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Othello

Written by William Shakespeare Retold by Sally Prue Illustrated by Adrian Stone

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Cast of characters Othello: general of the Venetian army Cassio: Othello’s second-in-command

Roderigo: a young nobleman

Desdemona: Othello’s wife

Iago: Othello’s personal assistant, married to Emilia

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Brabantio: Desdemona’s father

Lodovico: Desdemona’s cousin Montano: governor of Cyprus Duke of Venice: ruler of Venice

Emilia: Desdemona’s servant

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Bianca: a peasant girl

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Chapter 1 The silence of the night-time streets of Venice was suddenly pierced by a howl of despair. “But why didn’t you tell me?” “Because I didn’t know, Roderigo.” “But … but I gave you lots of money! And you said you really hated General Othello!” “Well, I do hate Othello. Of course I do. Especially now he’s made that fool Cassio, who’s never even smelt an enemy soldier, his second-in-command. And what job has he given me? Me, Iago, the warrior of Rhodes? Flipping personal assistant!”

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“Well, you should’ve resigned, then,” said Roderigo. “Yes, if I didn’t mind starving. Ah well, at least now I’m well-placed to make some serious money out of Othello. That’s something.” “But what about me?” wailed Roderigo. “Desdemona’s run off with Othello – and I love Desdemona so much!” “All right, I’ll tell you what we’ll do. We’ll go and wake up Desdemona’s father. Brabantio will move heaven and earth to bring his daughter safely home. Come on!”

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Chapter 2 “Who’s making all that noise?” demanded an angry voice from a high window. “Go and take your rowdy shouting somewhere else!” “Signor Brabantio? It’s Roderigo!” “Is it, indeed? Well, I’ve told you before, Desdemona’s not marrying you: so go away!” “But, sir – ” “You’ll regret it if you annoy me, Roderigo. Don’t forget I’m an important man.” Iago cut in hastily from his place in the shadows. “Sir, your daughter’s run away. You must go and find her at once or she’ll be married to General Othello, and then it’ll be too late.” “Stuff and nonsense!” “No,” said Roderigo, summoning all the courage he had. “Desdemona really has run away, sir. Search her room, and if she’s there, arrest me.”

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Brabantio suddenly seemed to register what Roderigo was saying. “Desdemona, gone?” he muttered. He turned away from the window and began shouting for lights and servants. Iago gripped Roderigo’s arm. “I must go,” he said. “If I’m spotted here, I’ll get the sack. Listen, Othello’s rented a place in Sagittary Street, so lead Brabantio there. I’ll be with him.” By the time Brabantio flung open his door, Iago had vanished. “She’s gone!” Brabantio shouted, angry and afraid. “Othello’s lured her away. Oh, Roderigo, even marrying you would’ve been better than this! Where can she be?” “I think I might know, sir.” “Then we must hurry. Come on, you men! Get your weapons! Quick!”

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Chapter 3 “My trouble is that I’m too soft,” Iago was saying to Othello, a little later, as they walked along Sagittary Street. “I should’ve stabbed that Brabantio right through the heart.” “No, Iago, much better not.” “You didn’t hear what he was saying about you. Still, the secret marriage plan’s worked all right, that’s the main thing. I’m afraid Brabantio will still cause trouble, though – and he’s got some high-up friends.”

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“Well, I have some royal blood, Iago, so I should manage. In any case, I’m worth more to Venice than Brabantio is.” Othello suddenly smiled. “Anyway, whatever happens to me – even prison – it’ll be worth it for Desdemona.” The shadows around them began to quiver as torches came into view along the dark street. “That’s probably Brabantio now,” observed Iago. “You’d better hide.” “No, Iago. I have to face him some time.” “Hang on, though,” said Iago, peering through the darkness. “That’s not Brabantio, that’s Cassio! What’s he doing here?” Cassio was out of breath with hurrying. “There’s urgent news from Cyprus, sir,” Cassio told Othello. “The duke’s called a council meeting. He’s sent out three search parties looking for you.” “Well, here I am,” said Othello. “I’ll just tell Desdemona; then I’ll come.” Cassio looked curiously at Iago when Othello had left them. “What on earth’s the general been doing here?” “Getting married.” “Married?” But, before Iago could explain, another group of torches appeared along the street.

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“One of the other search parties,” guessed Cassio. “Yes,” said Iago, grimly, “but not one of the duke’s. Those are Brabantio’s men – and they’re not looking friendly, either.” Othello stepped back out of the house at that moment. Someone shouted, “There he is!” and there was the sound of swords being drawn. Cassio and Iago hastily drew their own swords, but Othello put himself swiftly between the two groups of men. “You’d better put all those swords away,” he remarked. “They’ll be getting rusty in this damp weather.” Brabantio came forward shaking with rage. “Arrest him!” he shouted. “He’s stolen my daughter!”

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