The time is a period between 1489 and 1571.

On a Venetian street, Iago tells the gullible Roderigo, a gentleman of the city, that Cassio is untested in battle and that his soldierly abilities consist of “mere prattle, without practise” (1.1.28).

A year later, it was printed in the , the first authorized collection of Shakespeare's plays.

But in doing so, the Duke obliquely denigrates Othello because of his race—apparently unintentionally, in a Freudian slip—telling Brabantio, “Your son-in-law is more fair than black” (1.3.311), implying that fairness is superior to blackness.

Bitter, vengeful, and madly jealous, he vows to kill his wife.

No English translation of the Giraldi story was available in Shakespeare's time.

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Othello tells her all is well, and they go off to bed.

It is interesting to note that Venice is a setting in both major Shakespeare plays dealing in part with racial prejudice, and .

As one of the world’s leading sea powers, Venice was a center of commercialism and materialism and, therefore, of corruption and conflict arising from avarice, social status, and fierce competition.

Montano is led away for treatment of his injury.

Iago is the antagonist, or opponent of the main character.
: Daughter of Brabantio, wife of Othello, and victim of Iago's machinations and Othello's jealousy.

Cassio, now alone with Iago, says he regrets his behavior.

On the other, it is his alleged (but nonexistent) love affair with Desdemona that arouses Othello's jealousy.
: Ruler who finds in favor of Othello when Desdemona's father attacks Othello's character, saying the black Moor is unworthy of his daughter.
: Venetian senator and father of Desdemona.

After all, Cassio is far younger than Othello—and terribly handsome.

Brabantio dies in Venice while Othello and Desdemona are in Cyprus.
: Brabantio's brother.
: Brabantio's kinsman, who carries a message from the duke to Othello while the latter is in Cyprus.

Othello had given it to his wife as a gift.

Pledging to help him win Desdemona, Iago tricks Roderigo into giving him his money and ensnares him in a plot that results in Roderigo's death.
: Othello's predecessor as the governor of Cyprus.
: Servant to Othello.
: Wife of Iago.

Kind-hearted Desdemona praises Cassio.

She is blind to his evil until she discovers that it was he who plotted against Othello and Desdemona.
: A prostitute who has fallen in love with Cassio during his visits.