Othello: "Alas Iagao, what shall I do..."

Othello: "Alas Iagao, what shall I do..."

Royal Shakespeare Company

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In Act 4, Scene 2 of Shakespeare's Othello, Othello confronts Desdemona, accusing her of infidelity. In a private conversation, he harshly berates her, calling her a ''whore'' and threatening to banish her. As Othello exits, Desdemona's maid, Emilia, tentatively shares her suspicions that Desdemona is being set up, but her concerns are swiftly dismissed by Iago. Desperate and confused, Desdemona turns to Iago for advice, unaware that he is the one behind the malicious rumors.

In this poignant monologue, Desdemona pleads with Iago, asking, ''What can I do to win my husband back?'' She passionately protests her innocence, insisting she has done nothing to betray Othello's trust. Dropping to her knees in a dramatic moment of prayer, she confesses that, despite his cruelty, she will always love him, declaring, ''his unkindness may kill me, But it will never ruin my love for him.'' Iago, feigning sympathy, attempts to comfort her.

This scene is charged with raw emotion and urgency, making it a popular choice for dramatic auditions. Shakespeare masterfully portrays Desdemona's virtuous and loving nature, eliciting the audience's sympathy and setting the stage for her tragic fate. Additionally, the scene exposes the true evil of Iago. While the audience knows he is the architect of Desdemona's suffering, they are forced to watch as he manipulates her, feigning support while plotting her downfall.

In Iqbal Khan’s 2015 production of Othello with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Joanna Vanderham expertly captures Desdemona's desperation in this heart-wrenching scene.

Cast & Crew

(Director), Joanna Vanderham (Desdemona), (Writer)

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