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Othello Act 5 Scene 2 Summary Analysis Essay

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1When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.2And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor.3Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders,4saying, I have sinned by betraying innocent blood. They said, What is that to us? See to it yourself.5And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.6But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.7So they took counsel and bought with them the potter's field as a burial place for strangers.8Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.9Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel,10and they gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord directed me.11Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, Are you the King of the Jews? Jesus said, You have said so.12But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer.13Then Pilate said to him, Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?14But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.15Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted.16And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.17So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?18For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up.19Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.20Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.21The governor again said to them, Which of the two do you want me to release for you? And they said, Barabbas.22Pilate said to them, Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ? They all said, Let him be crucified!23And he said, Why, what evil has he done? But they shouted all the more, Let him be crucified!24So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves.25And all the people answered, His blood be on us and on our children!26Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.27Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him.28And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him,29and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!30And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head.31And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.32As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross.33And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull),34they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.35And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.36Then they sat down and kept watch over him there.37And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.38Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left.39And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads40and saying, You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.41So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying,42He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.43He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, I am the Son of God.44And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.45Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani? that is, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?47And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, This man is calling Elijah.48And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink.49But the others said, Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.50And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.51And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.52The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised,53and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.54When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, Truly this was the Son of God!55There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him,56among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.57When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus.58He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.59And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud60and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.61Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.62The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate63and said, Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, After three days I will rise.64Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, He has risen from the dead, and the last fraud will be worse than the first.65Pilate said to them, You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.66So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

1When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:2And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.3Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,4Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.5And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.6And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.7And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in.8Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.9Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;10And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.11And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.12And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.13Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?14And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.15Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.16And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.17Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?18For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.19When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.20But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.21The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.22Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.23And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.24When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.25Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.26Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.27Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.28And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.29And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!30And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.31And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.32And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.33And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull,34They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.35And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.36And sitting down they watched him there;37And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.38Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.39And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,40And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.41Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,42He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.43He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.44The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.45Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?47Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.48And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.49The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.50Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.51And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;52And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,53And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.54Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.55And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:56Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedees children.57When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple:58He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.59And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,60And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.61And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.62Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,63Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.64Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.65Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.66So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

Act V, scene i: Cyprus. A street.


Iago has Roderigo poised and ready to pounce on Cassio, and kill him; if either of them is killed, it is to Iago's benefit, although he would like to have both of them disposed of, so that his devices might not be discovered. Roderigo and Cassio fight, and both are injured; Othello hears the scuffle, is pleased, and then leaves to finish off Desdemona. Iago enters, pretending that he knows nothing of the scuffle; Gratiano and Lodovico also stumble upon the scene, having no idea what has happened. Roderigo is still alive, so Iago feigns a quarrel, and finishes him off. Bianca comes by, and sees Cassio wounded; Iago makes some remark to implicate her; Cassio is carried away, and Roderigo is already dead. Emilia also comes in, and pins more blame on Bianca; she has done nothing, but Iago has some quick work to do if he is to exonerate himself in this mess.


Here, again, Iago addresses the audience directly about his intentions and actions; Iago is only truly honest with the audience, and hides something from each of the players. This creates an undercurrent of dramatic irony throughout the play, since the audience knows all of his plans, and individual characters know nothing, like Othello, or only a small portion of it, like Roderigo. Iago's tendency to disclose himself to the audience gives him a connection to the audience that Othello does not have; although Othello is the title character of the play, Iago has more lines and more interaction with the audience. It is Othello's tragedy that is the focus of the play, but Iago succeeds in stealing the show; he is one of those peculiar villains, like Richard III, who is more compelling, complex, and sometimes more interesting than any of the more noble characters he deceives.

Here, Iago again proves himself a consummate actor. This scene again brings up the theme of appearance vs. reality; for though Iago claims to know nothing of this battle, and be merely discovering it, he is the mastermind of the entire situation. Iago is many selves in this act; he is friend and advisor to Roderigo, then betrayer and murderer of Roderigo, consoler of Cassio, and the lead officer in this crisis. He uses misrepresentation to fill each of these roles as best he can, and not let the others know of his true plans and character. And he nearly succeeds.

Act V, scene ii: A bedchamber in the castle: DESDEMONA in bed asleep; a light burning.


Othello enters Desdemona's room while she is asleep; and though she is beautiful, and appears innocent, he is determined to kill her. He justifies this with images, metaphors, and ideas of her rebirth after death, and though his rage is softened, he is still much mistaken about her. Desdemona awakens, and he tells her to repent of any sins before she dies; she believes there is nothing she can do to stop him from killing her, but continues to assert her innocence. Othello tells her that he found her handkerchief with Cassio, though Desdemona insists it must not be true; she pleads with Othello not to kill her, but he begins to smother her. Emilia knocks, curious about what is going on; Othello lets her in, but tries to conceal Desdemona, who he thinks is already dead. Emilia brings the news of Roderigo's death, and Cassio's wounding.

Emilia soon finds out that Desdemona is nearly dead, by Othello's hand; Desdemona speaks her last words, and then Emilia pounces on Othello for committing this horrible crime. Othello is not convinced of his folly until Iago confesses his part, and Cassio speaks of the use of the handkerchief; then, Othello is overcome with grief.

Iago stabs Emilia for telling all about his plots, and then Emilia dies; the Venetian nobles reveal that Brabantio, Desdemona's father, is dead, and so cannot be grieved by this tragedy now. Othello stabs Iago when he is brought back in; Othello then tells all present to remember him how he is, and kills himself. Cassio becomes the temporary leader of the troops at Cyprus, and Lodovico and Gratiano are to carry the news of the tragedy back to Venice. Iago is taken into custody, and his crimes will be judged back in Venice.


Othello's farewell to Desdemona is a return to his former eloquence, though it is also a farewell to his own peace and his life. Though he believes Desdemona's soul to be black, he can only focus on her whiteness; he pledges not to mar "that whiter skin of hers than snow," although he is determined to take her life (V.ii.4). Othello's allusion to Prometheus explains his wish to put out Desdemona's light in order to restore her former innocence; even when the act of murder is drawing near, Othello seems intent upon dwelling in beautiful images and poetic metaphors to hide the ugliness and wrongness of his deed. And where before Othello felt only hatred and anger, now he is forced to feel his love, along with his determination to see Desdemona die.

Here, Desdemona learns too late of the trap that was set for her with the handkerchief; this symbol of her love has come back to condemn her, just as all her protestations of her love and devotion for Othello do not soften his resolve to kill her. Othello refers to the belief of the time, that to die with all one's sins repented of meant that the soul was saved for heaven; that he asks Desdemona if she has prayed, and urges her to do so if she hasn't, shows a strange kind of mercy. But Othello takes Desdemona's cries for mercy, and her remorse at Cassio's misfortune, as proof of her indiscretion; although his rage is tempered, he is still set on having her dead.

Othello's reaction after smothering Desdemona shows an even greater rift between his resolve and his emotion. He does not want to admit that Desdemona is dead; he speaks to her, ponders her stillness, and seems hysterical. He is also grieved by this action; "methinks it should be now a huge eclipse of sun and moon," he says, referring back to the light/dark imagery of the play to communicate how unsettled and unhinged he feels (V.ii.97-98).

Desdemona's last words are especially cryptic; when asked who killed her, she remarks, "nobody, I myselfŠ...Commend me to my kind lord" (V.ii.123). Taking into account her resigned behavior before her death, she might be trying to absolve her husband of blame with her last breath, or trying to express her love for the one who has killed her. If this is so, it certainly does not sit well with her line, "falsely, falsely murdered," which seems to refer both to Desdemona's death, and to Emilia's mention of the death of Roderigo and wounding of Cassio (V.ii.116). However, Desdemona's goodness is a beacon in the play, and must remain unsullied - even beyond reason - if the full gravity of the play is to be achieved. Modern interpretations of Desdemona may find fault with her resignation, but here she is a tool of tragedy.

Othello's reaction upon Desdemona's death is a mixture of shock, hysterics, and anger. The greatest irony of the play is that it is only after killing Desdemona that Othello learns the truth about her; he finds out that she was blameless, and that Iago was manipulating him into believing otherwise. Still, even after the murder is exposed, Othello cannot let go of the idea that Desdemona really did cheat on him; but his fixation on the handkerchief is ended when Emilia reveals how the token was used to make him believe in the affair.

Emilia's fate is parallel to Desdemona's; although she was less naive than Desdemona, she too was betrayed by her husband. Desdemona might be a more central figure, but Emilia is the play's conscience; she makes Othello finally feel remorse for his act, and undoes some of the damage that Iago's allegations wrought, which not even Desdemona was able to allay. Emilia knows, almost as well as her husband, how human nature works; she knows of husbands' jealousies, of how men believe women are less human, and that people are naturally prone to folly. She is the sole voice of reason in the play, the only person besides Desdemona who is uncorrupted by Iago's manipulations.

At last, Othello's grief comes to its fruition, as his reason and speech are finally fully restored. "Roast me in sulfur! Wash me in steep-down gulfs of molten fire!" Othello laments, the images of pain and torment reflecting the feelings which are coming over him (V.ii.278-279). He juxtaposes heaven and hell to explain his despair, and the virtue he knows again that Desdemona did possess. But though Othello has some sense again, he still wounds Iago; this act seems to be done as a distraction of his pain, and makes Othello's character seem even more deeply flawed.

Othello insists that he is an "honorable murderer", but he is driven to kill out of his own shortcomings (V.ii.293). Although his beautiful language and his remorse make him seem noble again, Othello still denies the character flaws that have led him to this end. Iago was definitely the catalyst for Desdemona's death and Othello's jealous rages; but the seeds of jealousy and suspicion were already inherent in Othello, and only had to be coaxed forth. It certainly makes the resolution of the play more neat to believe that Othello is returned to his nobility; but, since he still denies the deep wrong he has committed, and his own part in this dirty act, he cannot be fully redeemed or forgiven.

Of course, all threads are wrapped up in this last scene of the play; letters are produced that expose Iago's part in these unfortunate events, even though these letters have not been mentioned or shown earlier in the play. Cassio seems to have been kept alive merely to testify about his part in this whole debacle; and Lodovico and Gratiano are conveniently there as witnesses of the Venetian state, with Montano representing the law and order of Cyprus. Although the plot is brought to its conclusion in this last scene, there are still questions and issues to consider, especially in Othello's last speech.

Othello has always been concerned with his reputation and public image; this was one of his justifications for killing Desdemona. His last speech reveals that he is still fixated on this cause; "speak of me as I am," he tells them, yet there is great irony in this statement, since he goes on to misrepresent himself and his motives. He says that he is "not easily jealous," although it is apparent from Iago's first insinuations that he is very jealous and possessive of his wife. He also says he is one who "drops tears as fast as the Arabian trees their med'cinable gum"; however, Othello found it difficult to be sorry for killing his wife, until he found out that his motives were wrong (V.ii.341-350).

This last speech is filled with heroic language; he reduces his foul, treacherous murder to "[throwing] a pearl away richer than all his tribe," a beautiful metaphor (though laden with racist overtones) that hardly does justice to the brutality and cruelty of Othello's behavior (V.ii.346). Othello tries to die with honor and some reputation intact; but his speech shows that his preoccupation with his image is still keeping him from the truth, as is his penchant for storytelling. Still, Othello is uniquely human, like Hamlet; his flaws and follies make him a compelling tragic figure, and his more noble aspects make him sympathetic. Although Iago steals most of the spotlight during the play, in the end, the tragedy is Othello's; it is his pain, folly, and misfortune which reverberate, and make this drama so compelling and so telling of human nature.

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