Othello’s clown comes out and insults the musicians by comparing the noise from their instruments to farts since their using Wind instruments.The clown then tells the players Othello loves their music so much he wants them to stop playing.However, if they have any music that can’t be heard, they’re more than welcome to play that kind of music. The musicians say they don’t have that type of music, so he tells them to leave.
Cassio is falling right into the hands of Iago because he’s so determined to make his case to Othello by getting Desdemona to vouch for him. In the meantime, Iago promises to lure Othello away from Desdemona, so Cassio can speak with her freely. Iago exits and Cassio says, “Wow, what a great guy.” (Iago’s really got everyone fooled.) Instead of being satisfied that things look like they’re going to be okay, Cassio says he’d still like to talk with Desdemona. He asks Emilia if she can help him set up a private meeting, and she says she’ll see what she can do.
Othello bids Iago to give his regards to the Senate, and instructs him to meet later at the fortifications that are being built. Meanwhile, he’s off to inspect said fortifications, which conveniently gets him out of the way for Cassio to have some private, incriminating time with Desdemona.
Cassio has explained the whole situation to Desdemona, and she promises to not rest until she’s convinced Othello to reinstate Cassio as his lieutenant and renew their friendship. Desdemona again emphasizes that she’ll do everything she can.She even says she’d rather die than give up on fixing this situation.
When she goes, Othello says something like, “What a gal! Boy do I love her. Life would be chaos without her.”
Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul 100
But I do love thee! And when I love thee not,
Chaos is come again.
3. O, beware, my lord, of jealousy! 195
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.
4. Desdemona to his falcon. He says if he does find that she is wild (haggard), then, though the leather straps that would tie her to his wrists (jesses) are actually his heart-strings, he would release her to fly on the wind at fortune, both “at random” and “to her fate,” though he’d not know if she would ever return to him. thinking of other reasons Desdemona might be unfaithful to him. Whatever it is, Othello concludes Desdemona is lost to him; his only relief from his grief will now be to hate her. Emilia and Desdemona come in, and for a moment Othello’s mind reverses almost immediately; he can’t believe that his wife would betray him.
5. Desdemona notices that her husband seems unwell, and she tries to soothe him, offering to bind up his head with her handkerchief.Othello says her handkerchief is too small, and pushes it away. It drops to the floor without either of them noticing.
Iago decides to put the napkin (a.k.a., the handkerchief) in Cassio’s room in order to fuel Othello’s suspicions. Though the token is only a little thing, it’s enough of a confirmation to set off Othello’s jealous fantasies.
6. Othello talks about how torn he is—about Desdemona and about Iago. Again he demands that Iago bring him proof of Desdemona’s infidelity.
Othello asks Desdemona for her hand, and notes that it is moist. A moist hand was thought to be a sure mark of a lascivious person. Othello waxes on about Desdemona’s hand; he says her hot, moist indicates that she’s bound to get into mischief if she doesn’t pray, fast, and lock herself away from temptation. Next, he calls her hand “frank,” which she takes to mean honest and open. Well, he does mean open, but he means it in the sense of too open, like she’s willing to give her hand to anyone. He says that in the old days, when someone gave up their hand in marriage, they gave up their heart. These days, though, people give up their hands without their hearts, (i.e., casual sex).
Desdemona’s had enough of all this talk about her hands. She changes the subject and reminds Othello that he promised to see Cassio. (Her timing is as bad as Iago’s is good.)
2. This, of course, only inflames Othello’s suspicions. He declares that his eyes are watering strangely, and asks if perhaps Desdemona has her handkerchief about her. When Desdemona hands him a normal handkerchief, Othello asks her where her special handkerchief is. Desdemona simply says she doesn’t have. Oh really? says Othello. He then tells her the story of the handkerchief. It’s a family heirloom and totally sacred. A psychic informed his mom that, as long as she had the handkerchief, Othello’s dad would love her. But, if she lost it or gave it away, Othello’s dad would hate her and go back on the prowl. Othello’s mom gave the handkerchief to her son on her deathbed, telling him to give it to the woman he’d have for his wife. Othello explains this is why he told Desdemona to take care of the handkerchief. Losing it would be the worst thing ever. E-ver.
Othello assures her that yes, he’s totally serious. This is basically a magic hankie, and she’d better take good care of it. Desdemona is a little freaked out by the story. She says if that’s the case, she wishes she’d never seen it. (You have to admit, the way Othello’s describing it, it’s kind of a messed up gift to give someone.) Othello seizes on this and Desdemona asks what on earth is wrong with him. Why is he acting so strange?
Desdemona, clearly upset by Othello’s strange questioning, says it’s not lost, but what if it was? Othello again demands to see it, and Desdemona says that she could get it right now if she wanted to, but she’s not going to. And then she turns the conversation back to Cassio. (Yikes. This couldn’t possibly be going worse.)
The discussion over the handkerchief escalates into a huge fight. Othello keeps demanding to see it and Desdemona keeps refusing and telling him that he needs to forgive Cassio (which is really not helping matters). Eventually, Othello swears and storms out.
3. Emilia says, “This is the guy you said doesn’t get jealous?” Desdemona can’t understand it. She’s never seen this side of her husband, and she doesn’t know what’s going on. Emilia declares this is no big deal, since women are like food to men.