The Duke is meeting with senators: a large Turkish fleet is headed to attack the Venetians in Cyprus. Othello, Brabanzio, and the others enter. The Duke greets Othello and, once he sees him, Brabanzio. Brabanzio relates his news: his daughter has been stolen from him. The Duke promises that the criminal will be punished severely; Brabanzio thanks him, and reveals that the criminal is Othello. Othello speaks: he acknowledges that he has married Desdemona, but, though he is not eloquent, he will explain what happened: he wooed and won her. Brabanzio declares that is impossible, that Othello has certainly used magic; but the Duke answers that he will need evidence to believe those accusations. Othello asks for Desdemona to be brought and to explain herself what has happened, and sends Iago to retrieve her. In the meantime, he says, he will tell how he won her. He simply told Desdemona stories: about his military adventures, about the wild things he had seen in his travels. Desdemona, he says, loved him for his dangerous life, and he loved her for pitying it.
Desdemona enters. The Duke is already convinced; Othello's stories, he says, would have won his daughter too. But Brabanzio insists that Desdemona speak before they decide. She does: her duty, she says, is now not to him, her father, but to the Moor, her husband. Brabanzio relents, saying he's thankful that he has no other children to betray him as Desdemona has. The Duke blesses the couple, and, speaking in rhymed lines, asks Brabanzio to forget this loss. Brabanzio, also speaking in rhyme, responds that words are only words, but cannot mend his heart. The Duke informs Othello that he must go to defend Cyprus from the Turks. He will, he says, but wants to bring Desdemona with him. Desdemona agrees: she fell in love with Othello for his military prowess, and does not want to be away from him, or his prowess, now. Othello promises that he will be no less serious or war-like because Desdemona is with him. The Duke allows it and tells Othello he will have to leave in the morning. Asked to leave an officer behind, to receive important information for Othello and take it to him in Cyprus, Othello chooses Iago, and also assigns Iago the task of bringing Desdemona with him to Cyprus when he comes (by which time, presumably, Cyprus will be safer). Brabanzio departs, warning Othello that Desdemona has deceived her father, and may do the same to him. Othello says he will stake his life upon Desdemona's faithfulness, and leaves with her, saying that they have only an hour remaining for love.
Roderigo and Iago remain. Roderigo wants, he says, to drown himself. Iago scolds him: a man's body is a garden, and his will the gardener: man can plant and weed as he wishes, and love is but a small section of it, easily controlled - not a reason to kill oneself. Instead, Iago suggests, Roderigo should get as much money as he can - the love between Desdemona and Othello will wear out quickly, and Roderigo should be prepared to woo Desdemona when it does. Iago vows to support Roderigo; he hates Othello, and nothing would make Iago happier than if Roderigo cuckolded him. Arranging to meet with Iago the next day, and preparing to sell everything he has, Roderigo leaves. Iago, alone, congratulates himself for gathering money for his own uses via the gullible Roderigo. He hates the Moor, he says, for it's rumored that Othello has slept with Iago's own wife. Iago begins to formulate his plan: he will trick Othello into thinking that Cassio might be sleeping with Desdemona - it will be easy, he says, because Othello is so trusting. The plan is a brilliant and monstrous one, Iago concludes, given birth to by "hell and night."
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Scenes 1.1 and 1.2
Scenes 2.1 and 2.2
Scenes 3.1 and 3.2
Scenes 4.2 and 4.3