he wishes to destroy. 

Desdemona’s positive attributes are constantly on Othello’s mind, as he vacillates between letting her live and her death.  But Iago’s ridicule – that Othello accepts being a cuckold and therefore will have his reputation and male pride tarnished – seals Desdemona’s fate – even suggesting that strangulation, as opposed to “poison”, will have greater significane should it be performed upon their bed.

Lodovico’s arrival signals a change in the command at Cyprus, and when Desdemona reacts pleasantly to the news that Cassio will assume Othello’s position, the Moor becomes enraged, slapping her in front of the assembled.  Iago, ever “honest”, admits to a contrast in behaviours exhibited by Othello but offers no reason, merely suggesting that Lodovico should continue to pay attention to future events.

6 thoughts on “Act IV Scene i – The Ocular Proof”

  1. A power switch has taken place between Othello and Iago , withdraws and listens to the conversation Iago and Cassio have as Othello miss judges the conversation.

    Othello is been driven by love , as it makes the suffering and betrayal worse. In contrast with Iago’s lust and anger.

    “even men with steal hearts like to a dog on the pitch ”

    Iago is becoming more care free , the plans are free to run the coarse , he’s making comments within Othello’s ear shot, enjoying the danger and craves the power.
    He is gaining confidance from the plan.

  2. A power switch has taken place between Othello and Iago , withdraws and listens to the conversation Iago and Cassio have as Othello miss judges the conversation.

    Othello is been driven by love , as it makes the suffering and betrayal worse. In contrast with Iago\’s lust and anger.

    \"even men with steal hearts like to a dog on the pitch \"

    Iago is becoming more care free , the plans are free to run the coarse , he\’s making comments within Othello\’s ear shot, enjoying the danger and craves the power.
    He is gaining confidance from the plan.

  3. iago’s ridicule seals Desdemona’s fate- suggesting that strangling and not poisoning will have symbolic significance;
    “Do it not with poison, strangle her in her bed, even the bed she hath contaminated.” Here, Iago tells Othello to strangle Desdemona in their marital bed, which symbolises Desdemona’s fidelity and faith to Othello, which she has betrayed with Cassio. This is significant as it symbolises Othello purifying his bed.

  4. Lodovico’s arrival marks a change in the command at Cyprus, and when Desdemona acts pleasantly to the fact Cassio will assume Othello’s position becomes enraged, slapping her in public. Iago suggests that Othello has changed lately. As Othello and Iago plan Desdemona’s death they are interrupted by Desdemona and Lodovico. Still enraged Othello lashes out at Desdemona:
    “Devil! Strikes her.”
    “I have not deserved this.”
    Desdemona is hurt and confused as to why Othello has just hit her. She is completely oblivious to the story of lies Iago has created about her.

  5. Act 4 Scene 1
    Iago finalizes his grasp on Othello when he hears Cassio talk about Desdemona with Iago, as well as Bianca weilding his hankerchief: “Nay, you must forget that.”
    Othello thinks about desdemona and her positive attributes but here, Iago tells him to put away these thoughts and concerntrate on the apparent Desdemona’s deciet.

    After Iago asks him to forget, Othello focuses on her wrong doing: “let her rot, and perish, and be damned tonight for she shall not live.”
    Here Othello is under Iagos control, by using language, innocent events and his faults.

    He then states: “the world hath not a sweeter creature.” Here, Othellos love for Desdemona is still present b ut will be overcome by Iago in due time, this will lead to the deaths of Cassio, Desdemona and eventually Othello.

  6. Iago’s lie shave afffected Othhello phyisically & mentally in Act 4 scene 1 “hankerchief – conffesion – hankerchief”
    Othello’s language has become base and lacks the non-chalense towards Cassio and Desdamona.

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