Othello, Moor of Venice
The following version of Othello,
Moor of Venice is based on the text in the authoritative
1914 Oxford Edition of Shakespeare's works, edited by W. J. Craig.
The Craig text numbers the lines, including those with stage
directions such as "Enter" and "Exit." The annotations (notes and
definitions) by Michael J. Cummings appear in brackets in
Black Moor who is the greatest army general in Venice. He
is intelligent, courageous, and honorable. His marriage to
beautiful Desdemona, the daughter of a prominent Venetian
senator, provokes racial slurs against him. But he carries
on with nobility and dignity as he commands an army bound
for Cyprus on a fleet of ships. After arriving, Othello
becomes the governor of Cyprus while continuing as the
general of the Venetian forces. His dedication to duty is
eclipsed only by his dedication to Desdemona, who follows
him to Cyprus. So passionately does he love her that he
cannot endure the thought of another man even looking at
her. And therein lies his Achilles' heel, jealousy.
Othello is the protagonist, or main character.
officer with the rank of ensign or—as the Venetian
soldiers often refer to him—ancient. He schemes against
Othello because the Moor promoted a younger man, Michael
Cassio, to the position of lieutenant, or
second-in-command, even though Iago has more combat
experience than Cassio. Iago is evil through and through,
taking great pleasure in executing his secret campaign to
bring down the great Othello and Cassio. 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. She is the
noblest and most unselfish character in the play.
Othello's lieutenant, or second-in-command. His promotion
to that rank enrages Iago, who wanted the position for
himself. Cassio is a hinge on which the play turns. On the
one hand, it is his promotion that arouses Iago's jealousy
and causes him to seek revenge against both Othello and
Cassio. On the other, it is his alleged (but nonexistent)
love affair with Desdemona that arouses Othello's
Duke of Venice:
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. He is a bigot
whose racism Iago exposes when the latter inflames him
with a prejudicial rant against Othello. Brabantio falsely
accuses Othello of using charms and magic to win his
daughter. Brabantio dies in Venice while Othello and
Desdemona are in Cyprus.
First Senator, Second Senator
Brabantio's kinsman, who carries a message from the duke
to Othello while the latter is in Cyprus. The message
orders Othello to return to Venice.
gentleman and former suitor of Desdemona. Pledging to help
him win Desdemona, Iago tricks Roderigo into giving him
his money and ensnares him in a plot that results in
predecessor as the governor of Cyprus.
Clown: Servant to
Emilia: Wife of
Iago. She is blind to his evil until she discovers that it
was he who plotted against Othello and Desdemona.
prostitute who has fallen in love with Cassio during his
visits. He tells her he will marry her even though he has
no intention of doing so.
Sailor, messenger, herald, officers, gentlemen, musicians,
Act 1, Scene 1: Venice. A street.
Act 1, Scene 2: Venice. Another
Act 1, Scene 3. A council chamber.
The Duke and Senators sitting at a table. Officers attending.
Act 2, Scene 1: A seaport town in
Cyprus. An open place near the quay.
Act 2, Scene 2: A street in the
Act 2, Scene 3: A hall in the castle
where Othello and other Venetians lodge.
Act 3, Scene 1: Cyprus. Before the
Act 3, Scene 2: A room in the
Act 3, Scene 3: Before the castle.
Act 3, Scene 4: Before the castle.
Act 4, Scene 1: Cyprus. Before the
Act 4, Scene 2: A room in the
Act 4, Scene 3: Another room in the
Act 5, Scene 1: Cyprus. A street.
Act 5, Scene 2: A bedchamber in the
castle. Desdemona in bed asleep. A light burning.
Act 1, Scene 1
Venice. A street.
Enter RODERIGO and IAGO.
RODERIGO: Tush! Never tell me; I take it much
That thou, Iago, who hast had [used;
dipped into] my purse
As if the strings were thine, shouldst know of
IAGO: ’Sblood [by the
blood of the crucified Christ], but you will not hear
If ever I did dream of such a matter,
RODERIGO: Thou told’st me thou didst hold him [Othello] in thy
IAGO: Despise me if I do not. Three great ones of the
In personal suit to make me his lieutenant [second in command],
Off-capp’d to him [approached
him respectfully and took off their hats to him]; and, by
the faith of man,
I know my price, I am worth no worse a place;
But he, as loving his own pride and purposes,
Evades them, with a bombast circumstance
Horribly stuff’d with epithets of war;
[a bombast . . . war: A torrent
of fancy phrases that included military words]
And, in conclusion,
Nonsuits [rejects; ignores]
my mediators; for, ‘Certes,’ ["certainly,"]
‘I have already chose my officer.’
And what was he?
Forsooth [truly], a great
arithmetician [student of
military tactics and battlefield statistics],
One Michael Cassio, a Florentine [resident
of Florence, Italy],
A fellow almost damn’d in a fair wife;
[almost . . . wife: Almost ready
to marry a fair woman]
That never set a squadron in the field,
Nor the division of a battle knows
More than a spinster; unless the bookish
Wherein the toged consuls can propose
As masterly as he: mere prattle, without practice,
[That never . . . practice: He
never led soldiers onto the field of battle and does not know
how to array troops any more than a spinster does. His only
knowledge of battle comes from book learning (bookish theoric). Politcal advisers wearing
togas can do as much. (The reference to men wearing togas is an
allusion to some ancient Roman senators who gave advice about
waging war but did not themselves go to war.) Cassio is
all talk but no action (mere prattle, without practice)].
Is all his soldiership. But he, sir, had the election [was promoted];
And I—of whom his eyes had seen the proof
At Rhodes, at Cyprus, and on other grounds
Christian and heathen—must be be-lee’d and calm’d
[be-lee'd: Placed on the side of
a ship, mountain, wall, etc. where the wind is not blowing.
Here, Iago is saying that he was placed away from the current of
By debitor and creditor; this counter-caster [mere novice inexperienced at war],
He, in good time, must his lieutenant be,
And I—God bless the mark!—his Moorship’s ancient [Othello's third-in-command].
RODERIGO: By heaven, I rather would have been his
IAGO: Why, there’s no remedy: ’tis the curse of the
Preferment goes by letter and affection,
Not by the old gradation [years
of service; seniority; experience], where each
Stood heir to the first. Now, sir, be judge
Whe’r [whether] I in any
just term am affin’d [bound;
To love the Moor.
RODERIGO: I would not follow him then.
IAGO: O! sir, content you;
I follow him to serve my turn [revenge]
We cannot all be masters, nor all masters
Cannot be truly follow’d. You shall mark
Many a duteous and knee-crooking knave,
[knee-crooking knave: One who
kneels before another to gain some advantage]
That, doting on his own obsequious bondage,
Wears out his time, much like his master’s ass,
For nought but provender, and when he’s old,
[For nought . . . cashier'd: For
nothing but food or other necessities. And when he's discharged
Whip me such honest knaves. Others there are
Who, trimm’d in forms and visages of duty,
Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves,
And, throwing but shows of service on their
[throwing . . . lords: Pretending
to serve their lords]
Do well thrive by them, and when they have lin’d their
Do themselves homage: these fellows have some
And such a one do I profess myself. For, sir,
It is as sure as you are Roderigo,
Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago:
In following him, I follow but myself;
Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so, for my peculiar [personal;
For when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart
In compliment extern [in an
outward display], ’tis not long after
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.
[I am . . . am: I am not the
innocent, easygoing person that people think I am.]
RODERIGO: What a full fortune [good luck] does the thick-lips [racial slur referring to Othello]
If he can carry ’t thus! [if
he can get away with his plans!]
IAGO: Call up her father;
Rouse him, make after him, poison his delight,
Proclaim him in the streets, incense her
And, though he in a fertile climate dwell,
Plague him with flies; though that his joy be
Yet throw such changes of vexation on ’t
As it may lose some colour [may
fade; may tarnish].
RODERIGO: Here is her father’s house; I’ll call
IAGO: Do; with like timorous [timid] accent and dire [desperate; urgent] yell
As when, by night and negligence, the fire
Is spied in populous cities.
RODERIGO: What, ho! Brabantio! Signior [Mister] Brabantio,
IAGO: Awake! what, ho! Brabantio! thieves! thieves!
Look to your house, your daughter, and your bags [moneybags]!
Enter BRABANTIO, above, at a window.
BRABANTIO: What is the reason of this terrible
What is the matter there?
RODERIGO: Signior, is all your family
IAGO: Are your doors lock’d?
BRABANTIO: Why? wherefore [for
what purpose; why] ask you this?
IAGO: ’Zounds! [By the
wounds of the crucified Christ!] sir, you’re
robb’d; forshame, put on your gown;
Your heart is burst, you have lost half your
Even now, now, very now, an old black ram [Othello]
Is tupping [having sex with]
your white ewe [Brabantio's
daughter, Desdemona]. Arise, arise!
Awake the snorting [snoring]
citizens with the bell,
Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you.
Arise, I say.
BRABANTIO: What! have you lost your wits?
RODERIGO: Most reverend signior, do you know my
BRABANTIO: Not I, what are you?
RODERIGO: My name is Roderigo.
BRABANTIO: The worser welcome:
I have charg’d thee not to haunt about my doors:
In honest plainness thou hast heard me say
My daughter is not for thee; and now, in
Being full of supper and distempering draughts [drafts of liquor],
Upon malicious knavery dost thou come
To start [disturb; interrupt]
RODERIGO: Sir, sir, sir!
BRABANTIO: But thou must needs be sure
My spirit and my place have in them power
To make this bitter to thee.
RODERIGO: Patience, good sir.
BRABANTIO: What tell’st thou me of robbing? this is
My house is not a grange [remote
RODERIGO: Most grave Brabantio,
In simple and pure soul I come to you.
IAGO: ’Zounds! sir, you are one of those that will not
serve God if the devil bid you. Because we come to do you service
and you think we are ruffians, you’ll have your daughter covered
with a Barbary [north African]
horse; you’ll have your nephews neigh to you; you’ll have coursers
[horses] for cousins and
gennets [another word for
jennets, female donkeys] for germans [relatives].
BRABANTIO: What profane wretch art thou?
IAGO: I am one, sir, that comes to tell you, your daughter
and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs [a man and a woman copulating].
BRABANTIO: Thou art a villain.
IAGO: You are—a senator.
BRABANTIO: This thou shalt answer; I know thee,
RODERIGO: Sir, I will answer any thing. But, I beseech
If ’t be your pleasure and most wise consent,—
As partly, I find, it is,—that your fair
At this odd-even and dull-watch o’ the night,
[odd-even . . . night: midnight]
Transported with no worse nor better guard
But with a knave of common hire, a gondolier,
To the gross clasps of a lascivious Moor,—
If this be known to you, and your allowance,
[and . . . allowance: And
has your approval]
We then have done you bold and saucy wrongs;
But if you know not this, my manners tell me
We have your wrong rebuke [you
are wrong to rebuke us]. Do not
That, from the sense of all civility,
I thus would play and trifle with your
Your daughter, if you have not given her leave,
I say again, hath made a gross revolt;
[hath . . . revolt: Has openly
rebelled against you]
Tying her duty, beauty, wit and fortunes
In an extravagant and wheeling stranger
[extravagant . . . stranger:
Aimless, drifting stranger]
Of here and every where. Straight satisfy
If she be in her chamber or your house,
Let loose on me the justice of the state
For thus deluding you.
BRABANTIO: Strike on the tinder [combustible
material used before the invention of matches],
Give me a taper! call up all my people!
This accident is not unlike my dream;
Belief of it oppresses me already.
Light, I say! light! [Exit, from above.
IAGO: Farewell, for I must leave you:
It seems not meet nor wholesome to my place
To be produc’d, as, if I stay, I shall,
Against the Moor; for, I do know the state,
However this may gall him
with some check,
Cannot with safety cast him; for he’s embark’d
With such loud reason to the Cyprus wars,—
Which even now stand in act,—that, for their
[It seems . . . stand in act:
It seems unwise and risky for me
to remain here to be produced as an accuser of Othello; for I
know that the government—even though Othello will suffer
embarrassment and rebuke—will not dismiss him from service at a
time when Venice is planning to do battle in Cyprus in a war
which even now is about to begin.]
Another of his fathom [depth fo
experience] they have none,
To lead their business; in which regard,
Though I do hate him as I do hell-pains,
Yet, for necessity of present life,
I must show out a flag and sign of love,
[Yet . . . . love: Yet, under the
circumstances, I will pretend to support him.]
Which is indeed but sign. That you shall surely find
Lead to the Sagittary the raised search;
[That you . . . search: You will
surely find him if you look for him at the Saggitary, a
gathering place such as a tavern.]
And there will I be with him. So, farewell.
Enter below, BRABANTIO, and Servants with torches.
BRABANTIO: It is too true an evil: gone she
And what’s to come of my despised time
Is nought [nothing] but
bitterness. Now, Roderigo,
Where didst thou see her? O, unhappy girl!
With the Moor, sayst thou? Who would be a
How didst thou know ’twas she? O, she deceives
Past thought. What said she to you? Get more
Raise all my kindred! Are they married, think
RODERIGO: Truly, I think they are.
BRABANTIO: O heaven! How got she out? O, treason of the
Fathers, from hence trust not your daughters’
By what you see them act. Are there not charms
By which the property of youth and maidhood
May be abus’d? Have you not read, Roderigo,
Of some such thing?
[Are there . . . thing?: Are
there not magic tricks that can make young men and women do
strange things? Have you not read, Roderigo, about such things?]
RODERIGO: Yes, sir, I have indeed.
BRABANTIO: Call up my brother. O! that you had had her.
[O! . . . her: O! that you were
her fiancé (or husband).]
Some one way, some another! [Some
of you searchers go one way, some another.] Do you
Where we may apprehend her and the Moor?
RODERIGO: I think I can discover him, if you
To get good guard and go along with me.
BRABANTIO: Pray you, lead on. At every house I’ll
I may command at most. [I may
command (get) attention and support at most houses.] Get
And raise some special officers of night.
On, good Roderigo; I’ll deserve [reward
you for] your pains. [Exeunt.
Act 1, Scene 2
Enter OTHELLO, IAGO, and Attendants, with torches.
IAGO: Though in the trade of war I have slain
Yet do I hold it very stuff o’ the conscience
To do no contriv’d [premeditated]
murder: I lack iniquity
Sometimes to do me service. Nine or ten times
[I lack . . . service: I
sometimes lack the brutality required to complete an unsavory
I had thought to have yerk’d [stabbed]
here under the ribs.
OTHELLO: ’Tis better as it is.
IAGO: Nay, but he prated,
And spoke such scurvy and provoking terms
Against your honour
That, with the little godliness I have,
I did full hard forbear him. But, I pray, sir,
Are you fast married? Be assur’d of this,
That the magnifico [respected
citizen—in this case, Brabantio] is much
And hath in his effect a voice potential
As double as [twice as
influential as] the duke’s; he will divorce you [divorce you from his daughter],
Or put upon you what restraint and grievance
The law—with all his might to enforce it on—
Will give him cable [rope;
OTHELLO: Let him do his spite:
My services which I have done the signiory [the nation; the state of Venice]
Shall out-tongue [outargue;
overcome] his complaints. ’Tis yet to
Which when I know that boasting is an honour
I shall promulgate, I fetch my life and being
From men of royal siege, and my demerits
May speak unbonneted to as proud a fortune
As this that I have reach’d; for know, Iago,
But that I love the gentle Desdemona,
I would not my unhoused free condition
Put into circumscription and confine
For the sea’s worth. But, look! what lights come yond?
['Tis yet . . . yond: No one
knows what I am about to tell you. I will continue to withhold
this information from the public until it becomes honorable to
boast. Here is what I have to say. I come from royal blood. I
may speak unabashedly that my character and standing make me
worthy of Brabantio's daughter, gentle Desdemona. I would not
for all the world risk the wrath of those who look down on me if
I did not love her.]
IAGO: Those are the raised [wakened] father and his
You were best go in.
OTHELLO: Not I; I must be found:
My parts, my title, and my perfect soul
Shall manifest me rightly. Is it they?
IAGO: By Janus, I think no.
[Janus: In Roman mythology, the
god of gates, doorways, bridges, and other passageways and of
Enter CASSIO and certain Officers, with torches.
OTHELLO: The servants of the duke, and my
The goodness of the night upon you, friends!
What is the news?
CASSIO: The duke does greet you, general,
And he requires your haste-post-haste [immediate] appearance,
Even on the instant.
OTHELLO: What is the matter, think you?
CASSIO: Something from Cyprus, as I may
It is a business of some heat [concern];
the galleys [warships propelled
by oars and sails]
Have sent a dozen sequent [following
one after the other] messengers
This very night at one another’s heels,
And many of the consuls, rais’d [awakened]
Are at the duke’s already. You have been hotly call’d
When, being not at your lodging to be found,
The senate hath sent about three several quests
To search you out.
OTHELLO: ’Tis well I am found by you.
I will but spend a word here in the house,
And go with you. [Exit.
CASSIO: Ancient [ensign, a
rank below that of lieutenant], what makes he
IAGO: Faith, he to-night hath boarded a land
If it prove lawful prize, he’s made for ever.
[land carrack: Large merchant
ship laden with valuables. It appears that land carrack refers figuratively to Desdemona,
CASSIO: I do not understand.
IAGO: He’s married.
CASSIO: To who?
IAGO: Marry, to—Come, captain, will you
OTHELLO: Have with you [Yes,
I will go. Lead the way].
CASSIO: Here comes another troop to seek for
IAGO: It is Brabantio. General, be
He comes to bad intent.
Enter BRABANTIO, RODERIGO, and Officers, with torches and weapons.
OTHELLO: Holla! [A shout
to gain attention; hey you!] stand
RODERIGO: Signior, it is the Moor.
BRABANTIO: Down with him, thief! [They draw on both
IAGO: You, Roderigo! come, sir, I am for
OTHELLO: Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust
Good signior, you shall more command with years
Than with your weapons.
[you shall . . . weapons: You
shall gain more respect from your advancing years than from your
BRABANTIO: O thou foul thief! where hast thou stow’d my
Damn’d as thou art, thou hast enchanted her;
For I’ll refer me to all things of sense,
If she in chains of magic were not bound,
Whether a maid so tender, fair, and happy,
So opposite to marriage that she shunn’d
The wealthy curled darlings of our nation,
Would ever have, to incur a general mock,
Run from her guardage to the sooty bosom
Of such a thing as thou; to fear, not to delight.
[For I'll . . . delight: Common
sense tells me that you must have bound her in chains of magic.
Otherwise, such a fair and happy young maid, who has already
refused the attentions of many suitors, would never have run
from those who watch over her to a black man such as you. You
are a man to fear, not to take delight in.]
Judge me the world, if ’tis not gross in sense
That thou hast practis’d on her with foul
Abus’d her delicate youth with drugs or minerals
That weaken motion: I’ll have ’t disputed on;
[Judge . . . disputed on: Let the
whole world judge me if I am wrong. But it is clear to me that
you must have used foul magic and drugs or minerals to woo my
daughter and break down her resistance. I'll have this case
disputed in a court of law.]
’Tis probable, and palpable to thinking.
I therefore apprehend and do attach thee
For an abuser of the world, a practiser
Of arts inhibited and out of warrant.
[out of warrant: Unlawfu]
Lay hold upon him: if he do resist,
Subdue him at his peril.
OTHELLO: Hold your hands,
Both you of my inclining, and the rest:
[Hold . . . rest: Keep back, all
of you who would subdue me.]
Were it my cue to fight, I should have known it
Without a prompter. Where will you that I go [Where should I go]
To answer this your charge?
BRABANTIO: To prison; till fit time
Of law and course of direct session
[course . . . session: Trial in a
Call thee to answer.
OTHELLO: What if I do obey?
How may the duke be there with [therewith]
Whose messengers are here about my side,
Upon some present business of the state
To bring me to him?
OFFICER: ’Tis true, most worthy signior;
The duke’s in council, and your noble self,
I am sure, is sent for.
BRABANTIO: How! the duke in council!
In this time of the night! Bring him away.
Mine’s not an idle [unimportant]
cause: the duke himself,
Or any of my brothers of the state,
Cannot but feel this wrong as ’twere their own;
For if such actions may have passage free,
[may . . . free: Have free reign;
Bond-slaves and pagans shall our statesmen be.
Act 1, Scene 3
A Council Chamber. The
DUKE and Senators sitting at a table. Officers attending.
DUKE: There is no composition [consistency] in these news [messenger reports]
That gives them credit.
FIRST SENATOR: Indeed, they are disproportion’d;
My letters say a hundred and seven galleys.
DUKE: And mine, a hundred and forty.
SECOND SENATOR: And mine, two hundred:
But though they jump [agree] not on a just account [estimate of the number of galleys],—
As in these cases, where the aim [intelligence]
’Tis oft with difference,—yet do they all confirm
A Turkish fleet, and bearing up to [heading toward] Cyprus.
DUKE: Nay, it is possible enough to judgment:
I do not so secure me in the error,
But the main article I do approve
In fearful sense.
[Nay, it . . . sense: I can make
this judgment, though: the differences in the reports do not
make me feel secure. Instead, they put me on guard. We may well
have something to fear from the Turks.]
SAILOR: [Within.] What, ho! what, ho! what,
OFFICER: A messenger from the galleys.
Enter a Sailor.
DUKE: Now, what’s the business?
SAILOR: The Turkish preparation makes for
So was I bid report here to the state
By Signior Angelo.
DUKE: How say you by this change?
FIRST SENATOR: This cannot be,
By no assay [test] of
reason; ’tis a pageant [ploy;
To keep us in false gaze [to
trick us]. When we consider
The importancy [importance]
of Cyprus to the Turk,
And let ourselves again but understand,
That as it more concerns the Turk than Rhodes,
So may he with more facile question bear it,
For that it stands not in such war-like brace,
But altogether lacks the abilities
That Rhodes is dress’d in: if we make thought of this,
We must not think the Turk is so unskilful
To leave that latest which concerns him first,
Neglecting an attempt of ease and gain,
To wake and wage a danger profitless.
[That as . . . profitless: The
Turks are more interested in Cyprus than in Rhodes. Moreover,
Cyprus is more vulnerable than Rhodes. Therefore, it makes no
sense to think that the Turks are stupid enough to attack Rhodes
in a profitless campaign. They mean to attack Cyprus.]
DUKE: Nay, in all confidence, he’s not for
OFFICER: Here is more news.
Enter a Messenger.
MESSENGER: The Ottomites [Turks],
reverend and gracious,
Steering with due course toward the isle of Rhodes,
Have there injointed them with an after fleet.
[injointed . . . fleet: Joined
with another fleet.]
FIRST SENATOR: Ay, so I thought. How many, as you
MESSENGER: Of thirty sail; and now they do re-stem [resume]
Their backward course, bearing with frank appearance
[with frank appearance: With no
attempt to hide their movement]
Their purposes toward Cyprus. Signior Montano,
Your trusty and most valiant servitor [servant],
With his free duty recommends you thus,
And prays you to believe him.
[With his . . . him: Dutifully
sends you his regards and prays that you believe his report]
DUKE: ’Tis certain then, for Cyprus.
Marcus Luccicos, is not he in town?
FIRST SENATOR: He’s now in Florence.
DUKE: Write from us to him; post-post-haste dispatch [immediately].
FIRST SENATOR: Here comes Brabantio and the valiant
Enter BRABANTIO, OTHELLO, IAGO, RODERIGO, and Officers.
DUKE: Valiant Othello, we must straight employ
Against the general enemy Ottoman [the Ottoman Empire, ruled by the Turks].
[To BRABANTIO.] I did not see you; welcome, gentle
We lack’d your counsel and your help to-night.
BRABANTIO: So did I yours. Good your grace, pardon
Neither my place nor aught [anything]
I heard of business
Hath rais’d me from my bed, nor doth the general care
Take hold of me, for my particular grief
Is of so flood-gate and o’erbearing nature
That it engluts and swallows other sorrows
And it is still itself.
DUKE: Why, what’s the matter?
BRABANTIO: My daughter! O! my daughter.
DUKE and SENATOR: Dead?
BRABANTIO: Ay, to me;
She is abus’d, stol’n from me, and corrupted
By spells and medicines bought of mountebanks;
For nature so preposterously to err,
Being not deficient, blind, or lame of sense,
Sans [without] witchcraft
DUKE: Whoe’er he be that in this foul proceeding
Hath thus beguil’d your daughter of herself
[beguil'd . . . herself: bewitched your daughter so that she is
not her true self]
And you of her, the bloody book of law
You shall yourself read in the bitter letter
After your own sense; yea, though our proper son
Stood in your action.
[the bloody . . . action: You
yourself shall pass sentence on him. I would allow you to take
such action even if my own son were the offender.]
BRABANTIO: Humbly I thank your Grace.
Here is the man, this Moor; whom now, it seems,
Your special mandate for the state affairs,
Hath hither brought.
DUKE and SENATOR: We are very sorry for it.
DUKE: [To OTHELLO.] What, in your own part, can you
say to this?
BRABANTIO: Nothing, but this is so.
OTHELLO: Most potent, grave, and reverend
My very noble and approv’d good masters,
That I have ta’en away this old man’s daughter,
It is most true; true, I have married her:
The very head and front of my offending
Hath this extent, no more. Rude am I in my speech,
And little bless’d with the soft phrase of peace;
[Rude . . . peace: My speech has
a rough edge and is little adept at forming soft phrases of
For since these arms of mine had seven years’ pith,
Till now some nine moons wasted, they have us’d
Their dearest action in the tented field;
And little of this great
world can I speak,
More than pertains to feats of broil and battle;
And therefore little shall I grace my cause
In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious
I will a round unvarnish’d tale deliver
Of my whole course of love; what drugs, what charms,
What conjuration, and what mighty magic,
For such proceeding I am charg’d withal,
I won his daughter.
[since these arms. . . his
daughter: From the time that I was seven years old—when my arms
had the muscle (pith) of a boy of that age—till about nine
months ago, I have used my arms to wage war on the the
battlefield. Consequently, I cannot speak with authority about
this great world unless the subject is warfare. Therefore, I
probably won't help myself by speaking in defense of myself.
Nevertheless, I will tell you the story of how I won Brabantio's
daughter and comment on the charge that I used drugs, charms,
BRABANTIO: A maiden never bold;
Of spirit so still and quiet, that her motion
Blush’d at herself; and she, in spite of nature,
Of years, of country, credit, every thing,
To fall in love with what she fear’d to look on!
[and she, in spite . . . look on:
It is ridiculous to think that my daughter—with her gentle
nature, youth, upbringing as a Venetian, and sterling
reputation—could fall in love with such a ghastly creature as
It is a judgment maim’d and most imperfect
That will confess perfection [Desdemona]
so could err
Against all rules of nature, and must be driven
To find out practices of cunning hell,
Why this should be. I therefore vouch [charge; declare] again
That with some mixtures powerful o’er the blood,
Or with some dram conjur’d to this effect,
He wrought upon [worked upon]
DUKE: To vouch [attest to]
this, is no proof,
Without more certain and more overt test
Than these thin habits and poor likelihoods
Of modern seeming do prefer against him.
[thin . . . seeming: Weak
accusations, charges, and suspicions]
FIRST SENATOR: But, Othello, speak:
Did you by indirect and forced courses
Subdue and poison this young maid’s affections;
Or came it by request and such fair question
As soul to soul affordeth?
OTHELLO: I do beseech you,
Send for the lady to the Sagittary,
And let her speak of me before her father:
If you do find me foul in her report,
The trust, the office I do hold of you,
Not only take away, but let your sentence
Even fall upon my life.
DUKE: Fetch Desdemona hither.
OTHELLO: Ancient [Iago],
conduct them; you best know the place. [Exeunt IAGO and
And, till she come, as truly as to heaven
I do confess the vices of my blood,
So justly to your grave ears I’ll present
How I did thrive in this fair lady’s love,
And she in mine.
DUKE: Say it, Othello.
OTHELLO: Her father lov’d me; oft invited me [to his residence];
Still question’d me the story of my life
From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes
That I have pass’d [experienced].
I ran it through, even from my boyish days
To the very moment that he bade me tell it;
Wherein I spake [spoke]
of most disastrous chances [circumstances],
Of moving accidents [dangerous
adventures] by flood and field [on the ocean and in the field]
Of hair-breadth ’scapes [escapes]
i’ the imminent deadly breach [in
the face of death],
Of being taken by the insolent foe
And sold to slavery, of my redemption thence [and of my redemption from slavery]
And portance in my travel’s history;
[And portance . . . history: And
the way I comported myself in all of my ordeals]
Wherein of antres vast and desarts idle,
[Wherein . . . idle: Including
those in vast caves and desert wastelands]
Rough quarries, rocks and hills whose heads touch
It was my hint to speak, such was the process;
[It was . . . speak: On visits to
her father's home, I was expected to talk about my experiences.]
And of the Cannibals that each other eat,
The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads
Do grow beneath their shoulders. This to hear
Would Desdemona seriously incline;
But still the
house-affairs would draw her thence;
Which ever as she could with haste dispatch,
She’d come again, and with a greedy ear
Devour up my discourse. Which I observing,
Took once a pliant hour, and found good
To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart
That I would all my pilgrimage dilate,
Whereof by parcels she had something heard,
But not intentively: I did consent;
[And of the Cannibals. . . did
consent: I talked about cannibals called the Anthropophagi (An
thro POF uh gye) and about men whose heads grow beneath their
shoulders. Desdemona listened intently to my stories. Whenever a
household task required her attention, she would see to it and
then return with all
due haste to listen to
my tales. Once, when she returned after being away for an hour,
she begged me to fill her in on the parts of my narrative that
she missed. I did consent.]
And often did beguile her of her tears,
When I did speak of some distressful stroke
That my youth suffer’d. My story being done,
She gave me for my pains a world of sighs:
She swore, in faith, ’twas strange, ’twas passing
’Twas pitiful, ’twas wondrous pitiful:
She wish’d she had not heard it, yet she wish’d
That heaven had made her such a man [a man like me]; she thank’d me,
And bade me, if I had a friend that lov’d her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story,
And that would woo her. Upon this hint I spake:
She lov’d me for the dangers I had pass’d,
And I lov’d her that she did pity [feel so deeply about] them.
This only is the witchcraft I have us’d:
Here comes the lady; let her witness it.
Enter DESDEMONA, IAGO, and Attendants.
DUKE: I think this tale would win my daughter
Take up this mangled matter at the best;
Men do their broken weapons rather use
Than their bare hands.
[Take up . . .hands: Consider
this matter in a better light. Try to make the best of what has
come to pass.]
BRABANTIO: I pray you, hear her speak:
If she confess that she was half the wooer,
Destruction on my head, if my bad blame
Light on the man! Come hither, gentle mistress:
Do you perceive in all this noble company
Where most you owe obedience?
DESDEMONA: My noble father,
I do perceive here a divided duty:
To you I am bound for life and education;
My life and education both do learn me
How to respect you; you are the lord of duty,
I am hitherto your daughter: but here’s my husband;
And so much duty as my mother show’d
To you, preferring you before her father,
So much I challenge that I may profess
Due to the Moor my lord.
BRABANTIO: God be with you! I have done.
Please it your Grace, on to the state affairs:
I had rather to adopt a child than get it.
Come hither, Moor:
I here do give thee that with all my heart
Which, but thou hast already, with all my heart
I would keep from thee. For your sake, jewel,
[I here . . . from thee: I here
give you my daughter, whom you already have, but do so
I am glad at soul I have no other child;
For thy escape would teach me tyranny,
To hang clogs on them. I have done, my lord.
[I am . . . on them: I am glad
you are my only daughter. If I had other daughters, your escape
from me would teach me to become a tyrant with them—even to the
point of attaching heavy blocks to their legs to hinder their
DUKE: Let me speak like yourself and lay a
Which as a grize [step on a
flight of stairs; a degree of progress] or step, may help
Into your favour.
When remedies are past, the griefs are ended
By seeing the worst, which late on hopes depended.
[When . . . depended: When our
worst fear happens, the time for trying to prevent the
fear-causing event ends. So should our anxiety over the event.]
To mourn a mischief that is past and gone
Is the next way to draw new mischief on.
What cannot be preserv’d when Fortune takes,
Patience her injury a mockery makes.
The robb’d that smiles steals something from the
He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.
[What cannot . . . grief: When
bad luck robs you of something, you can turn the tables on the
robber by regarding the robbery as a minor event that does not
disturb your good humor. A victim of robbery who smiles steals
something from the perpetrator. But a victim who mourns his loss
BRABANTIO: So let the Turk of Cyprus us beguile;
We lose it not so long as we can smile.
[So let . . . smile: So if the
Turks rob us of Cyprus, all we have to do is smile and we'll
come out winners.]
He bears the sentence well that nothing bears
But the free comfort which from thence he hears;
[He bears . . . hears: It is easy
to advise someone about pain when you have no pain.]
But he bears both the sentence and the sorrow
That, to pay grief, must of poor patience borrow.
[But . . . borrow: But he who has
suffered genuine pain must borrow strength from patience to
These sentences, to sugar, or to gall,
Being strong on both sides, are equivocal:
But words are words; I never yet did hear
That the bruis’d heart was pierced through the
[These sentences . . . ear: Your
words can either soothe or upset the listener, for they are
equivocal (open to interpretation; ambiguous). But words are
just words. I never yet did hear that words could mend a broken
I humbly beseech you, proceed to the affairs of state.
DUKE: The Turk with a most mighty preparation makes for
Cyprus. Othello, the fortitude of the place is best known to you;
and though we have there a substitute [another commander] of most allowed [acknowledged] sufficiency,
yet opinion [public opinion],
a sovereign mistress of effects [a
powerful force that influences government decisions],
throws a more safer voice on you: you must therefore be content to
slubber [stain; tarnish; dull
the luster of] the gloss of your new fortunes with this
more stubborn and boisterous expedition.
OTHELLO: The tyrant custom, most grave senators,
Hath made the flinty and steel couch of war
My thrice-driven bed of down: I do agnize
A natural and prompt alacrity
I find in hardness, and do undertake
These present wars against the Ottomites.
[The tyrant . . . Ottomites: War
is a custom, a habit, for me. I am so used to war that its
perilous battlefield has become for me a soft bed. I do confess
(agnize) that I have a
natural tendency to regard hardship (hardness) as a challenge, and therefore am
ready to undertake war against the Ottoman Turks.]
Most humbly therefore bending to your state,
I crave fit disposition for my wife,
Due reference of place and exhibition,
With such accommodation and besort
As levels with her breeding.
[Most humbly . . . breeding: But
I humbly request that you make accommodations for my wife and
provide her with attendants (besort)
that are worthy of her breeding.]
DUKE: If you please,
Be ’t at her father’s.
[Be 't (Be it) . . . father's: Let her place of
accommodation be at her father's house.]
BRABANTIO: I’ll not have it so.
OTHELLO: Nor I.
DESDEMONA: Nor I; I would not there reside,
To put my father in impatient thoughts
By being in his eye. Most gracious duke,
To my unfolding [plan;
suggestion] lend your gracious ear;
And let me find a charter [an
authorization or approval; sympathetic tone] in your
To assist my simpleness.
DUKE: What would you, Desdemona?
DESDEMONA: That I did love the Moor to live with
My downright violence and storm of fortunes
May trumpet to the world; my heart’s subdu’d
[That I . . . . world: That I
love Othello and am fortunate to be his wife is how I feel. I am
pleased to announce my love for him to all the world.]
Even to the very quality [profession;
career] of my lord;
I saw Othello’s visage in his mind,
And to his honours and his valiant parts
Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate.
So that, dear lords, if I be left behind,
A moth of peace [a creature that
flits about uselessly], and he go to the war,
The rites for which I love him are bereft me,
[The rites . . . me: The pleasure
and honor of being his loving life will be taken away from me.]
And I a heavy interim [interval;
waiting period] shall support [endure]
By his dear absence. Let me go with him.
OTHELLO: Let her have your voices [approval].
Vouch with me, heaven, I therefore beg it not
To please the palate of my appetite,
Nor to comply with heat,—the young affects
In me defunct,—and proper satisfaction,
But to be free and bounteous to her mind;
[I therefore . . . mind: I do not
want her to go with me simply to satisfy my sexual appetite. The
heat of youthful passion does not preoccupy me, for I am no
longer young. But I do crave her presence so that I may commune
with her spirit.]
And heaven defend your good souls that you think
I will your serious and great business scant [ignore]
For [because] she is with
me. No, when light-wing’d toys [trivial
Of feather’d Cupid [of winged
Cupid, the god of love] seel [close; curtail; suspend] with wanton
My speculative and offic’d instruments [my ability to perceive and carry out my duties],
That my disports [amusements]
corrupt and taint my business,
Let housewives make a skillet of my helm [helmet],
And all indign [unworthy]
and base adversities
Make head against my estimation! [Make a mockery of my reputation!]
DUKE: Be it as you shall privately determine,
Either for her stay or going. The affair cries haste,
And speed must answer it.
[The affair . . . it: But make
your decision without delay.]
FIRST SENATOR: You must away to-night.
OTHELLO: With all my heart.
DUKE: At nine i’ the morning here we’ll meet
Othello, leave some officer behind,
And he shall our commission [official
document appointing Othello to lead the Venetian troops]
bring to you;
With such things else of quality and respect
As doth import you.
[such things . . . you: Whatever
else is important to your mission]
OTHELLO: So please your Grace, my ancient;
A man he is of honesty and trust:
To his conveyance I assign my wife,
With what else needful your good grace shall think
To be sent after me.
[So please . . . after me: With
your approval, I will appoint trustworthy Iago to convey my wife
to Cyprus, along with anything else you wish to send to me.]
DUKE: Let it be so.
Good night to every one. [To BRABANTIO.] And, noble
If virtue no delighted beauty lack,
Your son-in-law is far more fair than black.
FIRST SENATOR: Adieu [French
for farewell], brave Moor! use Desdemona
BRABANTIO: Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to
She has deceiv’d her father, and may thee. [Exeunt DUKE,
Senators, Officers, &c.
OTHELLO: My life upon her faith! Honest Iago,
My Desdemona must I leave to thee:
I prithee [ask you; beg you],
let thy wife attend on her;
And bring them after in the best advantage.
[in the best advantage: At your
earliest opportunity; as soon as you can]
Come, Desdemona; I have but an hour
Of love, of worldly matters and direction,
To spend with thee: we must obey the time. [Exeunt OTHELLO
IAGO: What sayst thou, noble heart?
RODERIGO: What will I do, think’st thou?
IAGO: Why, go to bed, and sleep.
RODERIGO: I will incontinently drown myself [because of my hopeless love for
IAGO: Well, if thou dost, I shall never love thee after.
Why, thou silly gentleman!
RODERIGO: It is silliness to live when to live is torment;
and then have we a prescription to die when death is our
IAGO: O! villanous; I have looked upon the world for four
times seven years, and since I could distinguish betwixt a benefit
and an injury, I never found man that knew how to love himself.
Ere [before] I would say,
I would drown myself for the love of a guinea-hen, I would change
my humanity with a baboon. [I
would become a baboon before resorting to drowning myself for
the love of some woman.]
RODERIGO: What should I do? I confess it is my shame to be
so fond; but it is not in my virtue to amend it.
IAGO: Virtue! a fig! ’tis in ourselves that we are thus, or
thus. Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are
gardeners; so that if we will plant nettles or sow lettuce, set
hyssop and weed up thyme, supply it with one gender of herbs or
distract it with many, either to have it sterile with idleness or
manured with industry, why, the power and corrigible [correcting; amending; changing]
authority of this lies in our wills. If the balance of our lives
had not one scale of reason to poise [weigh] another of sensuality, the blood and
baseness of our natures would conduct us to most preposterous
conclusions; but we have reason to cool our raging motions, our
carnal stings [sexual desires],
our unbitted [uncontrolled]
lusts, whereof I take this that you call love to be a sect or
scion [sect or scion: Both words
['tis in ourselves . . . scion:
Bosh! We control our destinies. If we plant a garden, we control
whether it will become productive or lie fallow. It is in our
power to decide what to plant and whether to nurture our crop to
maturity. I think what you identify as love is simply an
offshoot of lust.]
RODERIGO: It cannot be.
IAGO: It is merely a lust of the blood and a permission of
the will. Come, be a man. Drown thyself! drown cats and blind
puppies. [Drown yourself? Why,
drowning is for cats and blind puppies, not for men.] I
have professed me thy friend, and I confess me knit to thy
deserving [attach myself loyally
to you] with cables of perdurable [incredibly hard] toughness; I
could never better stead [benefit;
help] thee than now. [The
following passage is explained below.] Put money in thy
purse; follow these wars; defeat thy favour with a usurped beard;
I say, put money in thy purse. It cannot be that Desdemona should
long continue her love to the Moor,—put money in thy purse,—nor he
his to her. It was a violent commencement in her, and thou shalt
see an answerable sequestration; put but money in thy purse. These
Moors are changeable in their wills;—fill thy purse with
money:—the food that to him now is as luscious as locusts, shall
be to him shortly as bitter as coloquintida. She must change for
youth: when she is sated with his body, she will find the error of
her choice. She must have change, she must: therefore put money in
thy purse. If thou wilt needs damn thyself, do it a more delicate
way than drowning. Make all the money thou canst. If sanctimony
and a frail vow betwixt an erring barbarian and a supersubtle
Venetian be not too hard for my wits and all the tribe of hell,
thou shalt enjoy her; therefore make money. A pox of drowning
thyself! it is clean out of the way: seek thou rather to be hanged
in compassing thy joy than to be drowned and go without her.
[Put money . . . without her:
What you should do is put money in your purse. You may have to
sell some of your assets. Then follow Desdemona to Cyprus.
Disguise yourself with a beard. The love between Desdemona and
the Moor will be short-lived. Moors tend to change their minds
and reverse earlier commitments. Right now, Desdemona is like a
luscious food to him. Soon she will be like coloquintida (koh
loh kwin TE duh), a bitter fruit that can be used as a laxative.
For her part, Desdemona will eventually want a younger man. When
she has experienced enough of Othello, she will discover her
error in marrying him. If you're going to send yourself to hell,
don't drown yourself. Instead, do it by pursuing your joy—in
this case, Desdemona.]
RODERIGO: Wilt thou be fast to my hopes, if I depend on the
[Wilt . . . issue: Will you
support me if I do as you say and wait to see what happens
IAGO: Thou art sure of me: go, make money. I have told thee
often, and I re-tell thee again and again, I hate the Moor: my
cause is hearted [full of heart;
deeply rooted in my emotions]: thine hath no less reason.
Let us be conjunctive [cooperative]
in our revenge against him; if thou canst cuckold him [make him the victim of infidelity],
thou dost thyself a pleasure, me a sport. There are many events in
the womb of time which will be delivered. Traverse; go: provide
thy money. We will have more of this to-morrow. Adieu [farewell].
RODERIGO: Where shall we meet i’ the morning?
IAGO: At my lodging.
RODERIGO: I’ll be with thee betimes [early; soon].
IAGO: Go to; farewell. Do you hear, Roderigo?
RODERIGO: What say you?
IAGO: No more of drowning, do you hear?
RODERIGO: I am changed. I’ll sell all my land.
IAGO: Go to; farewell! put money enough in your
purse. [Exit RODERIGO.
Thus do I ever make my fool my purse;
[Thus . . . purse: As you can
see, I turn fools like Roderigo into sources of income for me.]
For I mine own gain’d knowledge should profane,
If I would time expend with such a snipe
But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor,
[For I . . . profit: I would be
working against myself if I spent time with an idiot like
Roderigo without gaining amusement and profit in the exchange.]
And it is thought abroad that ’twixt my sheets
He has done my office: I know not if ’t be true,
But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,
Will do as if for surety. He holds me well;
The better shall my
purpose work on him.
[And it is . . . work on him: And
it is thought in public that between the sheets of my own bed
Othello has had sex with my wife. I don't know whether the rumor
is true; but, out of suspicion, I will take the rumor as true.
Because he thinks well of me, I will be be able to plot against
Cassio’s a proper man; let me see now:
To get his place; and to plume up my will
In double knavery; how, how? Let’s see:
After some time to abuse Othello’s ear
That he is too familiar with his wife:
He hath a person and a smooth dispose
To be suspected; framed to make women false.
[Cassio's . . . women
false: Cassio's a handsome fellow. I think I can use him to
carry out my will against Othello. What I will do is tell
Othello that Cassio is being too familiar with Desdemona.
Because of Cassio's good looks and smooth-talking manner, it
will be easy to cast suspicion on him as a man who can make
women unfaithful to their husbands.]
The Moor is of a free and open nature,
That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,
And will as tenderly be led by the nose
As asses are.
I have ’t; it is engender’d: hell and night
Must bring this monstrous birth to the world’s light.
[I have . . . light: So I have
plan engendered from my hatred for Othello. The devil and
darkness will help me make my plan reality.]
Act 2, Scene 1
A Seaport town in
Cyprus. An open place near the quay [wharf].
Enter MONTANO and two Gentlemen.
MONTANO: What from the cape [land projecting into an ocean] can you discern at
FIRST GENTLEMAN: Nothing at all: it is a high-wrought flood
I cannot ’twixt [between]
the heaven and the main [sea]
Descry [make out; identify]
MONTANO: Methinks the wind hath spoke aloud at
A fuller blast ne’er shook our battlements;
If it hath ruffian’d so upon the sea,
What ribs of oak, when mountains melt on them,
Can hold the mortise? what shall we hear of this?
[Methinks . . . hear of this?:
The wind is roaring on land, too. A stronger wind never before
has so shaken our fortress. In such a rough wind, what ship—with
its ribs of oak—can hold together when mountains of waves crash
in on them? What will come of this storm?]
SECOND GENTLEMAN: A segregation of the Turkish
For do but stand upon the foaming shore,
The chidden billow seems to pelt the clouds;
The wind-shak’d surge, with high and monstrous
Seems to cast water on the burning bear
And quench the guards of the ever-fixed pole:
I never did like molestation view
On the enchafed flood.
[A segregation . . . enchafed
flood: This great storm will separate or break up the ships in
the Turkish fleet. If you stand on the shore, you will see the
billowing waves rise to the clouds and even seem to cast water
on Ursa Major, the constellation of stars in the shape of a
bear, and extinguish the stars in another constellation. I never
did like the view of an angry sea.]
MONTANO: If that the Turkish fleet
Be not enshelter’d and embay’d, they are
It is impossible they bear it out.
[If that . . . out: If the
Turkish fleet has not taken refuge in a port, it cannot survive
Enter a third Gentleman.
THIRD GENTLEMAN: News, lads! our wars are
The desperate tempest hath so bang’d the Turks
That their designment [plan to
attack Cyprus] halts; a noble ship of
Hath seen a grievous wrack [destruction] and
On most part of their fleet.
MONTANO: How! is this true?
THIRD GENTLEMAN: The ship is here put in,
A Veronesa [ship from the city
of Verona, Italy]; Michael Cassio,
Lieutenant to the war-like Moor Othello,
Is come on shore: the Moor himself’s at sea,
And is in full commission here for Cyprus.
MONTANO: I am glad on ’t; ’tis a worthy
THIRD GENTLEMAN: But this same Cassio, though he speak of
Touching the Turkish loss, yet he looks sadly
And prays the Moor be safe; for they were parted
With foul and violent tempest.
MONTANO: Pray heaven he be;
For I have serv’d him, and the man commands
Like a full soldier. Let’s to the sea-side, ho!
As well to see the vessel that’s come in
As to throw out our eyes for [look
for] brave Othello,
Even till we make the main [sea]
and the aerial blue [sky]
An indistinct regard [a single
THIRD GENTLEMAN: Come, let’s do so;
For every minute is expectancy
Of more arrivance [arrivals of
CASSIO: Thanks, you the valiant of this war-like
That so approve the Moor. O! let the heavens
Give him defence against the elements,
For I have lost him on a dangerous sea.
MONTANO: Is he well shipp’d? [Is he in a sturdy ship?]
CASSIO: His bark [ship]
is stoutly timber’d, and his pilot [helmsman; steersman]
Of very expert and approv’d allowance [proven ability];
Therefore my hopes, not surfeited to death [not yet sick enough to die],
Stand in bold cure [Stand ready
to embrace a cure]. [Within [offstage], ‘A sail!—a sail!—a
Enter a Messenger.
CASSIO: What noise?
MESSENGER: The town is empty; on the brow o’ the
Stand ranks of people, and they cry, ‘A sail!’
CASSIO: My hopes do shape him for the governor. [Guns
SECOND GENTLEMAN: They do discharge their shot of
Our friends at least. [At least
it is a friendly ship.]
CASSIO: I pray you, sir, go forth,
And give us truth who ’tis that is arriv’d.
SECOND GENTLEMAN: I shall. [Exit.
MONTANO: But, good lieutenant, is your general
CASSIO: Most fortunately: he hath achiev’d [married] a
That paragons [surpasses]
description and wild fame;
One that excels the quirks of blazoning pens,
And in th’ essential vesture of creation
Does tire the ingener.
[And in . . . ingener: And
any attempt by a writer to describe her or a painter to capture
her image on canvas would wear out the creative vigor of either
Re-enter second Gentleman.
How now! who has put in?
SECOND GENTLEMAN: ’Tis one Iago, ancient to the
CASSIO: He has had most favourable and happy
Tempests themselves, high seas, and howling
The gutter’d rocks , and
Traitors ensteep’d to clog the guiltless
As having sense of beauty, do omit
Their mortal natures, letting go safely by
The divine Desdemona.
[Tempests . . . Desdemona:
Storms, high seas, howling winds, rocks, and sandbars all
conspire to sink ships. But they all have let divine Desdemona
pass safely by on the ship that has just arrived.]
MONTANO: What is she?
CASSIO: She that I spake of, our great captain’s captain [our great captain's wife],
Left in the conduct [care]
of the bold Iago,
Whose footing [arrival]
here anticipates our thoughts [beats
our predictions for their arrival]
A se’nnight’s [seven nights']
speed. Great Jove, Othello guard [Great
God, guard Othello],
And swell his sail with thine own powerful
That he may bless this bay with his tall ship,
Make love’s quick pants [breaths]
in Desdemona’s arms,
Give renew’d fire to our extincted [sagging] spirits,
And bring all Cyprus comfort!
Enter DESDEMONA, EMILIA, IAGO, RODERIGO, and Attendants.
The riches of the ship is come on shore.
Ye men of Cyprus, let her have your knees.
Hail to thee, lady! and the grace of heaven,
Before, behind thee, and on every hand,
Enwheel [encircle] thee
DESDEMONA: I thank you, valiant Cassio.
What tidings can you tell me of my lord?
CASSIO: He is not yet arriv’d; nor know I aught [anything]
But that he’s well, and will be shortly here.
DESDEMONA: O! but I fear—How lost you company? [How did you get separated from him?]
CASSIO: The great contention of the sea and
Parted our fellowship. But hark! a sail. [Cry within, ‘A
sail!—a sail!’ Guns heard.
SECOND GENTLEMAN: They give their greeting to the
This likewise is a friend.
CASSIO: See for the news! [Exit
Good ancient [Iago], you
are welcome:—[To EMILIA.] welcome,
Let it not gall your patience, good Iago,
That I extend my manners; ’tis my breeding
That gives me this bold show of courtesy. [Kissing
IAGO: Sir, would she give you so much of her
As of her tongue she oft bestows on me,
You’d have enough.
[Sir, would . . . enough: Sir, if
she gave you as much of her lips as she gives me of her nagging
tongue, you'd have enough of her.]
DESDEMONA: Alas! she has no speech. [But she really doesn't talk much.]
IAGO: In faith, too much;
I find it still [so] when
I have list [a desire] to
Marry, before your ladyship, I grant,
She puts her tongue a little in her heart,
And chides with thinking.
[Marry . . . thinking: In fact, before you, I grant that she
doesn't talk much. But she scolds me with her eyes.]
EMILIA: You have little cause to say so.
IAGO: Come on, come on; you are pictures out of
Bells in your parlours, wild cats in your
Saints in your injuries, devils being offended,
Players in your housewifery, and housewives in your
[you are . . . your beds: You
women are as pretty and soundless as pictures when you're out
with others. But you are as noisy as bells in your parlours and
as wild cats in your kitchens. Moreover, you act like saints
when you injure someone but act like devils when you fight back
against someone who has injured you. You merely play at
housekeeping but act like worn-out housewives when you go to
DESDEMONA: O! fie upon thee, slanderer.
IAGO: Nay, it is true, or else I am a
You rise to play and go to bed to work.
EMILIA: You shall not write my praise.
IAGO: No, let me not.
DESDEMONA: What wouldst thou write of me, if thou shouldst
IAGO: O gentle lady, do not put me to ’t,
For I am nothing if not critical.
DESDEMONA: Come on; assay [try]. There’s one gone to the
harbour? [Has someone gone to
IAGO: Ay, madam.
DESDEMONA: I am not merry, but I do
The thing I am by seeming otherwise.
Come, how wouldst thou praise me?
[I am . . . otherwise: The reason
I asked whether someone is at the harbor is that I am worried
about Othello. I really don't feel merry right now, but I may
seem so because I am trying to put on a happy face. Now then,
what would you write
if you were praising me?]
IAGO: I am about it; but indeed my
Comes from my pate as birdlime does from frize;
It plucks out brains and all: but my muse
And thus she is deliver’d.
[I am about . . . deliver'd: I am
trying. But my thoughts come from my head in the same way that
birdlime (a sticky preparation applied to tree branches to snare
birds) does from frize (archaic form of frieze; a frieze is a
shaggy woolen cloth). My thoughts pull out brains and all.
However, my creativity continues to labor. And now this is what
it has come up with.]
If she be fair and wise, fairness and wit,
The one’s for use, the other useth it.
[If she . . . useth it: If she be
fair (double meaning that becomes clear in line 150; fair means both beautiful
and white) and intelligent, she uses her beauty to get what her
DESDEMONA: Well prais’d! How if she be black [homely] and
IAGO: If she be black [homely],
and thereto have a wit,
She’ll find a white [opposite of
black; also, a pun on wight,
meaning fellow, man, or human being] that shall her
DESDEMONA: Worse and worse.
EMILIA: How if fair and foolish?
IAGO: She never yet was foolish that was
For even her folly help’d her to an heir.
[For even . . . heir: For even
her foolishness was an attraction to men and helped her to
become an heir.]
DESDEMONA: These are old fond paradoxes to make fools laugh
i’ the alehouse. What miserable praise hast thou for her that’s
foul and foolish [that's ugly,
dumb, and foolish]?
IAGO: There’s none so foul and foolish
But does foul pranks which fair and wise ones do.
[There's . . . ones do: The ugly,
dumb, and foolish women play the same tricks on men that the
fair and wise women do. They're all the same.]
DESDEMONA: O heavy ignorance! thou praisest the worst best.
[O you are ignorant because you
praise the worst as the best.] But what praise couldst
thou bestow on a deserving woman indeed, one that, in the
authority of her merit, did justly put on the vouch of very malice
[one that . . . itself: One who
is so meritorious and virtuous that even malice would vouch for
IAGO: She that was ever fair and never
Had tongue at will and yet was never loud,
Never lack’d gold and yet went never gay,
Fled from her wish and yet said ‘Now I may,’
[Never . . . I may: Never lacked
gold but never flaunted her wealth. She controlled her desires
but said "I may" when her wishes were right and proper]
She that being anger’d, her revenge being nigh,
Bade her wrong stay and her displeasure fly,
[She that . . . fly: When angered
and desiring revenge against an offender, she withheld revenge
and told her displeasure to fly away.]
She that in wisdom never was so frail
To change the cod’s head for the salmon’s tail,
[She that . . . tail: She that
was wise enough never to exchange the tail end of something good
for the head of something bad]
She that could think and ne’er disclose her
See suitors following and not look behind,
She was a wight, if ever such wight were,—
[She . . . were: She was a
genuine human being, if ever there was a genuine human.]
DESDEMONA: To do what?
IAGO: To suckle fools and chronicle small
[To suckle . . . beer: To give
birth to and nurse fools and to perform trivial tasks, such as
writing the history of beer]
DESDEMONA: O most lame and impotent conclusion! Do not learn
of him, Emilia, though he be thy husband. How say you, Cassio? is
he not a most profane and liberal [immoral] counsellor?
CASSIO: He speaks home, madam; you may relish him more in
the soldier than in the scholar.
[He speaks . . . scholar: His
words are blunt and straightforward. He is a soldier, after all,
not a scholar.]
IAGO: [Aside.] He takes her [Desdemona] by the palm; ay, well said, whisper; [go ahead and whisper to each other]
with as little a web as this will I ensnare as great a fly as
Cassio. Ay, smile upon her, do; I will gyve [trap; shackle] thee in thine
own courtship. You say true, ’tis so, indeed. If such tricks as
these strip you out of your lieutenantry [If your flirtations cause you to
lose your rank as second-in-command], it had been better
you had not kissed your three fingers so oft [a gesture of gallantry],
which now again you are most apt to play the sir in. Very good;
well kissed! an excellent courtesy! ’tis so, indeed. Yet again
your fingers to your lips? [Yet
again you are kissing your three fingers?] would they
were clyster-pipes for your sake! [I wish those fingers were enema syringes to purge you.]
[A trumpet heard.] The Moor! I know his
CASSIO: ’Tis truly so.
DESDEMONA: Let’s meet him and receive him.
CASSIO: Lo! where he comes.
Enter OTHELLO and Attendants.
OTHELLO: O my fair warrior!
DESDEMONA: My dear Othello!
OTHELLO: It gives me wonder great as my
To see you here before me. O my soul’s joy!
[It gives . . . joy: I am as
amazed as I am happy to see that you arrived here before me. You
are the joy of my soul.]
If after every tempest come such calms,
May the winds blow till they have waken’d death!
And let the labouring bark [ship]
climb hills of seas
Olympus-high [as high as Mount
Olympus], and duck again as low
As hell’s from heaven! If it were now to die,
’Twere now to be most happy, for I fear
My soul hath her content so absolute
That not another comfort like to this
Succeeds in unknown fate.
[not another . . . fate: Not
another comfort like the one I am experiencing now will follow
in the unknown future.]
DESDEMONA: The heavens forbid
But that our loves and comforts should increase
Even as our days do grow!
OTHELLO: Amen to that, sweet powers!
I cannot speak enough of this content;
It stops me here; it is too much of joy:
And this, and this, the greatest discords be, [Kissing
That e’er our hearts shall make!
[And this . . . make: And this
kiss is the greatest discord that will ever exist between you
and me. (In other words, they will always be kind and loving to
IAGO: [Aside.] O! you are well tun’d
But I’ll set down the pegs [I'll
make you sing a different tune] that make this
As honest as I am.
OTHELLO: Come, let us to the castle.
News, friends; our wars are done, the Turks are
How does my old acquaintance of this isle? [How are my old friends here doing?]
Honey, you shall be well desir’d [received]
I have found great love amongst them. O my
I prattle out of fashion [talk
too much], and I dote
In mine own comforts. I prithee [beg
thee; pray thee], good Iago,
Go to the bay and disembark my coffers.
[disembark . . . coffers: Take my
belongings off the ship.]
Bring thou the master [captain]
to the citadel;
He is a good one, and his worthiness
Does challenge [require;
command; claim] much respect. Come,
Once more well met at Cyprus. [Exeunt all except IAGO and
IAGO: Do thou meet me presently at the harbour. Come hither.
If thou be’st [be]
valiant, as they say base men being in love have then a nobility
in their natures more than is native to them, list [listen to] me. The lieutenant
[Cassio] to-night watches
on the court of guard: first, I must tell thee this, Desdemona is
directly in love with him.
RODERIGO: With him! why, ’tis not
IAGO: Lay thy finger thus [Lay
your finger to your lips; be quiet; shut up], and let thy
soul be instructed. Mark me with what violence she first loved the
Moor but [only] for
bragging and telling her fantastical lies; and will she love him
still for prating? [will she
continue to love him for more of the same kind of talk?]
let not thy discreet [prudent;
careful] heart think it. Her eye must be fed [by a man more handsome than Othello];
and what delight shall she have to look on the devil? When the
blood is made dull with the act of sport [with lovemaking], there
should be, again to inflame it, and to give satiety a fresh
appetite, loveliness in favour [a
handsome man], sympathy in years [a man about the same age as
Desdemona], manners, and beauties [a man with the same manners and
preferences of Desdemona]; all which the Moor is
defective in. Now, for want of these required conveniences, her
delicate tenderness will find itself abused, begin to heave the
gorge [vomit], disrelish
and abhor the Moor; very nature will instruct her in it, and
compel her to some second choice. Now, sir, this granted, as it is
a most pregnant and unforced position [as . . . position: as it is obvious], who stands so eminently in the
degree of this fortune as Cassio does? a knave very voluble [smooth in his talk], no
further conscionable than in putting on the mere form of civil and
humane seeming [no further . . .
seeming: a man who pretends to have a conscience], for
the better compassing [satisfaction]
of his salt [lust] and
most hidden loose affection? why, none; why, none: a slipper [slippery; devious] and subtle
knave, a finder-out of occasions, that has an eye can stamp and
counterfeit advantages [that can
turn situations to his advantage], though true advantage
never present itself; a devilish knave! Besides, the knave is
handsome, young, and hath all those requisites in him that folly
and green [inexperienced]
minds look after; a pestilent complete knave! and the woman hath
found him already.
RODERIGO: I cannot believe that in her; she is full of most
blessed condition [she is so
virtuous and innocent].
IAGO: Blessed fig’s end! [My
foot! Like hell! You can't be serious!] the wine she
drinks is made of grapes [she
drinks the same wine as everyone else and, therefore, is
ordinary]; if she had been blessed she would never have
loved the Moor; blessed pudding! [good
gracious!] Didst thou not see her paddle with the palm of
his hand? didst not mark that?
RODERIGO: Yes, that I did; but that was but
IAGO: Lechery, by this hand! an index and obscure prologue
to the history of lust and foul thoughts. [It was lechery. It was the beginning
of a lustful relationship.] They met so near with their
lips, that their breaths embraced together. Villanous thoughts,
Roderigo! when these mutualities [little
exchanges of affection] so marshal [lead] the way, hard at hand
comes the master and main exercise, the incorporate conclusion [having sex]. Pish! But, sir,
be you ruled by me: I have brought you from Venice. Watch you
to-night; for the command, I’ll lay ’t upon you: Cassio knows you
not. I’ll not be far from you: do you find some occasion to anger
Cassio, either by speaking too loud, or tainting his discipline [criticizing his military skills];
or from what other course you please, which the time shall more
IAGO: Sir, he is rash and very sudden in choler [sudden to anger], and haply [perhaps] may strike at you:
provoke him, that he may; for even out of that will I cause these
of Cyprus to mutiny, whose
qualification shall come into no true taste again but by the
displanting of Cassio [to mutiny
. . . Cassio: to cry out against Cassio and demand that he be
replaced]. So shall you have a shorter journey to your
desires by the means I shall then have to prefer them [So shall . . . them: Doing what I
tell you will shorten your journey to your ultimate desire,
Desdemona]; and the impediment [Cassio] most profitably removed, without the
which there were no expectation of our prosperity [without . . . prosperity: Without
his removal, you cannot expect to prosper].
RODERIGO: I will do this, if I can bring it to any
IAGO: I warrant thee [I
guarantee it will result in an opportunity]. Meet me by
and by at the citadel: I must fetch his [Othello's] necessaries ashore.
RODERIGO: Adieu [Farewell].
IAGO: That Cassio loves her, I do well believe
That she loves him, ’tis apt [probable],
and of great credit:
The Moor, howbeit that I endure him not,
Is of a constant, loving, noble nature;
[The Moor . . . nature: I must
admit that the Moor, even though I despise him, has a loving
And I dare think he’ll prove to Desdemona
A most dear husband. Now, I do love her too;
Not out of absolute lust,—though peradventure
I stand accountant for as great a sin,—
But partly led to diet [feed]
For that I do suspect the lusty Moor
Hath leap’d into my seat [leaped
into bed with my wife]; the thought
Doth like a poisonous mineral gnaw my inwards;
And nothing can or shall content my soul
Till I am even’d with him, wife for wife;
Or failing so, yet that I put the Moor
At least into a jealousy so strong
That judgment cannot cure. Which thing to do,
If this poor trash [Roderigo]
of Venice, whom I trash [reject;
For his quick hunting, stand the putting-on [can stand and follow my
I’ll have our Michael Cassio on the hip;
Abuse him to the Moor in the rank garb,
[Abuse . . . garb: I'll denounce
him to the Moor with gross language.]
For I fear Cassio with my night-cap too,
[For I . . . too: For I fear that
Cassio wore my nightcap and also went to bed with my wife.]
Make the Moor thank me, love me, and reward me
For making him egregiously an ass
And practising upon his peace and quiet
Even to madness. ’Tis here, but yet confus’d:
Knavery’s plain face is never seen till us’d.
[Make the Moor . . . till us'd:
I'll make the Moor thankful to me even though I turn him into an
ass and disturb his peace and quiet, even to the point of making
him mad. No one will notice my evildoing until he or she sees
Act 2, Scene 2
Enter a Herald with proclamation. People following.
HERALD: It is Othello’s pleasure, our noble and valiant
general, that, upon certain tidings now arrived, importing [concerning] the mere
perdition [complete destruction]
of the Turkish fleet, every man put himself into triumph; some to
dance, some to make bonfires, each man to what sport and revels
his addiction leads him; for, besides these beneficial news, it is
the celebration of his nuptia [marriage].
So much was his pleasure should be proclaimed. All offices [kitchen and other places that store
food and drink] are open, and there is full liberty of
feasting from this present hour of five till the bell have told
eleven. Heaven bless the isle of Cyprus and our noble general
Act 2, Scene 3
A hall in the castle.
Enter OTHELLO, DESDEMONA, CASSIO, and Attendants.
OTHELLO: Good Michael, look you to [supervise] the guard
Let’s teach ourselves that honourable stop [restraint],
Not to outsport discretion [not
to overdo our celebration].
CASSIO: Iago hath direction what to do;
But, notwithstanding, with my personal eye
Will I look to ’t.
OTHELLO: Iago is most honest.
Michael, good night; to-morrow with your earliest [at an early hour]
Let me have speech with you. [To DESDEMONA.] Come, my
The purchase made [Now that the
wedding is over], the fruits [pleasures of love] are to
That profit’s yet to come ’twixt me and you. [The best is yet to come.]
Good night. [Exeunt OTHELLO, DESDEMONA, and
CASSIO: Welcome, Iago; we must to the
IAGO: Not this hour, lieutenant; ’tis not yet ten o’ the
clock. Our general cast [dismissed]
us thus early for the love of his Desdemona, who let us not
therefore blame; he hath not yet made wanton the night with her,
and she is sport for Jove.
[for the love . . . Jove: So that
he could turn all his attention to Desdemona, and we cannot
blame him for doing so. He has not yet made love to her, and she
is a prize worthy of Jove. (Jove is another name for Jupiter, the king of the gods in
Roman mythology. His Greek name is Zeus.)].
CASSIO: She’s a most exquisite lady.
IAGO: And, I’ll warrant her, full of game [passion; spirit].
CASSIO: Indeed, she is a most fresh and delicate
IAGO: What an eye she has! methinks it sounds a parley of
[sounds . . . provocation:
Invites men to communicate with her about love.]
CASSIO: An inviting eye; and yet methinks right
IAGO: And when she speaks, is it not an alarum to love [a love call]?
CASSIO: She is indeed perfection.
IAGO: Well, happiness to their sheets! Come, lieutenant, I
have a stoup [cup; tankard]
of wine, and here without are a brace [pair] of Cyprus gallants that would fain [willingly] have a measure to
the health of black Othello.
CASSIO: Not to-night, good Iago: I have very poor and
unhappy brains for drinking: I could well wish courtesy would
invent some other custom of entertainment.
IAGO: O! they are our friends; but one cup: I’ll drink for
CASSIO: I have drunk but one cup to-night, and that was
craftily qualified [mixed]
too, and, behold, what innovation [disturbance] it makes here [in my stomach]: I am
unfortunate in the infirmity, and dare not task my weakness with
IAGO: What, man! ’tis a night of revels; the gallants desire
CASSIO: Where are they?
IAGO: Here at the door; I pray you, call them
CASSIO: I’ll do ’t; but it dislikes me.
IAGO: If I can fasten but one cup upon
With that which he hath drunk to-night already,
He’ll be as full of quarrel and offence
As my young mistress’ dog. Now, my sick fool
Whom love has turn’d almost the wrong side out,
To Desdemona hath to-night carous’d [drunk]
Potations pottle deep [two
quarts of toasts]; and he’s to watch.
Three lads of Cyprus, noble swelling spirits,
That hold their honours in a wary distance,
The very elements of this war-like isle,
Have I to-night fluster’d with flowing cups,
And they watch too. Now, ’mongst this flock of
Am I to put our Cassio in some action
That may offend the isle. But here they come.
If consequence do but approve my dream,
My boat sails freely [my plan
unfolds freely], both with wind and
Re-enter CASSIO, with him MONTANO, and Gentlemen. Servant
following with wine.
CASSIO: ’Fore God, they have given me a rouse
MONTANO: Good faith, a little one; not past a pint, as I am
IAGO: Some wine, ho!
And let me the canakin [small can or cup] clink,
And let me the canakin clink:
A soldier’s a
A life’s but a
span [distance between the thumb
and forefinger stretched apart];
Why then let a soldier drink.
Some wine, boys!
CASSIO: ’Fore [Before]
God, an excellent song.
IAGO: I learned it in England, where indeed they are most
potent in potting [drinking];
your Dane, your German, and your swag-bellied Hollander,—drink,
ho!—are nothing to your English.
CASSIO: Is your Englishman so expert in his
IAGO: Why, he drinks you with facility your Dane dead drunk;
he sweats not to overthrow your Almain [German]; he gives your Hollander a vomit ere the
next pottle can be filled.
CASSIO: To the health of our general!
MONTANO: I am for it, lieutenant; and I’ll do you
IAGO: O sweet England!
King Stephen was a worthy peer,
His breeches cost him but a crown;
He held them sixpence all too dear, [He said he was overcharged by
With that he call’d the tailor lown [lout].
He was a wight [man] of high renown,
And thou art but of low degree: [But you are of low degree compared
’Tis pride that pulls the country down,
Then take thine auld [old] cloak about
Some wine, ho!
CASSIO: Why, this is a more exquisite song than the
IAGO: Will you hear ’t again?
CASSIO: No; for I hold him to be unworthy of his place that
does those things. Well, God’s above all; and there be souls must
be saved, and there be souls must not be saved.
IAGO: It’s true, good lieutenant.
CASSIO: For mine own part,—no offence to the general, nor
any man of quality [high rank],—I
hope to be saved.
IAGO: And so do I too, lieutenant.
CASSIO: Ay; but, by your leave, not before me; the
lieutenant is to be saved before the ancient [I am to be saved before you].
Let’s have no more of this; let’s to our affairs [let's get back to work]. God
forgive us our sins! Gentlemen, let’s look to our business. Do not
think, gentlemen, I am drunk: this is my ancient; this is my right
hand, and this is my left hand. I am not drunk now; I can stand
well enough, and speak well enough.
All. Excellent well.
CASSIO: Why, very well, then; you must not think then that I
am drunk. [Exit.
MONTANO: To the platform, masters; come, let’s set [call out; station] the
IAGO: You see this fellow that is gone
He is a soldier fit to stand by Cæsar
And give direction; and do but see his vice;
’Tis to his virtue a just equinox [his vice is the very equal of his virtue],
The one as long as the other; ’tis pity of him.
I fear the trust Othello puts him in,
On some odd time of his infirmity [at some time when Cassio is not at his best],
Will shake this island.
MONTANO: But is he often thus?
IAGO: ’Tis evermore [more
and more] the prologue to his sleep:
He’ll watch the horologe a double set [He'll drink around the clock],
If drink rock not his cradle [If
alcohol does not put him to sleep].
MONTANO: It were well
The general were put in mind of it.
Perhaps he sees it not; or his good nature
Prizes the virtue that appears in Cassio,
And looks not on his evils. Is not this true?
IAGO: [Aside to him.] How now,
I pray you, after the lieutenant; go. [Exit
MONTANO: And ’tis great pity that the noble
Should hazard such a place as his own second
With one of an ingraft [firmly
It were an honest action to say
So to the Moor.
IAGO: Not I, for this fair island:
I do love Cassio well, and would do much
To cure him of this evil. But hark! what noise? [Cry within,
Re-enter CASSIO, driving in RODERIGO.
CASSIO: You rogue! you rascal!
MONTANO: What’s the matter, lieutenant?
CASSIO: A knave teach me my duty!
I’ll beat the knave into a twiggen bottle [wicker bottle].
RODERIGO: Beat me!
CASSIO: Dost thou prate, rogue? [Striking
MONTANO: [Staying him.] Nay, good
I pray you, sir, hold your hand.
CASSIO: Let me go, sir,
Or I’ll knock you o’er the mazzard [head].
MONTANO: Come, come; you’re drunk.
CASSIO: Drunk! [They fight.
IAGO: [Aside to RODERIGO.] Away, I say! go out, and
cry a mutiny [riot].
Nay, good lieutenant! God’s will, gentlemen!
Help, ho! Lieutenant! sir! Montano! sir!
Help, masters! Here’s a goodly watch indeed! [Bell
Who’s that that rings the bell? Diablo [the devil], ho!
The town will rise: God’s will! lieutenant,
You will be sham’d for ever.
Re-enter OTHELLO and Attendants.
OTHELLO: What is the matter here?
MONTANO: ’Zounds! [Interjection
that is short for by His wounds, meaning the wounds of the crucified
Christ]. I bleed still; I am hurt to the
OTHELLO: Hold, for your lives!
IAGO: Hold, ho, lieutenant! Sir! Montano!
Have you forgot all sense of place and duty?
Hold! the general speaks to you; hold for shame!
OTHELLO: Why, how now, ho! from whence ariseth
Are we turn’d Turks, and to ourselves do that
Which heaven hath forbid the Ottomites?
[Are we . . . Ottomites: Are we
turned into heathenish Turks and inflict on ourselves the
savagery that the Turks inflict on their enemies?]
For Christian shame put by [put
by: put aside; stop] this barbarous
He that stirs next to carve [wield
his sword] for his own rage
Holds his soul light; he dies upon his motion [he dies if he even raises his sword].
Silence that dreadful bell! it frights the isle
From her propriety. What is the matter, masters?
Honest Iago, that look’st dead with grieving,
Speak, who began this? on thy love, I charge
IAGO: I do not know; friends all but now, even
In quarter and in terms like bride and groom
Devesting them [divesting
themselves—that is, removing their clothes] for bed; and
then, but now,—
As if some planet had unwitted men,—
Swords out, and tilting one at other’s breast,
In opposition bloody. I cannot speak
Any beginning to this peevish odds,
And would in action glorious I had lost
Those legs that brought me to a part of it!
[I do not know . . . part of it:
I do not know. We were all happy friends until a moment ago, as
happy as a bride and groom getting ready for bed. Then suddenly,
as if some freak of nature had robbed these men of their senses,
they drew their swords and the fight was on. I cannot tell you
what set them at odds. But I can say I would rather have lost my
legs in battle than be part of this evening's uproar.]
OTHELLO: How comes it, Michael, you are thus forgot? [How comes it, Michael, that you
forgot your self-discipline and manners?]
CASSIO: I pray you, pardon me; I cannot
OTHELLO: Worthy Montano, you were wont [inclined to] be
The gravity and stillness of your youth
The world hath noted, and your name is great
In mouths of wisest censure: what’s the matter,
That you unlace your reputation thus
And spend your rich opinion for the name
Of a night-brawler? give me answer to it.
MONTANO: Worthy Othello, I am hurt to danger [I am severely injured];
Your officer, Iago, can inform you,
While I spare speech, which something now offends me [it pains me to talk],
Of all that I do know; nor know I aught [anything]
By me that’s said or done amiss [improperly]
Unless self-charity be sometimes a vice,
And to defend ourselves it be a sin
When violence assails us.
[Unless . . . assails us: Unless
looking out for yourself is a vice and defending yourself
against violence is a sin]
OTHELLO: Now, by heaven,
My blood begins my safer guides to rule,
And passion, having my best judgment collied,
Assays to lead the way. If I once stir,
[My blood . . . the way: My
passion begins to rule my common sense and, having befouled my
best judgment, attempts to lead the way.]
Or do but lift this arm, the best of you
Shall sink in my rebuke. Give me to know
How this foul rout began, who set it on;
And he that is approv’d [found
guilty] in this offence,
Though he had twinn’d with me—both at a birth—[had been my twin brother]
Shall lose me. What! in a town of war,
Yet wild, the people’s hearts brimful of fear,
To manage [to have to deal with]
private and domestic quarrel,
In night, and on the court and guard of safety!
’Tis monstrous. Iago, who began ’t?
MONTANO: If partially affin’d, or leagu’d in
Thou dost deliver more or less than truth,
Thou art no soldier.
[If partially . . . soldier: If
you are a friend of Cassio, or if you favor him because he is a
fellow officer, be aware that you are no soldier if you don't
tell the truth about his involvement in this fray.]
IAGO: Touch me not so near;
I had rather have this tongue cut from my mouth
Than it should do offence to Michael Cassio;
Yet, I persuade myself, [that]
to speak the truth
Shall nothing wrong him [will
not harm him]. Thus it is, general. [Here is what happened, in general.]
Montano and myself being in speech [conversing],
There comes a fellow crying out for help,
And Cassio following with determin’d sword
To execute [wield; use]
upon him. Sir, this gentleman
Steps in to Cassio, and entreats his pause [asks him to sheath his sword];
Myself the crying fellow did pursue,
[Myself . . . pursue: I pursued
the crying fellow]
Lest by his clamour, as it so fell out,
The town might fall in fright; he, swift of
Outran my purpose [outran me],
and I return’d the rather
For that I heard the clink and fall of swords,
And Cassio high in oath [Cassio
cursing], which till to-night
I ne’er might say before. When I came back,—
For this was brief,—I found them close together,
At blow and thrust, even as again they were
When you yourself did part them.
More of this matter can I not report:
But men are men; the best sometimes forget:
Though Cassio did some little wrong to him,
As men in rage strike those that wish them best,
Yet, surely Cassio, I believe, receiv’d
From him that fled some strange indignity [insult],
Which patience could not pass.
OTHELLO: I know, Iago,
Thy honesty and love doth mince [moderate;
play down] this matter,
Making it light to Cassio. Cassio, I love thee;
But never more be officer of mine.
Enter DESDEMONA, attended.
Look! if my gentle love be not rais’d up;
[To CASSIO.] I’ll make thee an example.
DESDEMONA: What’s the matter?
OTHELLO: All’s well now, sweeting; come away to
Sir, for your hurts, myself will be your
Lead him off. [MONTANO is led off.
Iago, look with care about the town,
And silence those whom this vile brawl
Come, Desdemona; ’tis the soldiers’ life,
To have their balmy slumbers wak’d with strife. [Exeunt all
but IAGO and CASSIO.
IAGO: What! are you hurt, lieutenant?
CASSIO: Ay; past all surgery.
IAGO: Marry, heaven forbid!
CASSIO: Reputation, reputation, reputation! O! I have lost
my reputation. I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what
remains is bestial. My reputation, Iago, my
IAGO: As I am an honest man, I thought you had received some
bodily wound; there is more offence in that than in reputation.
Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without
merit, and lost without deserving: you have lost no reputation at
all, unless you repute yourself such a loser. What! man; there are
ways to recover the general again; you are but now cast in his
mood, a punishment more in policy than in malice; even so as one
would beat his offenceless dog to affright an imperious lion. Sue
to him again, and he is yours.
CASSIO: I will rather sue to be despised than to deceive so
good a commander with so slight, so drunken, and so indiscreet an
officer. Drunk! and speak parrot! and squabble, swagger, swear,
and discourse[ speak]
fustian [pompous language]
with one’s own shadow! O thou invisible spirit of wine! if thou
hast no name to be known by, let us call thee
IAGO: What was he that you followed with your sword? What
had he done to you?
CASSIO: I know not.
IAGO: Is ’t possible?
CASSIO: I remember a mass of things, but nothing distinctly;
a quarrel, but nothing wherefore [nothing
about why]. O God! that men should put an enemy in their
mouths to steal away their brains; that we should, with joy,
pleasance, revel, and applause, transform ourselves into
IAGO: Why, but you are now well enough; how came you thus
CASSIO: It hath pleased the devil drunkenness to give place
to the devil wrath; one unperfectness shows me another, to make me
frankly despise myself.
IAGO: Come, you are too severe a moraler [one who expresses an opinion or
judgment on morals; moralizer]. As the time, the place,
and the condition of this country stands, I could heartily wish
this had not befallen, but since it is as it is, mend it for your
CASSIO: I will ask him for my place again; he shall tell me
I am a drunkard! Had I as many mouths as Hydra, such an answer
would stop them all. To be now a sensible man, by and by a fool,
and presently a beast! O strange! Every inordinate [excessive] cup [that I drank] is unblessed
and the ingredient is a devil.
[Hydra: In Greek mythology, a
monster with nine heads. If one head was cut off, two would grow
in its place.]
IAGO: Come, come; good wine is a good familiar creature if
it be well used; exclaim no more against it. And, good lieutenant,
I think you think I love you.
CASSIO: I have well approved it, sir [I am well aware of that, sir].
I drunk! [What shame—I a drunk!]
IAGO: You or any man living may be drunk at some time, man.
I’ll tell you what you shall do. Our general’s wife is now the
general: I may say so in this respect, for that he hath devoted
and given up himself to the contemplation, mark, and denotement of
her parts and graces [Our
general . . . graces: Desdemona has Othello under the spell of
her charms. Consequently, he devotes a great deal of attention
to her]: confess yourself freely to her; importune her;
she’ll help to put you in your place again. She is of so free, so
kind, so apt, so blessed a disposition, that she holds it a vice
in her goodness not to do more than she is requested. This broken
joint between you and her husband entreat her to splinter [repair using splints]; and my
fortunes against any lay [wager;
bet] worth naming, this crack of your love shall grow
stronger than it was before.
CASSIO: You advise me well.
IAGO: I protest [raise my
voice in your defense], in the sincerity of love and
CASSIO: I think it freely; and betimes [early] in the morning I will
beseech the virtuous Desdemona to undertake [work; speak] for me. I am
desperate of my fortunes if they check me here [I am deeply worried that what I did
tonight will ruin my career.]
IAGO: You are in the right. Good night, lieutenant; I must
to the watch.
CASSIO: Good night, honest Iago!
IAGO: And what’s he then that says I play the
When this advice is free I give and honest,
Probal [probable] to
thinking and indeed the course
To win the Moor again? For ’tis most easy
The inclining Desdemona to
In any honest suit; she’s fram’d [made]
As the free elements. And then for her
To win the Moor, were ’t to renounce his
All seals and symbols of redeemed sin,
His soul is so enfetter’d to her love,
That she may make, unmake, do what she list,
Even as her appetite shall play the god
With his weak function. How am I then a villain
[And what's . . . weak function:
Who can say I play the villain when I give good advice that
could help Cassio redeem himself? Let's face it. Desdemona is
easy to persuade to your side. She rivals nature itself with all
of her good qualities. I'll bet that Othello would have
renounced his baptism as a Christian to win her. His soul is so
attached to her that she can do whatever she wants and he will
approve her action.]
To counsel Cassio to this parallel course,
Directly to his good? Divinity of hell!
When devils will the blackest sins put on,
They do suggest at first with heavenly shows,
[When . . . shows: Before devils
commit the blackest sins, they pretend to be angels.]
As I do now; for while this honest fool [Cassio]
Plies Desdemona to repair his fortunes,
And she for him pleads strongly to the Moor,
I’ll pour this pestilence into [Othello's]
That she repeals him for her body’s lust [that she rejects Othello and takes
Cassio's side out of lust for his body];
And, by how much she strives to do him good,
She shall undo her credit with the Moor.
So will I turn her virtue into pitch [sin; blackness],
And out of her own goodness make the net
That shall enmesh them all.
How now, Roderigo!
RODERIGO: I do follow here in the chase, not like a hound
that hunts, but one that fills up the cry. My money is almost
spent; I have been to-night exceedingly well cudgelled; and I
think the issue will be, I shall have so much experience for my
pains; and so, with no money at all and a little more wit, return
again to Venice.
[I do . . . Venice: I have been
involved in the events tonight like a barking hound that follows
the pack but does not hunt. I have spent almost all my money and
suffered a beating. After all the pains I have endured and
having little money, I am now smart enough to give up and return
IAGO: How poor are they that have not
What wound did ever heal but by degrees?
Thou know’st we work by wit and not by
And wit depends on dilatory time [time
to plan the next move; patient waiting].
Does ’t not go well? Cassio hath beaten thee,
And thou by that small hurt hast cashiered Cassio.
[And thou . . . Cassio: But your
beating caused Cassio's discharge as second-in-command.]
Though other things grow fair against the sun,
Yet fruits that blossom first will first be
Content thyself awhile.
[Though . . . awhile: Other
things grow well in the sunlight. But our plan to undo Cassio
blossomed early and ripened. It won't be long until the fruit
falls. So be content awhile.]
By the mass [I swear by the holy
mass, the main act of worship in the Roman Catholic Church],
Pleasure and action make
the hours seem short.
Retire thee; go where thou art billeted [quartered; lodged]:
Away, I say; thou shalt know more hereafter:
Nay, get thee gone. [Exit RODERIGO.] Two things are to
My wife must move [speak up]
for Cassio to her mistress;
I’ll set her on;
Myself the while to draw the Moor apart,
And bring him jump when he may Cassio find
Soliciting his wife: ay, that’s the way:
Dull not device by coldness and delay. [Exit.
[Myself . . . delay: Meanwhile, I
will confer with Othello at a time when, through my clever
machinations, Cassio appears to be talking intimately with
Desdemona. Othello will jump with surprise. Be assured that I
will not ruin my plan with indecision and delay.]
Act 3, Scene 1
Cyprus. Before the
Enter CASSIO and some Musicians.
CASSIO: Masters, play here, I will content [pay you for] your
Something that’s brief; and bid ‘Good morrow, general [to put him in a good mood].’
[Musicians were often called upon
to serenade a newly married couple.]
Enter Clown. 5
Clo. Why, masters, have your instruments been in Naples,
that they speak i’ the nose thus?
[Why . . . thus: This line
presents an allusion to the venereal disease syphilis, which can
cause destructive nose tumors. Syphilis was commonplace in
First Mus. How, sir, how?
Clo. Are these, I pray you,
First Mus. Ay, marry, are they, sir.
Clo. O! thereby hangs a tail.
First Mus. Whereby hangs a tale, sir?
Clo. Marry, sir, by many a wind-instrument that I know. But,
masters, here’s money for you; and the general so likes your
music, that he desires you, for love’s sake, to make no more noise
First Mus. Well, sir, we will not.
Clo. If you have any music that may not be heard, to ’t
again; but, as they say, to hear music the general does not
First Mus. We have none such, sir.
Clo. Then put up your pipes in your bag, for I’ll away. Go;
vanish into air; away! [Exeunt Musicians.
CASSIO: Dost thou hear, mine honest
Clo. No, I hear not your honest friend; I hear
CASSIO: Prithee, keep up [put
away] thy quillets [puns
or wisecracks, which appear in lines 10-23, 14, and 18 of this
scene]. There’s a poor piece of gold for thee. If the
gentlewoman that attends the general’s wife be stirring, tell her
there’s one Cassio entreats her a little favour of speech: wilt
thou do this?
Clo. She is stirring, sir: if she will stir hither, I shall
seem to notify unto her.
CASSIO: Do, good my friend [my
good friend]. [Exit Clown.
In happy time, Iago.
IAGO: You have not been a-bed, then?
CASSIO: Why, no; the day had broke
Before we parted. I have made bold, Iago,
To send in to your wife; my suit [request]
Is, that she will to virtuous Desdemona
Procure me some access.
IAGO: I’ll send her to you presently;
And I’ll devise a mean [means;
way] to draw the Moor
Out of the way, that your converse and business
May be more free.
CASSIO: I humbly thank you for ’t. [Exit IAGO.
I never knew
A Florentine more kind and honest.
EMILIA: Good morrow, good lieutenant: I am
For your displeasure; but all will soon be well.
The general and his wife are talking of it,
And she speaks for you stoutly: the Moor replies
That he you hurt is of great fame in Cyprus
And great affinity [highly
respected], and that in wholesome
He might not but refuse you [he
believes he must not reinstate you]; but he protests he
And needs no other suitor but his likings
To take the saf’st occasion by the front
To bring you in again.
[And needs . . . again: He needs
nothing more to plead your case except his feelings for you. He
would like to find a way to restore you as second-in-command.]
CASSIO: Yet, I beseech you,
If you think fit, or that it may be done,
Give me advantage of some brief discourse
With Desdemona alone.
EMILIA: Pray you, come in:
I will bestow [place] you
where you shall have time
To speak your bosom [mind]
CASSIO: I am much bound to you.
Act 3, Scene 2
A room in the castle.
Enter OTHELLO, IAGO, and Gentleman.
OTHELLO: These letters give, Iago, to the
And by him do my duties to the senate;
That done, I will be walking on the works;
Repair there to me.
[These letters . . . to me: Iago,
deliver these letters to the captain of my ship and tell him to
take them back to Venice. Tell him also to convey my kindest
regards to the senate. After you return from the shore, meet
with me on the top of the castle, where I will be walking.]
IAGO: Well, my good lord, I’ll do ’t.
OTHELLO: This fortification, gentlemen, shall we see
GENTLEMAN: We’ll wait upon your lordship. [Exeunt.
Act 3, Scene 3
Before the castle.
Enter DESDEMONA, CASSIO, and EMILIA.
DESDEMONA: Be thou assur’d, good Cassio, I will
All my abilities in thy behalf.
EMILIA: Good madam, do: I warrant it grieves my
As if the case were his.
DESDEMONA: O! that’s an honest fellow. Do not doubt,
But I will have my lord and you again
As friendly as you were.
CASSIO: Bounteous madam,
Whatever shall become of Michael Cassio,
He’s never anything but your true servant.
DESDEMONA: I know ’t; I thank you. You do love my
You have known him long; and be you well assur’d
He shall in strangeness stand no further off
Than in a politic distance [than
at a prudent distance so as not give the appearance of showing
CASSIO: Ay, but, lady,
That policy may either last so long,
Or feed upon such nice and waterish diet [or be so watered down],
Or breed itself so out of circumstance [or become so well established after a time],
That, I being absent and my place supplied,
My general will forget my love and service.
DESDEMONA: Do not doubt [worry
about] that; before Emilia here
I give thee warrant of thy place [I
promise that you will regain your former position].
If I do vow a friendship, I’ll perform it
To the last article; my lord shall never rest;
I’ll watch him tame, and talk him out of
His bed shall seem a school, his board a shrift;
I’ll intermingle every thing he does
With Cassio’s suit. Therefore be merry, Cassio;
[I'll watch . . . Cassio's
suit: I'll keep after him until he becomes tame and thus easy to
bend to my wishes. He won't have the patience to keep refusing
me. Our bedroom shall become a place for a discussion of your
request for reinstatement. I will intermingle the disposition of
your case with everything he does.]
For thy solicitor [Desdemona]
shall rather die
Than give thy cause away.
Enter OTHELLO, and IAGO at a distance.
EMILIA: Madam, here comes my lord.
CASSIO: Madam, I’ll take my leave.
DESDEMONA: Why, stay, and hear me speak.
CASSIO: Madam, not now; I am very ill at
Unfit for mine own purposes.
DESDEMONA: Well, do your discretion. [Exit
IAGO: Ha! I like not that.
OTHELLO: What dost thou say?
IAGO: Nothing, my lord: or if—I know not
OTHELLO: Was not that Cassio parted from my
IAGO: Cassio, my lord? No, sure, I cannot think
That he would steal away so guilty-like,
Seeing you coming.
[That he . . . coming: These two
lines demonstrate Iago's pattern of lying to others while
pretending to be a paragon a virtue. Here he is planting a
suggestion in Othello's mind that Cassio committed some
impropriety with Desdemona, then ran off when he saw Othello
OTHELLO: I do believe ’twas he.
DESDEMONA: How now, my lord!
I have been talking with a suitor here,
A man that languishes [suffers]
in your displeasure.
OTHELLO: Who is ’t you mean?
DESDEMONA: Why, your lieutenant, Cassio. Good my
If I have any grace or power to move you,
His present reconciliation take;
For if he be not one that truly loves you,
That errs in ignorance and not in cunning [he made a mistake, but it was not
I have no judgment in an honest face.
I prithee call him back.
OTHELLO: Went he hence now?
DESDEMONA: Ay, sooth [true];
That he hath left part of his grief with me,
To suffer with him. Good love, call him back.
OTHELLO: Not now, sweet Desdemona; some other
DESDEMONA: But shall ’t be shortly?
OTHELLO: The sooner, sweet, for you.
DESDEMONA: Shall ’t be to-night at supper?
OTHELLO: No, not to-night.
DESDEMONA: To-morrow dinner then?
OTHELLO: I shall not dine at home;
I meet the captains at the citadel.
DESDEMONA: Why then, to-morrow night; or Tuesday
On Tuesday noon, or night; on Wednesday morn:
I prithee [pray thee; beg thee]
name the time, but let it not
Exceed three days: in faith, he’s penitent;
And yet his trespass, in our common reason [common sense]—
Save that, they say, the wars must make examples
Out of their best,—is not almost a fault
To incur a private check [reprimand].
When shall he come?
Tell me, Othello: I wonder in my soul,
What you could ask me that I should deny [refuse],
Or stand so mammering on [mammering
on: hesitating; avoiding the issue at hand]. What!
That came a wooing with you, and so many a time,
When I have spoke of you dispraisingly [critically],
Hath ta’en your part; to have so much to do
To bring him in! Trust me, I could do much.—
[to have . . . do much: Why do I
have to plead this way to bring him back into your good graces?
I could do much—]
OTHELLO: Prithee, no more; let him come when he
I will deny thee nothing.
[Prithee . . . nothing: Othello's
answer seems to express irritation and condescension. It is as
if he is addressing a child demanding that his parents buy him a
certain toy. Desdemona's response, which follows, supports this
interpretation of Othello's answer.]
DESDEMONA: Why, this is not a boon [favor];
’Tis as I should entreat you [ask
you to] wear your gloves,
Or feed on nourishing dishes, or keep you warm,
Or sue to [urge] you to
do a peculiar profit
To your own person; nay, when I have a suit
Wherein I mean to touch your love indeed,
It shall be full of poise and difficult weight [shall . . . . weight: shall be
weighty in the balance scales],
And fearful to be granted.
OTHELLO: I will deny thee nothing:
Whereon, I do beseech thee, grant me this,
To leave me but a little to myself [to allow me a little time to be alone].
DESDEMONA: Shall I deny you? no: farewell, my lord. [Would I refuse any of your requests?
Of course not. Farewell, my lord.]
OTHELLO: Farewell, my Desdemona: I’ll come to thee
DESDEMONA: Emilia, come. Be as your fancies teach
Whate’er you be, I am obedient. [Exit, with
OTHELLO: Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul
But I do love thee! and when I love thee not,
Chaos is come again.
[Excellent . . . come again:
Excellent woman! Even if hell threatens my soul, I will continue
to love you. If I ever stop loving you, my universe will turn
IAGO: My noble lord,—
OTHELLO: What dost thou say, Iago?
IAGO: Did Michael Cassio, when you woo’d my
Know of your love?
OTHELLO: He did, from first to last: why dost thou
IAGO: But for a satisfaction of my
No further harm.
OTHELLO: Why of thy thought, Iago? [What exactly is your thought?]
IAGO: I did not think he had been acquainted with
OTHELLO: O! yes; and went between [was in contact with; carried messages for] us
OTHELLO: Indeed! ay, indeed; discern’st thou aught in that?
[do you notice anything unusual
Is he not honest?
IAGO: Honest, my lord?
OTHELLO: Honest! ay, honest.
IAGO: My lord, for aught I know. [for . . . know: to be best of my knowledge].
OTHELLO: What dost thou think?
IAGO: Think, my lord!
OTHELLO: Think, my lord!
By heaven, he echoes me,
As if there were some monster in his thought
Too hideous to be shown. Thou dost mean something: [You are trying to tell me
I heard thee say but [just]
now, thou lik’dst not that,
When Cassio left my wife; what didst not like?
And when I told thee he was of my counsel [he was close to me]
In my whole course of wooing, thou criedst [cried],
And didst contract and purse thy brow together,
As if thou then hadst shut up in thy brain
Some horrible conceit [horrible
news about Cassio; horrible image of Cassio]. If thou
dost love me,
Show me thy thought.
IAGO: My lord, you know I love you.
OTHELLO: I think thou dost;
And, for I know thou art full of love and
And weigh’st thy words before thou giv’st them
Therefore these stops [hesitations]
of thine fright me the more;
For such things in a false disloyal knave
Are tricks of custom [are
expected actions], but in a man that’s
They are close delations, working from the heart
That passion cannot rule.
[close delations . . . rule:
Veiled accusations against Cassio. You want to hide what you
know, but your conscience won't let you.]
IAGO: For Michael Cassio,
I dare be sworn I think that he is honest.
OTHELLO: I think so too.
IAGO: Men should be what they seem;
Or those that be not, would they might seem none!
[those . . . none: Those that are
not what they appear to be should not pretend to be other than
OTHELLO: Certain, men should be what they
IAGO: Why then, I think Cassio’s an honest
OTHELLO: Nay, yet there’s more in this.
I pray thee, speak to me as to thy thinkings,
As thou dost ruminate [ponder],
and give thy worst of thoughts
The worst of words.
IAGO: Good my lord, pardon me;
Though I am bound to every act of duty,
I am not bound to that all slaves are free to. [I am not bound to reveal my thoughts
any more than a slave is bound to do so. Even a slave has a
right to keep his thoughts to himself.]
Utter my thoughts? Why, say they are vile and
As where’s that palace whereinto foul things
Sometimes intrude not? who has a breast so pure
But some uncleanly apprehensions
Keep leets and law days, and in session sit
With meditations lawful?
[Why, say . . . lawful: Suppose
my thoughts are vile and false. I then ask you this: Show me a
person into whose mind foul things do not intrude. The fact is,
no one has a breast so pure that it can stand guiltless before
OTHELLO: Thou dost conspire against thy friend [me], Iago,
If thou but think’st him wrong’d, and mak’st his
A stranger to thy thoughts.
IAGO: I do beseech you,
Though I perchance am vicious [far
off; wrong] in my guess,—
As, I confess, it is my nature’s plague
To spy into abuses, and oft my jealousy [instinct; suspicion]
Shapes faults that are not [sees
faults where they do not exist],—that your wisdom
From one [Iago refers to
himself] that so imperfectly conceits [imagines],
Would take no notice, nor build yourself a trouble
Out of his scattering and unsure observance.
[nor build . . . observance:
You'd be wise not to concern yourself with my casual and
It were not for your quiet nor your good,
Nor for my manhood, honesty, or wisdom,
To let you know my thoughts.
[It were . . . thoughts: It would
not be helpful to you, or manly for me, to inform you of my
OTHELLO: What dost thou mean?
IAGO: Good name in man and woman, dear my
Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something,
’Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.
OTHELLO: By heaven, I’ll know thy
IAGO: You cannot, if my heart were in your
Nor shall not, whilst ’tis in my custody.
IAGO: O! beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-ey’d [eyed]
monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on [mock . .
. on: mock its victims]; that cuckold [man whose wife is unfaithful]
lives in bliss
Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger [Who, aware of his wife's wrongdoing,
does not love her];
But, O! what damned minutes tells he o’er
Who dotes, yet doubts; suspects, yet soundly
[But . . . loves: But think of
the misery of the man who adores his wife but suspects she is
OTHELLO: O misery!
IAGO: Poor and content is rich, and rich
But riches fineless [unlimited]
is as poor as winter
To him that ever fears he shall be poor.
[Poor and . . . be poor: To be
poor and content is to be rich. But to be rich beyond measure is
to be as poor as the barrenness of winter to him who constantly
worries about losing his riches. (Iago is trying to plant a
suggestion in Othello's mind that he could lose his wealth,
Desdemona, to Michael Cassio.]
Good heaven, the souls of all my tribe defend
OTHELLO: Why, why is this? [Why
are you saying these things?]
Think’st thou I’d make a life of jealousy,
To follow still the changes of the moon
With fresh suspicions? No; to be once in doubt
Is once to be resolved. Exchange me for a goat
When I shall turn the business of my soul
To such exsufflicate [exaggerated]
and blown surmises,
Matching thy inference. ’Tis not to make me
[Think'st . . . inference: Do you
think I would become jealous of Desdemona every time I see a
change in our relationship? You might as well exchange me for a
goat if you think I am going to pay attention to silly surmises
against her reputation.]
To say my wife is fair, feeds well, loves
Is free of speech, sings, plays, and dances
Where virtue is, these are more virtuous [She is a virtuous woman, and her
actions and talents only enhance her virtue]:
Nor from mine own weak merits will I draw
The smallest fear, or doubt of her revolt [or doubt of her fidelity];
For she had eyes, and chose me. No, Iago;
I’ll see before I doubt; when I doubt, prove;
And, on the proof, there is no more but this,
Away at once with love or jealousy!
IAGO: I am glad of it; for now I shall have
To show the love and duty that I bear you
With franker spirit [with more
candor and openness]; therefore, as I am bound,
Receive it from me; I speak not yet of proof.
[therefore . . . proof:
Therefore, as I am bound to tell you the naked truth, please
listen to me when I have something to say. I am not saying that
proof now exists that Desdemona has done anything wrong.]
Look to your wife; observe her well with Cassio;
Wear your eye thus, not jealous nor secure [Be an objective, unbiased
observer—not a jealous or overconfident one]:
I would not have your free and noble nature
Out of self-bounty be abus’d; look to ’t:
[I would . . . abus'd: I
wouldn't want your trusting and noble nature, which is the
product of the goodness in your heart, to be abused.]
I know our country disposition well;
In Venice they do let heaven see the pranks
They dare not show their husbands; their best
Is not to leave ’t undone, but keep ’t unknown.
[their best . . . unknown: Their
conscience tells them that they can commit sin as long as they
can keep it hidden.]
OTHELLO: Dost thou say so?
IAGO: She did deceive her father, marrying
And when she seem’d to shake and fear your
She lov’d them most.
OTHELLO: And so she did.
IAGO: Why, go to, then [Why,
there you have it];
She that so young could give out such a seeming [deceit; false appearance],
To seel her father’s eyes up close as oak,
[To seel . . . oak: Seel is a falconry term meaning to sew
together the eyelids of a falcon or hawk to keep it calm during
its training. Oak is a highly dense wood with a very "close"
grain structure. Thus, Iago is saying that Desdemona managed to
close her father's eyes (as tightly as the grains of oak about
one another) to her supposedly wrongful activities.]
He thought ’twas witchcraft [that
made Desdemona love Othello]; but I am much to
I humbly do beseech you of your pardon
For too much loving you.
OTHELLO: I am bound to thee for ever.
IAGO: I see, this hath a little dash’d your
OTHELLO: Not a jot, not a jot.
IAGO: In faith, I fear it has.
I hope you will consider what is spoke
Comes from my love. But, I do see you’re mov’d;
I am to pray you not to strain my speech
To grosser issues nor to larger reach
Than to suspicion.
[I am . . . suspicion: I pray, do
not conclude that what I have been telling you is evidence of
Desdemona's guilt. All I am saying is that you may have reason
to be suspicious of her, but don't impugn her.]
OTHELLO: I will not.
IAGO: Should you do so, my lord,
My speech should fall into such vile success [consequence; result]
As my thoughts aim not at. Cassio’s my worthy
My lord, I see you’re mov’d.
OTHELLO: No, not much mov’d:
I do not think but Desdemona’s honest.
IAGO: Long live she so! and long live you to think
OTHELLO: And, yet, how nature erring from itself,— [how the natural or ordinary course
of things can go wrong]
IAGO: Ay, there’s the point: as, to be bold with
Not to affect many proposed matches
Of her own clime, complexion, and degree,
Whereto, we see, in all things nature tends;
[Not to . . . tends: She did not
accept proposed matches with men of her own kind and complexion,
although one would naturally expect her to accept one of the
Foh! [exclamation of contempt or
scorn] one may smell in such, a will most
Foul disproportion, thoughts unnatural.
But pardon me; I do not in position
Distinctly speak of her, though I may fear
Her will, recoiling to her better judgment,
May fail to match you with her country forms
And happily repent.
[though I . . . repent: Though I
may fear that she will regret not choosing one of her own kind
and regard you as inferior to the typical young gentleman of
OTHELLO: Farewell, farewell: more thou dost perceive, let me
Set on thy wife to observe. Leave me, Iago.
IAGO: My lord, I take my leave.
OTHELLO: Why did I marry? This honest creature,
Sees and knows more, much more, than he unfolds.
IAGO: [Returning.] My lord, I would I might entreat
To scan this thing no further [not
to worry about this thing any more]; leave it to
Although ’tis fit that Cassio have his place [have his old job back as
For, sure he fills it up with great ability,
Yet, if you please to hold him off a while [if you postpone his reinstatement],
You shall by that perceive him and his means:
Note if your lady strain his entertainment
With any strong or vehement importunity;
[Note . . . importunity: Note
whether Desdemona speaks on his behalf with a strong and
Much will be seen in that. In the mean time,
Let me be thought too busy in my fears,
As worthy cause I have to fear I am,
And hold her free, I do beseech your honour.
[In the mean . . . honour: In the
meantime, think of me as a busybody who, in observing people
closely, may see guilt where there is only innocence. So, your
honour, keep believing in her.]
OTHELLO: Fear not my government. [Don't worry about how I manage my
IAGO: I once more take my leave.
OTHELLO: This fellow’s of exceeding
And knows all qualities, with a learned spirit,
Of human dealings; if I do prove her haggard [wild and hard to control, like an
untrained falcon or hawk],
Though that her jesses [straps
attached to the legs of falcons or hawks to keep them from
flying away] were my dear heartstrings,
I’d whistle her off and let her down the wind,
To prey at fortune.
[I'd whistle . . . fortune:
Othello continues to use falconry images with such words as whistle, down the wind, and prey.]
Haply, for [Haply, for:
Perhaps, because] I am black,
And have not those soft [ingratiating; flattering]
parts of conversation
That chamberers [womanizers;
playboys] have, or, for I am declin’d
Into the vale of years [I am no
longer young]—yet that’s not much—
She’s gone, I am abus’d [I am a
victim of unfaithfulness]; and my
Must be to loathe her. O curse of marriage!
That we can call these delicate creatures ours,
And not their appetities. I had rather be a
And live upon the vapour of a dungeon,
Than keep a corner in the thing I love
For others’ uses. Yet,
’tis the plague of great ones;
[I had rather . . . others' uses:
I would rather be a toad that sustains itself on the vapor of a
dungeon than be a man who must content himself with only a
morsel (corner) of the woman I love while other men feed on the
rest of her.]
Prerogativ’d are they less than the base;
’Tis destiny unshunnable, like death:
Even then this forked plague is fated to us
When we do quicken.
[Prerogativ'd . . . qucken: Great
men are cheated on more often than common men. This is a fact.
Being cheated on may be an unavoidable destiny, like death. Even
at the time we are born, fate ascribes this destiny to us.]
Look! where she comes.
If she be false, O! then heaven mocks itself.
I’ll not believe it.
Re-enter DESDEMONA and EMILIA.
DESDEMONA: How now, my dear Othello!
Your dinner and the generous islanders
By you invited, do attend your presence.
OTHELLO: I am to blame.
DESDEMONA: Why do you speak so faintly?
Are you not well?
OTHELLO: I have a pain [headache]
upon my forehead here.
DESDEMONA: Faith, that’s with watching [being overly vigilant; doing your
duty without getting enough sleep]; ’twill away
Let me but bind it hard [wrap it
with a soothing compress], within this
It will be well. [Desdemona
takes out a handkerchief.]
OTHELLO: Your napkin is too little: [She drops her
Let it alone. Come, I’ll go in with you.
DESDEMONA: I am very sorry that you are not well.
[Exeunt OTHELLO and DESDEMONA.
EMILIA: I am glad I have found this
This was her first remembrance from the Moor;
My wayward husband hath a hundred times
Woo’d me to steal it, but she so loves the
For he conjur’d [told]
her she should ever keep it,
That she reserves it evermore about her
To kiss and talk to. I’ll have the work ta’en
And give ’t Iago:
[I'll have . . . Iago: I'll copy
the pattern in it, then give it to Iago.]
What he will do with it heaven knows, not I;
I nothing but to please his fantasy.
IAGO: How now! what do you here alone?
EMILIA: Do not you chide; I have a thing for
IAGO: A thing for me? It is a common
IAGO: To have a foolish wife.
EMILIA: O! is that all? What will you give me
For that same handkerchief?
IAGO: What handkerchief?
EMILIA: What handkerchief!
Why, that the Moor first gave to Desdemona:
That which so often you did bid me steal.
IAGO: Hast stol’n it from her?
EMILIA: No, faith; she let it drop by
And, to the advantage, I, being there, took ’t
Look, here it is.
IAGO: A good wench; give it me.
EMILIA: What will you do with ’t, that you have been so
To have me filch it?
IAGO: Why, what’s that to you? [Snatches
EMILIA: If it be not for some purpose of
Give ’t me again; poor lady! she’ll run mad
When she shall lack it.
IAGO: Be not acknown on ’t [Do
not own up that you know about it]; I have use for
Go, leave me. [Exit EMILIA,
I will in Cassio’s lodging lose this napkin,
And let him find it; trifles light as air
Are to the jealous confirmations strong
As proofs of holy writ [biblical
proofs]; this may do something.
The Moor already changes with my poison [poisonous talk]:
Dangerous conceits [imaginings;
assumptions; suspicions] are in their natures
Which at the first are scarce found to distaste,
But with a little act upon the blood,
Burn like the mines of sulphur. I did say so:
Look! where he comes!
Not poppy [plant from which
opium is derived], nor mandragora [plant from which hallucinogenic
drugs are derived; pronounced man
DRAG or uh],
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
Shall ever medicine [lull]
thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou ow’dst [owned; had;
OTHELLO: Ha! ha! false to me? [Ha! ha! Are you saying that Desdemona was unfaithful to
IAGO: Why, how now, general! no more of
OTHELLO: Avaunt! [Go
away!] be gone! thou hast set me on the rack [instrument of torture that stretched
the body, used figuratively here];
I swear ’tis better to be much abus’d
Than but to know ’t a little.
[I swear . . . little: I swear
that it is better to be betrayed by your wife than to have
gnawing suspicions that she is betraying you.]
IAGO: How now, my lord!
OTHELLO: What sense had I of her stol’n hours of
I saw ’t not, thought it not, it harm’d not me;
I slept the next night well, was free and merry;
I found not Cassio’s kisses on her lips;
[What sense . . . lips: I had no
idea that she was stealing away to satisfy her lust with Cassio.
I did not see what she was doing, and I did not think about what
she was doing. Consequently, I was content and slept well. I did
not suspect that any hint of Cassio's kisses was on her lips.]
He that is robb’d, not wanting what is stol’n,
Let him not know ’t and he’s not robb’d at all.
[He that . . . at all: A
man who is robbed but doesn't care about what was taken is a man
who was not robbed in the first place.]
IAGO: I am sorry to hear this.
OTHELLO: I had been happy, if the general
Pioners [pioneers: soldiers of
the lowest rank] and all, had tasted her sweet
So I had nothing known. O! now, for ever
Farewell the tranquil mind; farewell content!
[I had . . . content: I would
have been happy if everyone in the army camp, including the
pioneers, had gone to bed with her as long as I had no knowledge
of what was going on. But now, it's another story. My mind is no
longer at ease. Farewell content!]
Farewell the plumèd troop and the big wars
That make ambition virtue! O, farewell!
Farewell the neighing steed, and the shrill trump [trumpet],
The spirit-stirring drum, the ear-piercing fife,
The royal banner, and all quality [respect and honor of military rank],
Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!
And, O you mortal engines [deadly
cannons], whose rude throats
The immortal Jove’s dread clamours counterfeit,
[The immortal . . . counterfeit:
Imitate the booming commands of the immortal Jupiter. Jupiter,
or Jove, was the Roman name for Zeus, the king of the gods in
ancient Greek and Roman mythology.]
Farewell! Othello’s occupation’s gone! [My job as a military commander is over.]
IAGO: Is it possible, my lord?
OTHELLO: Villain, be sure thou prove my love a whore,
Be sure of it; give me the ocular proof;
Or, by the worth of mine eternal soul,
Thou hadst been better have been born a dog
Than answer my wak’d wrath.
[Villain . . . wrath: Villain, be
sure you can prove that my wife is a whore. I want proof that I
can see. If you can't provide such proof, by my eternal soul I
will make you wish that you had been born a dog rather than face
IAGO: Is ’t come to this?
OTHELLO: Make me to see ’t; or, at the least, so prove
That the probation bear no hinge nor loop
To hang a doubt on; or woe upon thy life!
[That the . . . life: that the
proof is truly genuine and unassailable. Otherwise, woe upon
IAGO: My noble lord,—
OTHELLO: If thou dost slander her and torture
Never pray more; abandon all remorse;
On horror’s head horrors accumulate;
Do deeds to make heaven weep, all earth amaz’d;
For nothing canst thou to damnation add
Greater than that.
[If though . . . than that: If
you are telling lies about Desdemona, you are committing deeds
more heinous than the worst crimes that send men to the deepest
depths of hell.]
IAGO: O grace! O heaven forgive me!
Are you a man! have you a soul or sense?
God be wi’ you; take mine office. O wretched
That liv’st to make thine honesty a vice.
O monstrous world! Take note, take note, O
To be direct and honest is not safe.
I thank you for this profit, and, from hence
I’ll love no friend, sith [since]
love breeds such offence.
[O grace . . . offence: Heaven
forgive me for telling the truth. Are you a man of common
sense? If so, God be with you. As for myself, you might as well
get rid of me. I am a wretched fool whose honesty becomes a
vice. O world, it's not safe anymore to tell the truth.
Henceforth, I won't love anyone as a friend, since my love seems
to offend people.]
OTHELLO: Nay, stay; thou shouldst be
IAGO: I should be wise; for honesty’s a
And loses that [what] it
OTHELLO: By the world,
I think my wife be honest and think she is not;
I think that thou art just and think thou art
I’ll have some proof. Her name, that was as
As Dian’s visage, is now begrim’d and black
[Dian: Diana, the Roman name for
Artemis, the goddess of the moon, of hunters and wild animals,
and of chastity.]
As mine own face. If there be cords or knives,
Poison or fire or suffocating streams,
[cords . . . streams: These are
all devices or means to commit murder. For example, cords are
used for strangulation.]
I’ll not endure it. Would I were satisfied!
IAGO: I see, sir, you are eaten up with
I do repent me that I put it to you.
You would be satisfied?
OTHELLO: Would! nay, I will.
IAGO: And may; but how? how satisfied, my
Would you, the supervisor, grossly gape on;
Behold her tupp’d?
[how satisfied . . . tupp'd: What
proof would satisfy you? Do you wish to witness her wrongdoing?
Would you like to watch as another man makes love to (tups)
OTHELLO: Death and damnation! O!
IAGO: It were a tedious difficulty, I
To bring them to that prospect; damn them then,
If ever mortal eyes do see them bolster
More than their own! What then? how then?
What shall I say? Where’s satisfaction?
[It were . . . satisfaction: It
would be difficult to arrange for Cassio and Desdemona to be
together. Moreover, the eyes that watch them from hiding would
be damned. So what is there to do? How would you get your
It is impossible you should see this,
Were they as prime as goats, as hot as monkeys,
As salt as wolves in pride, and fools as gross
As ignorance made drunk; but yet, I say,
If imputation, and strong circumstances,
Which lead directly to the door of truth,
Will give you satisfaction, you may have it.
[It is impossible . . . have it:
It is impossible for you to observe them together even if they
were like animals in heat or were dazed with drink. However, it
may be possible to impugn them with circumstantial evidence.]
OTHELLO: Give me a living reason she’s
IAGO: I do not like the office [I do not like the idea of being a tattletale];
But, sith [since] I am
enter’d [involved] in
this cause so far,
Prick’d to ’t [drawn to it]
by foolish honesty and love,
I will go on. I lay [shared
sleeping quarters] with Cassio lately;
And, being troubled with a raging tooth,
I could not sleep.
There are a kind of men so loose of soul
That in their sleeps will mutter their affairs;
One of this kind is Cassio.
In sleep I heard him say, ‘Sweet Desdemona,
Let us be wary, let us hide our loves!’
And then, sir, would he gripe and wring my hand,
Cry, ‘O, sweet creature!’ and then kiss me hard,
As if he pluck’d up kisses by the roots,
That grew upon my lips; then laid his leg
Over my thigh, and sigh’d, and kiss’d; and then
Cried, ‘Cursed fate, that gave thee to the
OTHELLO: O monstrous! monstrous!
IAGO: Nay, this was but his dream.
OTHELLO: But this denoted a foregone conclusion [something that had already take
’Tis a shrewd doubt, though it be but a dream.
IAGO: And this may help to thicken other
That do demonstrate thinly.
OTHELLO: I’ll tear her all to pieces.
IAGO: Nay, but be wise; yet we see nothing done [we have not seen her do anything
She may be honest [faithful]
yet. Tell me but this:
Have you not sometimes seen a handkerchief
Spotted with strawberries in your wife’s hand?
OTHELLO: I gave her such a one; ’twas my first
IAGO: I know not that; but such a
I am sure it was your wife’s—did I to-day
See Cassio wipe his beard with.
OTHELLO: If it be that,—
IAGO: If it be that, or any that was hers,
It speaks against her with the other proofs.
OTHELLO: O! that the slave had forty thousand lives;
One is too poor, too weak for my revenge.
[O! that the . . . revenge: O!
that Cassio had forty thousand lives so I could kill him forty
thousand times; to kill
him once would be insufficient to satisfy me.]
Now do I see ’tis true. Look here, Iago;
All my fond love thus do I blow to heaven:
Arise, black vengeance, from the hollow hell!
Yield up, O love! thy crown and hearted throne
To tyrannous hate. Swell, bosom, with thy
For ’tis of aspics’ tongues!
[Yield . . . tongues: Desdemona,
give up your crown and throne, for I now reject you with
tyrannous hate. My bosom swells with bitterness toward you, for
it is full of deadly snakes—asps, that would bite you.]
IAGO: Yet be content.
OTHELLO: O! blood, blood, blood!
IAGO: Patience, I say; your mind, perhaps, may
OTHELLO: Never, Iago. Like to the Pontick sea [Black Sea, an inland sea between
Asia and Europe],
Whose icy current and compulsive course
Ne’er feels retiring ebb, but keeps due on
To the Propontic and the Hellespont,
[Propontic: Sea of Marmara, known in ancient
times as the Propontis. The body of the sea lies within the
borders of Turkey. It is connected to the Black Sea by the
Bosphorus strait. Hellespont:
Ancient name for the Dardanelles, a strait connecting the Sea of
Marmara to the Aegean Sea.]
Even so my bloody thoughts, with violent pace,
Shall ne’er look back, ne’er ebb to [turn into] humble love,
Till that a capable and wide revenge
Swallow them up. [Kneels.
Now, by yond marble heaven,
In the due reverence of a sacred vow
I here engage my words.
[Now, by . . . words: Now I
swear by heaven that I will gain my revenge.]
IAGO: Do not rise yet. [Kneels.
Witness, you ever-burning lights above!
You elements that clip us round about!
Witness, that here Iago doth give up
The execution of his wit, hands, heart,
To wrong’d Othello’s service! Let him command,
And to obey shall be in me remorse,
What bloody business ever.
[Witness, you . . . business
ever: May heaven and the passing clouds be witnesses to this
oath: that I, Iago, do give up my mind, my hands, my heart to
the service of wronged Othello. His command shall be to me
an obligation to carry out, even if the business is bloody.]
OTHELLO: I greet thy love,
Not with vain thanks, but with acceptance
And will upon the instant put thee to ’t:
Within these three days let me hear thee say
That Cassio’s not alive.
IAGO: My friend is dead; ’tis done at your
But let her live.
[My friend . . . live: Cassio
will die at your request. But let Desdemona live.]
OTHELLO: Damn her, lewd minx! O, damn her!
Come, go with me apart; I will withdraw
To furnish me with some swift means of death
For the fair devil. Now art thou my lieutenant.
[Come . . . lieutenant: Come,
accompany me while I concoct a swift means of death for the fair
devil who is my wife. By the way, you are now my
IAGO: I am your own for ever.
Act 3, Scene 4
Before the castle.
Enter DESDEMONA, EMILIA, and CLOWN.
DESDEMONA: Do you know, sirrah [mister, fellow], where Lieutenant Cassio
[where . . . lies: which
room in the castle Cassio occupies]
CLOWN: I dare not say he lies any where.
DESDEMONA: Why, man?
CLOWN: He is a soldier; and for one to say a soldier lies,
is stabbing [is the same as
DESDEMONA: Go to [Be
serious]; where lodges he?
CLOWN: To tell you where he lodges is to tell you where I
DESDEMONA: Can anything be made of this?
CLOWN: I know not where he lodges, and for me to devise a
lodging, and say he lies here or he lies there, were to lie in
mine own throat.
DESDEMONA: Can you inquire him out, and be edified [informed] by
CLOWN: I will catechize [question
closely and carefully] the world for him; that is, make
questions, and by them answer.
DESDEMONA: Seek him, bid him come hither; tell him I have
moved my lord in his
behalf [caused Othello to soften
toward Cassio], and hope all will be
CLOWN: To do this is within the compass of man’s wit, and
therefore I will attempt the doing it.
DESDEMONA: Where should I lose [did I lose] that handkerchief,
EMILIA: I know not, madam.
DESDEMONA: Believe me, I had rather have lost my
Full of cruzadoes [crusadoes,
Portuguese coins of silver or gold]; and, but my noble
Is true of mind, and made of no such baseness
As jealous creatures are, it were enough
To put him to ill thinking.
EMILIA: Is he not jealous?
DESDEMONA: Who! he? I think the sun where he was
Drew all such humours from him.
EMILIA: Look! where he comes.
DESDEMONA: I will not leave him now till
Be call’d to him.
How is ’t with you, my lord?
OTHELLO: Well, my good lady. [Aside.] O!
hardness to dissemble [pretend].
How do you, Desdemona?
DESDEMONA: Well, my good lord.
OTHELLO: Give me your hand. This hand is moist [perhaps indicating passion or
desire], my lady.
DESDEMONA: It yet has felt no age nor known no
OTHELLO: This argues fruitfulness and liberal
[This . . . heart: The moistness
suggests that you are ripe for child-bearing and have a generous
heart. Liberal heart can
also be interpreted as an oblique comment suggesting that
Desdemona freely yields her body to other men.]
Hot, hot, and moist; this hand of yours requires
A sequester from liberty, fasting and prayer,
Much castigation, exercise devout;
For here’s a young and sweating devil here,
That commonly rebels. ’Tis a good hand,
A frank one.
[this hand . . . rebels: Your
hand seems to tell me that you need to curtail your freedom and
take up fasting, prayer, penance, and devout exercises in order
to ward off the devilish temptations that arouse you and make
DESDEMONA: You may, indeed, say so;
For ’twas that hand that gave away my heart.
[For . . . heart: At the wedding
ceremony, Desdemona pledged her heart to Othello when she held
OTHELLO: A liberal hand; the hearts of old gave
But our new heraldry is hands not hearts.
[But . . . hearts: People today
give their hands but not their hearts.]
DESDEMONA: I cannot speak of this. Come now, your
OTHELLO: What promise, chuck?
[chuck: Condescending term of
DESDEMONA: I have sent to bid Cassio come speak with
OTHELLO: I have a salt and sorry rheum offends me [I have a bad cold].
Lend me thy handkerchief.
DESDEMONA: Here, my lord.
OTHELLO: That which I gave you.
DESDEMONA: I have it not about me.
DESDEMONA: No, indeed, my lord.
OTHELLO: That is a fault.
Did an Egyptian [gypsy]
to my mother give;
She was a charmer, and could almost read
The thoughts of people; she told her, while she kept
’Twould make her amiable and subdue my father
Entirely to her love, but if she lost it
Or made a gift of it, my father’s eye
Should hold her loathed, and his spirits should
After new fancies [women].
She dying gave it me;
And bid me, when my fate would have me wive,
To give it her. I did so: and take heed on ’t;
Make it a darling like your precious eye;
To lose ’t or give ’t away, were such perdition
As nothing else could match.
DESDEMONA: Is ’t possible?
OTHELLO: ’Tis true; there’s magic in the web of
A sibyl [seer; prophetess],
that had number’d in the world
The sun to course two hundred compasses,
[that . . . compasses: who was
two hundred years old]
In her prophetic fury [fit;
trance] sew’d the work;
The worms were hallow’d [holy; sacred] that did breed the
And it was dy’d in mummy which the skilful
Conserv’d of maidens’ hearts.
[And it . . . hearts: And it was
dyed with pigment that skillful artisans made from the hearts of
DESDEMONA: Indeed! is ’t true?
OTHELLO: Most veritable; therefore look to ’t
DESDEMONA: Then would to heaven that I had never seen
OTHELLO: Ha! wherefore [why]?
DESDEMONA: Why do you speak so startingly and
OTHELLO: Is ’t lost? is ’t gone? speak, is it out o’ the
DESDEMONA: Heaven bless us!
OTHELLO: Say you?
DESDEMONA: It is not lost: but what an [and] if it
DESDEMONA: I say, it is not lost.
OTHELLO: Fetch ’t, let me see ’t.
DESDEMONA: Why, so I can, sir, but I will not
This is a trick to put me from my suit [to distract me from my plea on behalf of Cassio]:
Pray you let Cassio be receiv’d again.
OTHELLO: Fetch me the handkerchief; my mind misgives [is suspicious].
DESDEMONA: Come, come;
You’ll never meet a more sufficient man [a more capable man than Cassio].
OTHELLO: The handkerchief!
DESDEMONA: I pray, talk me of Cassio.
OTHELLO: The handkerchief!
DESDEMONA: A man that all his time
Hath founded his good fortunes on your love,
Shar’d dangers with you,—
OTHELLO: The handkerchief!
DESDEMONA: In sooth [truth]
you are to blame.
OTHELLO: Away! [Exit.
EMILIA: Is not this man jealous?
DESDEMONA: I ne’er saw this [this kind of behavior in him]
Sure, there’s some wonder in this handkerchief;
I am most unhappy in the loss of it.
EMILIA: ’Tis not a year or two shows us a
They are all but stomachs, and we all but food;
They eat us hungerly, and when they are full
They belch us. Look you! Cassio and my husband.
['Tis not . . . belch us: It
takes a year or two to get to know a man. Men are stomachs and
we are their food. They eat us hungrily. When they have had too
much of us, they belch us up.]
Enter IAGO and CASSIO.
IAGO: There is no other way; ’tis she must do
And, lo! the happiness: go and importune her.
[There is . . . her: There is no
other way. Desdemona is the one who must do it. There she is. Go
and ask her.]
DESDEMONA: How now, good Cassio! what’s the news with
CASSIO: Madam, my former suit [Madam, regarding my attempt to reconcile with Othello]:
I do beseech you
That by your virtuous means I may again
Exist [be restored to favor],
and be a member of his love
Whom I with all the office of my heart
Entirely honour; I would not be delay’d [I would like immediate action on my case].
If my offence be of such mortal kind
That nor my service past, nor present sorrows,
Nor purpos’d merit in futurity,
Can ransom me into his love again,
But to know so must be my benefit;
So shall I clothe me in a forc’d content,
And shut myself up in some other course
To fortune’s alms.
[If my offence . . . alms: If my
offense is so terrible that nothing can redeem me into his love
again—not my past service to him, not my present suffering, not
my promise of future devotion to him—then I will walk away and
start a new life.]
DESDEMONA: Alas! thrice-gentle Cassio!
My advocation is not now in tune;
[My . . . tune: It is not the
right time for me to speak up for you to Othello.]
My lord is not my lord; nor should I know him,
Were he in favour as in humour alter’d.
[nor should . . . alter'd: Nor
would I recognize him if his appearance changed as much as his
So help me every spirit sanctified,
[So . . . sanctified: I swear by
every saintly spirit]
As I have spoken for you all my best
And stood within the blank [bull's-eye;
target] of his displeasure
For my free speech. You must awhile be patient;
What I can do I will, and more I will
Than for myself I dare: let that suffice you.
IAGO: Is my lord angry?
EMILIA: He went hence but now,
And, certainly in strange unquietness.
IAGO: Can he be angry? I have seen the
[Can he . . . cannon: Can
he really be angry now, at a time of peace, considering that he
remains calm on the battlefield? I have seen the cannon]
When it hath blown his ranks [soldiers]
into the air,
And, like the devil, from his very arm
Puff’d [blasted; blew away]
his own brother; and can he be angry?
Something of moment then [if he
is really angry, something important must have set him off];
I will go meet him;
There’s matter [There's a
serious problem] in ’t indeed, if he be
DESDEMONA: I prithee [pray
thee], do so. [Exit IAGO.] Something, sure,
Either from Venice, or some unhatch’d practice [some
Made demonstrable here in Cyprus to him,
Hath puddled his clear spirit; and, in such
Men’s natures wrangle with inferior things,
Though great ones are their object. ’Tis even
[Something, sure . . . object:
Some government problem in Venice or some nefarious plot here in
Cyprus must have clouded his mind. In such a case, men tend to
be touchy and irritable about minor matters even though great
matters confront them.]
For let our finger ache, and it indues [induces]
Our other healthful members ev’n to that sense
Of pain. Nay, we must think men are not gods,
Nor of them look for such observancy
As fits the bridal. Beshrew [scold;
reprove] me much, Emilia,
[Nor of . . . bridal: Nor look
for them to act with the same gentle joy that they did on their
I was—unhandsome warrior as I am—
his unkindness with my soul;
But now I find I had suborn’d the witness [I had committed perjury],
And he’s indicted [accused]
EMILIA: Pray heaven it be state-matters [government matters], as you
And no conception, nor no jealous toy [suspicion]
DESDEMONA: Alas the day! I never gave him
EMILIA: But jealous souls will not be answer’d
They are not ever jealous for the cause,
But jealous for they are jealous; ’tis a monster
Begot upon itself, born on itself.
DESDEMONA: Heaven keep that monster from Othello’s
EMILIA: Lady, amen.
DESDEMONA: I will go seek him. Cassio, walk
If I do find him fit, I’ll move your suit [plead your case]
And seek to effect it to my uttermost.
CASSIO: I humbly thank your ladyship. [Exeunt
DESDEMONA and EMILIA.
BIANCA: Save you, friend Cassio!
CASSIO: What make you from home [Why have you left your home to come here]?
How is it with you, my most fair Bianca?
I’ faith, sweet love, I was coming to your
BIANCA: And I was going to your lodging,
What! keep a week away? seven days and nights?
Eight score eight hours
[the number of hours in a week,
168]? and lovers’ absent hours,
More tedious than the dial eight score times [pass 160 times more slowly than they
do for other people]?
O weary reckoning!
CASSIO: Pardon me, Bianca,
I have this while with leaden [weighty]
thoughts been press’d,
But I shall, in a more continuate time [a more leisurely time, free of interruptions],
Strike off this score of absence [end
my absence from you]. Sweet Bianca. [Giving her
Take me this work out [Copy the
pattern in this handkerchief].
BIANCA: O Cassio! whence came this?
This is some token from a newer friend;
To the felt absence now I feel a cause [now I know why you have been absent];
Is ’t come to this? Well, well.
CASSIO: Go to, woman!
Throw your vile guesses in the devil’s teeth,
From whence you have them. You are jealous now
That this is from some mistress, some
No, in good troth, Bianca.
[Go to . . . Bianca: Come now,
woman! Throw your vile guesses to the devil, who put them in
your mind. You are jealous that this handkerchief is a
remembrance for me from some other woman. But I swear to you,
Bianca, it is not.]
BIANCA: Why, whose is it?
CASSIO: I know not, sweet; I found it in my
I like the work [the design of
it] well; ere [before]
it be demanded,—
As like enough it will,—I’d have it copied;
Take it and do ’t; and leave me for this time.
BIANCA: Leave you! wherefore [why]?
CASSIO: I do attend here on [wait here for] the general,
And think it no addition nor my wish
To have him see me woman’d [with
BIANCA: Why, I pray you?
CASSIO: Not that I love you not.
BIANCA: But that you do not love me.
I pray you, bring me on the way a little
And say if I shall see you soon at night.
CASSIO: ’Tis but a little way that I can bring
For I attend here; but I’ll see you soon.
BIANCA: ’Tis very good; I must be circumstanc’d [rejected; repulsed; put off].
Act 4, Scene 1
Cyprus. Before the
Enter OTHELLO and IAGO.
IAGO: Will you think so?
OTHELLO: Think so, Iago! [Think what? Speak plainly.]
To kiss in private? [What's so
bad about kissing in private?]
OTHELLO: An unauthoriz’d kiss.
IAGO: Or to be naked with her friend a-bed
An hour or more, not meaning any harm?
[Or to . . . harm: And what's so
bad about being naked in bed with him if she kept her distance
and did no wrong?]
OTHELLO: Naked a-bed, Iago, and not mean
It is hypocrisy against the devil:
They that mean virtuously, and yet do so,
The devil their virtue tempts, and they tempt
[Naked . . . tempt heaven: You can't be serious! Naked in bed but
did not mean to do anything?
[It is hypocrisy . . . heaven:
It's a joke on the devil. If Desdemona and Cassio got in bed but
meant to be virtuous, they are inviting the devil's temptation
and the wrath of heaven.
IAGO: If they do nothing, ’tis a venial slip; [venial sin. In Roman Catholicism, a
venial sin is a lesser sin, like telling a white lie. A serious
sin—like adultery and murder—is called a mortal sin.]
But if I give my wife a handkerchief,—
OTHELLO: What then?
IAGO: Why, then, ’tis hers, my lord; and, being
She may, I think, bestow ’t on any man.
OTHELLO: She is protectress of her honour [body; virtuous character; chastity]
May she give that?
IAGO: Her honour is an essence that’s not
They have it very oft that have it not:
[They have . . . not: Many women
maintain their honor in the public eye even though in secret
they have violated it.]
But for the handkerchief,—
OTHELLO: By heaven, I would most gladly have forgot
Thou said’st,—O! it comes o’er my memory,
As doth the raven o’er the infected house,
Boding to all,—he had my handkerchief.
[Thou . . . handkerchief: What
you have said about a wife giving away a handkerchief presented
to her by her husband—O, this thought obsesses me. I picture a
raven hovering above and announcing to everyone that Desdemona
gave her handkerchief to Cassio.]
IAGO: Ay, what of that?
OTHELLO: That’s not so good now.
If I had said I had seen him do you wrong?
Or heard him say, as knaves be such abroad,
Who having, by their own importunate suit,
Or voluntary dotage of some mistress,
Convinced or supplied them, cannot choose
But they must blab.
[What . . . blab: What if I told
I saw him wrong you? What if a heard him blab in public that he
OTHELLO: Hath he said any thing?
IAGO: He hath, my lord; but be you well
No more than he’ll unswear. [He
won't admit to any wrongful deeds.]
OTHELLO: What hath he said?
IAGO: Faith, that he did—I know not what he
OTHELLO: What? what?
OTHELLO: With her?
IAGO: With her, on her; what you will.
OTHELLO: Lie with her! lie on her! We say, lie on her, when
they belie her [when all along I
thought people were spreading lies about her]. Lie with
her! that’s fulsome [disgusting].
Handkerchief,—confessions,—handkerchief! To confess, and be hanged
for his labour. [Cassio should
confess his offenses and be hanged.] First, to be hanged,
and then to confess: I tremble at it. Nature would not invest
herself in such shadowing passion without some instruction. [Nature would not make me so angry
unless Desdemona were guilty.] It is not words that
shake me thus. Pish! Noses, ears, and lips. Is it
possible?—Confess!—Handkerchief!—O devil! [Falls in a
IAGO: Work on,
My medicine, work! Thus credulous [easily duped; gullible] fools are
And many worthy and chaste dames even thus,
All guiltless, meet reproach. What, ho! my lord!
My lord, I say! Othello!
How now, Cassio!
CASSIO: What’s the matter?
IAGO: My lord is fallen into an epilepsy;
This is his second fit; he had one yesterday.
CASSIO: Rub him about the temples.
IAGO: No, forbear;
The lethargy must have his quiet course, [His fit must be allowed to run its
If not [otherwise] he
foams at mouth, and by and by
Breaks out to savage madness. Look! he stirs;
Do you withdraw yourself a little while,
He will recover straight; when he is gone,
I would on great occasion speak with you. [Exit
How is it, general? have you not hurt your head?
OTHELLO: Dost thou mock me?
IAGO: I mock you! no, by heaven.
Would you would bear your fortune like a man!
OTHELLO: A hornèd man’s a monster and a
[A hornèd man: A cuckold, a man
with an unfaithful wife]
IAGO: There’s many a beast then, in a populous
And many a civil [mannerly;
OTHELLO: Did he confess it?
IAGO: Good sir, be a man;
Think every bearded fellow that’s but yok’d [married]
May draw with you. There’s millions now alive
That nightly lie in those unproper beds
Which they dare swear peculiar; your case is
[every bearded . . .
better: Every married fellow is vulnerable to infidelity. In
fact, millions of men nightly sleep with unfaithful wives whom
the men think are angels. Your case is better because at
least you know that your wife is unfaithful.]
O! ’tis the spite of hell, the fiend’s
To lip a wanton in a secure couch,
And to suppose her chaste. No, let me know;
And knowing what I am I know what she shall be.
[O! . . . shall be: O! Hell
spites and mocks the man who kisses his wife in bed in the
belief that she is faithful and that no other man has ever
occupied his place in bed. Well, I'd like to know that my wife
is cheating on me.]
OTHELLO: O! thou art wise; ’tis certain.
IAGO: Stand you awhile apart;
Confine yourself but in a patient list.
Whilst you were here o’erwhelmed with your
A passion most unsuiting such a man,—
Cassio came hither; I shifted him away,
And laid good ’scuse upon your ecstasy;
Bade him anon return and here speak with me;
The which he promis’d. Do but encave yourself,
And mark the fleers, the gibes, and notable
That dwell in every region of his face;
[Stand you . . . his face: Go to
a place nearby and hide. Then get control of yourself while you
prepare to observe something. Let me explain. After you were
overwhelmed with emotion and fell into a fit, Cassio came
by. I gave him a good excuse for what happened to you and
asked him to return in a short while to speak with me. He
promised to do so. So go hide yourself. When Cassio returns,
notice how his face reveals the derision and scorn he reserves
For I will make him tell the tale anew,
Where, how, how oft, how long ago, and when
He hath, and is again to cope [copulate
with; have sex with] your wife:
I say, but mark his gesture. Marry, patience;
Or I shall say you are all in all in spleen [you are in a state that allows your
violent emotions to control you],
And nothing of a man.
OTHELLO: Dost thou hear, Iago?
I will be found most cunning in my patience;
But—dost thou hear?—most bloody.
IAGO: That’s not amiss;
But yet keep time in all. Will you withdraw? [OTHELLO goes
Now will I question Cassio of Bianca,
A housewife that by selling her desires [by . . . desires: By selling herself as a prostitute]
Buys herself bread and clothes; it is a creature
That dotes on Cassio; as ’tis the strumpet’s [whore's; prostitute's]
To beguile many and be beguil’d by one [To attract many men and be in love with one].
He, when he hears of her, cannot refrain
From the excess of laughter. Here he comes:
As he shall smile, Othello shall go mad;
And his unbookish [uninformed;
unlearned; created by lies told to him] jealousy must
Poor Cassio’s smiles, gestures, and light
Quite in the wrong. How do you now, lieutenant?
CASSIO: The worser that you give me the addition [that
you call me lieutenant]
Whose want even kills me [whose
desire to be reinstated in that rank kills me].
IAGO: Ply [Plead with]
Desdemona well, and you are sure on ’t.
[Speaking lower.] Now, if this suit lay in Bianca’s
How quickly should you speed [be
CASSIO: Alas! poor caitiff [thing;
OTHELLO: Look! how he laughs already! [Othello speaks to himself in his
IAGO: I never knew woman love man so.
CASSIO: Alas! poor rogue, I think, i’ faith, she loves
OTHELLO: Now he denies it faintly, and laughs it
IAGO: Do you hear, Cassio?
OTHELLO: Now he importunes him
To tell it o’er: go to; well said, well said.
IAGO: She gives it out that you shall marry
Do you intend it?
CASSIO: Ha, ha, ha!
OTHELLO: Do you triumph, Roman? do you triumph? [Othello compares Cassio to Roman
soldiers who marched in triumphal procession after returning to
Rome from victories in war.]
CASSIO: I marry her! what? a customer? I prithee, bear some
charity to my wit; do not think it so unwholesome. Ha, ha,
[I marry . . . unwholesome: Are
you asking me if I want to marry a harlot? Please don't insult
my intelligence. Don't think some disease has ravaged my
OTHELLO: So, so, so, so. They laugh that win [The winner laughs at the loser].
IAGO: Faith, the cry [rumor]
goes that you shall marry her.
CASSIO: Prithee, say true. [You
must be joking]
IAGO: I am a very villain else. [If the rumor is false, I am a villain.]
OTHELLO: Have you scored me? Well. [Are you trying to get back at me for
demoting you? Have you marked (scored) me for revenge?]
CASSIO: This is the monkey’s own giving out: she is
persuaded I will marry her, out of her own love and flattery, not
out of my promise.
OTHELLO: Iago beckons me; now he begins the
CASSIO: She was here even now; she haunts me in every place.
I was the other day talking on the sea bank with certain
Venetians, and thither come this bauble [toy; insignificant person], and, by this hand,
she falls me thus about my neck;— [she wraps her arms around my neck]
OTHELLO: Crying, ‘O dear Cassio!’ as it were; his gesture
CASSIO: So hangs and lolls and weeps upon me; so hales [tugs; jerks] and pulls me;
ha, ha, ha!
OTHELLO: Now he tells how she plucked him to my chamber. O!
I see that nose of yours, but not the dog I shall throw it
CASSIO: Well, I must leave her company.
IAGO: Before me! look, where she comes.
Cas ’Tis such another fitchew! marry, a perfumed one. [Cassio compares Bianca to a fitchew,
a polecat that marks its territory with a foul-smelling fluid.
Here, the fitchew is "a perfumed one."]
What do you mean by this haunting of me?
BIANCA: Let the devil and his dam haunt you! What did you
mean by that same handkerchief you gave me even now? I was a fine
fool to take it. I must take out the work! [copy the design]! A likely
piece of work, that you should find it in your chamber, and not
know who left it there! This is some minx’s [harlot's] token, and I must
take out the work! There, give it your hobby-horse [harlot]; wheresoever you had
[obtained] it I’ll take
out no work on ’t.
CASSIO: How now, my sweet Bianca! how now, how
OTHELLO: By heaven, that should be my
BIANCA: An [If]
you’ll come to supper to-night, you may; an [if] you will not, come when
you are next prepared for. [Exit.
IAGO: After her, after her.
CASSIO: Faith, I must; she’ll rail in the street
IAGO: Will you sup there?
CASSIO: Faith, I intend so.
IAGO: Well, I may chance to see you, for I would very fain
speak with you.
CASSIO: Prithee, come; will you?
IAGO: Go to [Get going];
say no more. [Exit CASSIO.
OTHELLO: [Advancing.] How shall I murder him,
IAGO: Did you perceive how he laughed at his
OTHELLO: O! Iago!
IAGO: And did you see the handkerchief?
OTHELLO: Was that mine?
IAGO: Yours, by this hand; and to see how he prizes the
foolish woman your wife! she gave it him, and he hath given it his
OTHELLO: I would have him nine years a-killing. [I wish I could kill him again and
again, for nine years.] A fine woman! a fair woman! a
IAGO: Nay, you must forget that.
OTHELLO: Ay, let her rot, and perish, and be damned
to-night; for she shall not live. No, my heart is turned to stone;
I strike it, and it hurts my hand. O! the world hath not a sweeter
creature; she might lie by an emperor’s side and command him
IAGO: Nay, that’s not your way.
OTHELLO: Hang her! I do but say what she is. So delicate
with her needle! An admirable musician! O, she will sing the
savageness out of a bear. Of so high and plenteous wit [intelligence] and
IAGO: She’s the worse for all this.
OTHELLO: O! a thousand, a thousand times. And then, of so
gentle a condition!
IAGO: Ay, too gentle.
OTHELLO: Nay, that’s certain;—but yet the pity of it, Iago!
O! Iago, the pity of it, Iago!
IAGO: If you are so fond over her iniquity, give her patent
to offend; for, if it touch not you, it comes near nobody.
[If you . . . nobody: If you are
so fond of this sinner, give her permission to be unfaithful. If
her conduct doesn't bother you, it won't bother others.]
OTHELLO: I will chop her into messes. Cuckold me! [How dares she to cheat on me!]
IAGO: O! ’tis foul in her.
OTHELLO: With mine officer! [To cheat with my own officer!]
IAGO: That’s fouler.
OTHELLO: Get me some poison, Iago; this night: I’ll not
expostulate [reason; argue]
with her, lest her body and beauty unprovide [soften; weaken] my mind
again. This night, Iago.
IAGO: Do it not with poison, strangle her in her bed, even
the bed she hath contaminated.
OTHELLO: Good, good; the justice of it pleases; very
IAGO: And for Cassio, let me be his undertaker; you shall
hear more by midnight.
OTHELLO: Excellent good. [A trumpet
What trumpet is that same?
IAGO: Something from Venice, sure. ’Tis
Come from the duke; and see, your wife is with
Enter LODOVICO, DESDEMONA, and Attendants.
LODOVIDO: God save you, worthy general!
OTHELLO: With all my heart, sir.
LODOVICO: The duke and senators of Venice greet you.
[Gives him a packet.
OTHELLO: I kiss the instrument of their pleasures.
[Opens the packet, and reads.
DESDEMONA: And what’s the news, good cousin
IAGO: I am very glad to see you, signior;
Welcome to Cyprus.
LODOVICO: I thank you. How does Lieutenant
IAGO: Lives, sir.
DESDEMONA: Cousin, there’s fall’n between him and my
An unkind breach; but you shall make all well.
OTHELLO: Are you sure of that?
DESDEMONA: My lord?
OTHELLO: [Reads] "This fail you not to do, as you will—[Do
not fail to do this, as you will—]"
LODOVICO: He did not call [reply];
he’s busy in the paper [busy
reading a letter from the packet].
Is there division ’twixt my lord and Cassio?
DESDEMONA: A most unhappy one; I would do
To atone [reconcile]
them, for the love I bear to Cassio.
OTHELLO: Fire and brimstone!
DESDEMONA: My lord?
OTHELLO: Are you wise? [Are
DESDEMONA: What! is he angry?
LODOVICO: May be the letter mov’d him;
For, as I think, they do command him home,
Deputing Cassio in his government [assigning Cassio to govern in his place].
DESDEMONA: Trust me, I am glad on ’t.
DESDEMONA: My lord?
OTHELLO: I am glad to see you mad. [I am glad that you are crazy enough
to say such things to my face.]
DESDEMONA: Why, sweet Othello?
OTHELLO: Devil! [Strikes her.
DESDEMONA: I have not deserved this.
LODOVICO: My lord, this would not be believ’d in
Though I should swear I saw ’t: ’tis very much [very much unlike you];
Make her amends, she weeps.
OTHELLO: O devil, devil!
If that the earth could teem with woman’s tears,
Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile. [Each teardrop would be false and
insincere. She's like a crocodile that cries to pretend that it
is sorry for eating a victim.]
Out of my sight!
DESDEMONA: I will not stay to offend you.
LODOVICO: Truly, an obedient lady;
I do beseech your lordship, call her back.
DESDEMONA: My lord?
OTHELLO: What would you with her, sir?
LODOVICO: Who, I, my lord?
OTHELLO: Ay; you did wish that I would make her
Sir, she can turn, and turn, and yet go on,
And turn again; and she can weep, sir, weep;
And she’s obedient, as you say, obedient,
Very obedient. Proceed you in your tears.
Concerning this, sir,—O well-painted [faked; pretended] passion!—
I am commanded home. Get you [Desdemona]
I’ll send for you anon [soon].
Sir, I obey the mandate,
And will return to Venice. Hence! [Be off, Desdemona!] avaunt! [Get out of my sight!] [Exit
Cassio shall have my place. And, sir, to-night,
I do entreat that we may sup together;
You are welcome, sir, to Cyprus. Goats and monkeys! [An allusion to Desdemona and Cassio
as animals with unbridled lust.] [Exit.
LODOVICO: Is this the noble Moor whom our full
Call all-in-all sufficient? is this the noble
Whom passion could not shake? whose solid virtue
The shot of accident nor dart of chance
Could neither graze nor pierce?
IAGO: He is much chang’d.
LODOVICO: Are his wits safe? [Is he in his right mind?] is he not light of
IAGO: He’s that he is; I may not breathe my
What he might be, if, what he might, he is not,
I would to heaven he were!
[He's that . . . he were: He is
who he is. I won't breathe a word against him. But I wish to
heaven he would be the man that he should be.]
LODOVICO: What! strike his wife!
IAGO: Faith, that was not so well; yet would I
That stroke would prove the worst!
[Faith . . . worst: In truth,
that was a bad thing. I wish I could say that the slap would
prove to be his worst offense after all is said and done.]
LODOVICO: Is it his use? [Has
he been exhibiting such behavior lately?]
Or did the letters work upon his blood,
And new-create this fault?
IAGO: Alas, alas!
It is not honesty in me to speak
What I have seen and known. You shall observe
And his own courses [behavior]
will denote [describe]
That I may save my speech. Do but go after
And mark how he continues [notice
what he does].
LODOVICO: I am sorry that I am deceiv’d in him.
Act 4, Scene 2
A room in the castle.
Enter OTHELLO and EMILIA.
OTHELLO: You have seen nothing, then?
EMILIA: Nor ever heard, nor ever did
OTHELLO: Yes, you have seen Cassio and her
EMILIA: But then I saw no harm, and then I
Each syllable that breath made up between them.
OTHELLO: What! did they never whisper?
EMILIA: Never, my lord.
OTHELLO: Nor send you out o’ the way?
OTHELLO: To fetch her fan, her gloves, her mask, nor
EMILIA: Never, my lord.
OTHELLO: That’s strange.
EMILIA: I durst [dare],
my lord, to wager she is honest [faithful],
Lay down my soul at stake: if you think other,
Remove your thought; it doth abuse your bosom.
If any wretch have put this in your head,
Let heaven requite [condemn]
it with the serpent’s curse!
For, if she be not honest, chaste, and true,
There’s no man happy; the purest of their wives
Is foul as slander.
OTHELLO: Bid her come hither; go. [Exit
She says enough; yet she’s a simple bawd
That cannot say as much. This is a subtle whore,
A closet lock and key of villanous secrets;
And yet she’ll kneel and pray; I have seen her do
[She says . . . secrets:
Desdemona knows what to say to appear innocent. But she's no
better than a common prostitute who doesn't have my wife's gift
of words. Desdemona is a subtle whore with a closetful of dirty
Re-enter EMILIA with DESDEMONA.
DESDEMONA: My lord, what is your will?
OTHELLO: Pray, chuck [attractive
woman], come hither.
DESDEMONA: What is your pleasure?
OTHELLO: Let me see your eyes;
Look in my face.
DESDEMONA: What horrible fancy’s this?
OTHELLO: [To EMILIA.] Some of your function,
Leave procreants [husband and
wife; man and woman capable of producing offspring] alone
and shut the door;
Cough or cry ‘hem’ if any body come;
Your mystery, your mystery; nay, dispatch. [Exit
[Your mystery . . . dispatch:
That's your profession, to stand guard for couples about to have
sex. Leave us.]
DESDEMONA: Upon my knees, what doth your speech
I understand a fury in your words,
But not the words.
OTHELLO: Why, what art thou?
DESDEMONA: Your wife, my lord; your true
And loyal wife.
OTHELLO: Come, swear it, damn
Lest, being like one of heaven, the devils
Should fear to seize thee; therefore be
Swear thou art honest.
[Come . . . seize thee: Swear
that you are loyal. In doing so, you would be damning yourself
by telling a horrid lie. But if you don't tell such a lie, the
devils will be afraid to seize you in the belief that you are
like an angel in heaven. Now that you know what's at stake,
swear that you are faithful to me.]
DESDEMONA: Heaven doth truly know it.
OTHELLO: Heaven truly knows that thou art false as
DESDEMONA: To whom, my lord? with whom? how am I
OTHELLO: Ah! Desdemona; away, away, away!
DESDEMONA: Alas, the heavy day!—Why do you
Am I the motive of these tears, my lord?
If haply you my father do
An instrument of this your calling back,
[If haply . . . back: If perhaps
you suspect that my father is responsible for having you called
back to Venice,]
Lay not your blame on me; if you have lost him,
Why, I have lost him too.
OTHELLO: Had it pleas’d heaven
To try [test] me with
affliction [disease and
suffering], had he [God]
All kinds of sores, and shames, on my bare head,
Steep’d me in poverty to the very lips,
Given to captivity me and my utmost hopes,
I should have found in some part of my soul
A drop of patience; but, alas! to make me
The fixed figure for the time of scorn
To point his slow and moving finger at;
[to make . . . finger at: To make
me an eternal object of scorn to point His accusatory finger at]
Yet could I bear that too; well, very well:
But there, where I have garner’d up my heart,
Where either I must live or bear no life,
The fountain from the which my current runs
Or else dries up; to be discarded thence!
[But there . . . thence: But
you, who have my heart, are the fountain from which springs a
future of children and happiness, or nothing at all.]
To be discarded by you grieves me deeply.
Or keep it as a cistern for foul toads
To knot and gender in! Turn thy complexion
Patience, thou young and rose-lipp’d cherubin;
Ay, there, look grim as hell!
[Or keep . . . hell: Or keep your
womb as a cistern for foul toads to breed in. Turn your gaze
there, Patience, and what you see will be as grim as hell.
(Here, Patience is
personified as a cherubin, an angel.]
DESDEMONA: I hope my noble lord esteems me honest [faithful].
OTHELLO: O! ay; as summer flies are in the shambles [meat market; slaughterhouse; scene
That quicken even with blowing [that
reproduce every time the wind blows.]. O thou
Who art so lovely fair and smell’st so sweet
That the sense aches at thee, would thou hadst ne’er been
DESDEMONA: Alas! what ignorant sin [sin unknown to me] have I
OTHELLO: Was this fair paper, this most goodly
Made to write ‘whore’ upon? What committed!
[Was this . . . committed:
Othello compares Desdemona to paper in a book, asking whether
the paper was made to write whore on.]
Committed! O thou public commoner!
I should make very forges of my cheeks,
That would to cinders burn up modesty,
Did I but speak thy deeds. What committed!
Heaven stops the nose at it and the moon winks,
The bawdy wind that kisses all it meets
Is hush’d within the hollow mine of earth,
[O thou . . . earth: O you common
prostitute! Speaking of your evil deeds heats my anger to a
point that would burn to cinders your pretended modesty. What
offense did you commit? Heaven holds its nose at it, the moon
looks away, and the roaming wind halts at the horror of it.]
And will not hear it. What committed!
DESDEMONA: By heaven, you do me wrong.
OTHELLO: Are not you a strumpet?
DESDEMONA: No, as I am a Christian.
If to preserve this vessel for my lord
From any other foul unlawful touch
Be not to be a strumpet, I am none.
OTHELLO: What! not a whore?
DESDEMONA: No, as I shall be sav’d.
OTHELLO: Is it possible?
DESDEMONA: O! heaven forgive us.
OTHELLO: I cry you mercy, then;
I took you for that cunning whore of Venice
That married with Othello. You, mistress,
That have the office opposite to Saint Peter,
And keep the gate of hell!
You, you, ay, you!
We have done our course; there’s money for your
I pray you, turn the key and keep our counsel. [After I leave, lock the door and
keep quiet about my meeting with Desdemona.]
EMILIA: Alas! what does this gentleman conceive? [What is this gentleman up to?]
How do you, madam? how do you, my good lady?
DESDEMONA: Faith, half asleep.
EMILIA: Good madam, what’s the matter with my
DESDEMONA: With who?
EMILIA: Why, with my lord, madam.
DESDEMONA: Who is thy lord?
EMILIA: He that is yours, sweet lady.
DESDEMONA: I have none; do not talk to me,
I cannot weep, nor answer have I none,
But what should go by water. Prithee, to-night
[I cannot . . . water: I have no
answers to any of your questions. Only my tears could give
answers, but I cannot weep.]
Lay on my bed my wedding sheets: remember:
And call thy husband hither.
EMILIA: Here is a change indeed!
DESDEMONA: ’Tis meet I should be us’d so, very
How have I been behav’d, that he might stick
The small’st opinion on my least misuse?
['Tis meet . . .
misuse: The way Othello is treating me is just. But tell
me what I have done to cause him to criticize me for the tiniest
Re-enter EMILIA, with IAGO.
IAGO: What is your pleasure, madam? How is it with
DESDEMONA: I cannot tell. Those that do teach young
Do it with gentle means and easy tasks;
He might have chid me so; for, in good faith,
I am a child to chiding.
[He might . . . chiding: He
should have scolded (chid) me with the same gentleness that
parents use to scold little children. For I am new to scolding,
like a small child.]
IAGO: What’s the matter, lady?
EMILIA: Alas! Iago, my lord hath so bewhor’d
Thrown such despite and heavy terms upon her,
As true hearts cannot bear.
[my lord . . . bear: Othello has
repeatedly accused Desdemona of being a whore. Moreover, he has
exhibited such hatred toward her and rained such horrid
criticism on her that I wonder whether her good heart can bear
DESDEMONA: Am I that name, Iago?
IAGO: What name, fair lady?
DESDEMONA: Such as she says my lord did say I
EMILIA: He call’d her whore; a beggar in his
Could not have laid such terms upon his callat [prostitute; whore].
IAGO: Why did he so?
DESDEMONA: I do not know; I am sure I am none
IAGO: Do not weep, do not weep. Alas the
EMILIA: Has she forsook [passed
up] so many noble matches [suitors],
Her father and her country and her friends,
To be call’d whore? would it not make one weep?
DESDEMONA: It is my wretched fortune.
IAGO: Beshrew him for it! [Shame
How comes this trick upon him? [What
caused him to say horrible things about you?]
DESDEMONA: Nay, heaven doth know.
EMILIA: I will be hang’d, if some eternal
Some busy and insinuating rogue,
Some cogging cozening slave, to get some office,
Have not devis’d this slander; I’ll be hang’d
[Heaven doth . . . else: I'll be
hanged if some villain—some deceitful, cowardly
good-for-nothing—has not slandered you in order to get some
position or promotion.]
IAGO: Fie! there is no such man; it is
DESDEMONA: If any such there be, heaven pardon
EMILIA: A halter [noose] pardon him, and hell gnaw his
Why should he [Othello]
call her whore? who keeps her company?
What place? what time? what form? what
The Moor’s abus’d by some most villanous knave,
Some base notorious knave, some scurvy fellow.
O heaven! that such companions thou’dst unfold,
[that such . . . unfold: I
wish you would expose such awful men]
And put in every honest hand a whip
To lash the rascals naked through the world,
Even from the east to the west!
IAGO: Speak within door. [Don't
talk so loud. People outside might hear you.]
EMILIA: O! fie upon them. Some such squire he
That turn’d your wit the seamy side without,
And made you to suspect me with the Moor.
[O! fie . . . the Moor: O, fie on
the people outside. It was probably some busybody that turned
your common sense inside out and made you suspect that I had sex
IAGO: You are a fool; go to. [Keep quiet, you fool.]
DESDEMONA: O good Iago,
What shall I do to win my lord again?
Good friend, go to him; for, by this light of
I know not how I lost him. Here I kneel:
If e’er my will did trespass ’gainst his love,
Either in discourse of thought or actual deed,
Or that mine eyes, mine ears, or any sense,
Delighted them in any other form;
Or that I do not yet, and ever did,
And ever will, though he do shake me off
To beggarly divorcement, love him dearly,
Comfort forswear me! Unkindness may do much;
And his unkindness may defeat my life,
[If e'er my . . . my life: Never
did I trespass against his love in thought or deed. Never did my
eyes, ears, or other senses take delight in another man. I have
always loved Othello and always will even though it appears that
he wants nothing to do with me. His unkindness is killing me.]
But never taint my love. I cannot say ‘whore:’
It does abhor me now I speak the word;
To do the act that might the addition earn
Not the world’s mass of vanity could make me.
[To do . . . me: To have sex with
anyone other than Othello for pleasure or for gaining a benefit
for myself or another is something that I would never do.]
IAGO: I pray you be content, ’tis but his humour [Othello's mood];
The business of the state does him offence,
And he does chide with you.
[The business . . . you: The
business of state puts great stress on him, and he takes out his
frustrations on you.]
DESDEMONA: If ’twere no other,—
IAGO: ’Tis but so, I warrant.
Hark! how these instruments summon to supper;
The messengers of Venice stay the meat:
Go in, and weep not; all things shall be well. [Exeunt
DESDEMONA and EMILIA.
How now, Roderigo!
RODERIGO: I do not find that thou dealest justly with
IAGO: What in the contrary?
RODERIGO: Every day thou daffest me [put me off] with some device,
Iago; and rather, as it seems to me now, keepest from me all
than suppliest me with the least advantage of hope. I will indeed
no longer endure it, nor am I yet persuaded to put up in peace [to accept quietly] what
already I have foolishly suffered.
IAGO: Will you hear me, Roderigo?
RODERIGO: Faith, I have heard too much, for your words and
performances are no kin together.
IAGO: You charge me most unjustly.
RODERIGO: With nought but truth. I have wasted myself out of
my means. The jewels you have had from me to deliver to Desdemona
would half have corrupted a votarist [person who has taken a vow to lead a holy life];
you have told me she has received them, and returned me
expectations and comforts of sudden respect and acquaintance, but
I find none.
[and returned . . . acquaintance:
And assured me that I could expect to receive her attentions]
IAGO: Well; go to; very well. [Well, persevere. Things are still very well for you.]
RODERIGO: Very well! go to! I cannot go to, man; nor ’tis
not very well: by this hand, I say, it is very scurvy [mean; despicable; contemptible],
and begin to find myself fobbed [tricked;
deceived; fooled] in it.
IAGO: Very well.
RODERIGO: I tell you ’tis not very well. I will make myself
known to Desdemona; if she will return me my jewels, I will give
over my suit and repent my unlawful solicitation; if not, assure
yourself I will seek satisfaction of you.
IAGO: You have said now. [You
have spoken your mind.]
RODERIGO: Ay, and said nothing, but what I protest
intendment of doing. [Yes, and
everything I said I would do I will do.]
IAGO: Why, now I see there’s mettle [strength; courage] in thee,
and even from this instant do build on thee a better opinion than
ever before. Give me thy hand, Roderigo; thou hast taken against
me a most just exception [thou
hast rightly taken me to task]; but yet, I protest, I
have dealt most directly in thy affair [but I have tried to do my best for you].
RODERIGO: It hath not appeared. [It does not appear to me that you did so.]
IAGO: I grant indeed it hath not appeared, and your
suspicion is not without wit [reason]
and judgment. But, Roderigo, if thou hast that in thee indeed,
which I have greater reason to believe now than ever, I mean
purpose, courage, and valour, this night show it: if thou the next
night following [tomorrow night]
enjoy not Desdemona, take me from this world with treachery and
devise engines for my life [devise
ways to kill me].
RODERIGO: Well, what is it [the
plan]? is it within reason and compass? [is it a good one that can be carried
IAGO: Sir, there is especial commission come from Venice to
depute Cassio in Othello’s place.
RODERIGO: Is that true? why, then Othello and Desdemona
return again to Venice.
IAGO: O, no! he goes into Mauritania, and takes away with
him the fair Desdemona, unless his abode be lingered here [unless he be detained here]
by some accident; wherein none can be so determinate as [none can be better than] the
removing of Cassio.
RODERIGO: How do you mean, removing of
IAGO: Why, by making him uncapable of Othello’s place;
knocking out his brains.
RODERIGO: And that you would have me do?
IAGO: Ay; if you dare do yourself a profit and a right. He
sups to-night with a harlotry [Cassio
is dining tonight with a prostitute], and thither will I
go to him; he knows not yet of his honourable fortune. If you will
watch his going thence,—which I will fashion to fall out between
twelve and one,—you may take him at your pleasure; I will be near
to second your attempt, and he shall fall between us. Come, stand
not amazed at it, but go along with me; I will show you such a
necessity in his death that you shall think yourself bound to put
it on [to kill] him. It is now high
supper-time, and the night grows to waste; about it [about it: Let's go about our task.].
RODERIGO: I will hear further reason for
IAGO: And you shall be satisfied.
Act 4, Scene 3
Another room in the
Enter OTHELLO, LODOVICO, DESDEMONA, EMILIA, and Attendants.
LODOVICO: I do beseech you, sir, trouble yourself no
OTHELLO: O! pardon me; ’twill do me good to
LODOVICO: Madam, good night; I humbly thank your
DESDEMONA: Your honour is most welcome.
OTHELLO: Will you walk, sir?
DESDEMONA: My lord?
OTHELLO: Get you to bed on the instant; I will be returned
forthwith; dismiss your attendant there; look [see that] it be
DESDEMONA: I will, my lord. [Exeunt OTHELLO, LODOVICO,
EMILIA: How goes it now? he looks gentler than he
DESDEMONA: He says he will return incontinent [shortly];
He hath commanded me to go to bed,
And bade me to dismiss you.
EMILIA: Dismiss me!
DESDEMONA: It was his bidding; therefore, good
Give me my nightly wearing [nightgown],
and adieu [good-bye]:
We must not now displease him.
EMILIA: I would you had never seen him.
DESDEMONA: So would not I [I
think otherwise]; my love doth so approve [praise; commend]
That even his stubbornness, his checks and
Prithee [Please], unpin
me,—have grace and favour in them.
EMILIA: I have laid those sheets [wedding sheets] you bade me on the
DESDEMONA: All’s one [It
doesn't really matter]. Good faith! how foolish are our
If I do die before thee, prithee, shroud [wrap] me
In one of those same sheets.
EMILIA: Come, come, you talk [Come, come, don't speak of such things].
DESDEMONA: My mother had a maid call’d
She was in love, and he [the
man] she lov’d prov’d mad
And did forsake her [an allusion
to Othello's forsaking of Desdemona]; she had a song of
An old thing ’twas, but it express’d her
And she died singing it; that song to-night
Will not go from my mind; I have much to do
But to go hang my head all at one side,
And sing it like poor Barbara. Prithee, dispatch.
[But to . . . dispatch: I feel
like hanging my head and singing a sad song like Barbara.
Please, hurry up with your tasks.]
EMILIA: Shall I go fetch your night-gown?
DESDEMONA: No, unpin me here.
This Lodovico is a proper man.
EMILIA: A very handsome man.
DESDEMONA: He speaks well.
EMILIA: I know a lady in Venice would have walked barefoot
to Palestine for a touch of his nether [lower] lip.
The poor soul sat sighing by a sycamore tree,
Sing all a green willow;
Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knee,
Sing willow, willow, willow:
The fresh streams ran by her, and murmur’d her
Sing willow, willow, willow:
Her salt tears fell from her, and soften’d the
Lay by these:—
Sing willow, willow, willow:
Prithee, hie thee; he’ll come anon.—
Sing all a green willow must be my garland.
Let nobody blame him, his scorn I
Nay, that’s not next. Hark! who is it that
EMILIA: It is the wind.
I call’d my love false love; but what said he
Sing willow, willow, willow:
If I court moe women, you’ll couch with moe
[The "Willow Song": In poetry and
verse, a willow tree often symbolizes loss of, or abandonment
by, a lover. Desdemona has lost Othello's love and laments the
loss in the "Willow Song," which she apparently learned from her
mother and her mother's servant, Barbara. Barbara's lover had
forsaken her, and she expressed her sorrow in the song.
Desdemona adds her own words to the song when she sings, "Let
nobody blame him [Othello], his scorn I approve." Emilia
corrects her, saying, "Nay, that's not next." One might be
tempted to conclude that Desdemona had in mind a weeping willow,
a variety of willow with branches that sag and droop as if in
mourning. However, the weeping willow—of Chinese origin—was not
introduced into England until the 1700s. A willow tree plays a
role in another major Shakespeare play, Hamlet. Ophelia, suffering deep depression
after Hamlet rejects her and her father dies, drowns in a pond
after falling from the branch of a willow. Note that Desdemona
interrupts the song with instructions for Emilia: "Lay by
these—" and "Prithee, hie thee; he'll come anon.]
So, get thee gone; good night. Mine eyes do
Doth that bode weeping? [Does
that mean I am about to weep?]
EMILIA: ’Tis neither here nor there.
DESDEMONA: I have heard it said so. O! these men, these
Dost thou in conscience think, tell me, Emilia,
That there be women do abuse [who
are unfaithful to] their husbands
In such gross kind?
EMILIA: There be some such, no question.
DESDEMONA: Wouldst thou do such a deed for all the
EMILIA: Why, would not you?
DESDEMONA: No, by this heavenly light!
EMILIA: Nor I neither by this heavenly
I might do ’t as well i’ the dark.
DESDEMONA: Wouldst thou do such a deed [cheating on your husband] for
all the world?
EMILIA: The world is a huge thing; ’tis a great price [reward]
For a small vice.
DESDEMONA: In troth [truth],
I think thou wouldst not.
EMILIA: In troth, I think I should, and undo ’t when I had
done. Marry, I would not do such a thing for a joint-ring [finger jewelry with two or more
rings joined to form one ring], nor measures of lawn [very fine fabric used to make
clothing], nor for gowns, petticoats, nor caps, nor any
petty exhibition; but for the whole world, who would not make her
husband a cuckold [man with an
unfaithful wife] to make him a monarch? I should venture
purgatory for ’t. [Emilia
errs in her interpretation of Roman Catholic theology. Roman
Catholics believe that adultery is a mortal (deadly) sin. If the
sinner dies before repenting, he or she goes to hell. A person
who dies with venial (less serious) sins on his or her soul goes
to Purgatory. There, the venial sins are purged to make the
person worthy of going to heaven.]
DESDEMONA: Beshrew [curse]
me, if I would do such a wrong
For the whole world.
EMILIA: Why, the wrong is but a wrong i’ the world; and
having the world for your labour, ’tis a wrong in your own world,
and you might quickly make it right.
[Why, the . . . it right: Why,
committing adultery is not so bad, especially considering that
you would win the world for what you did. Once you have the
world, all you have to do is repent or make up for your
DESDEMONA: I do not think there is any such
EMILIA: Yes, a dozen; and as many to the vantage, as would
store the world they played for.
[Yes . . . for: Yes, a dozen. In
fact, as many women who would vie for the world as a prize for
their infidelity. In other words, tens of thousands—even
But I do think it is their husbands’ faults
If wives do fall. Say that they slack their duties
And pour our treasures into foreign laps,
[Say that . . . laps: Say
that husbands begin tiring of their wives and ignoring them,
then pour themselves into the laps of other women.]
Or else break out in peevish jealousies,
Throwing restraint upon us; or, say they strike
Or scant [reduce] our
former having [former allowance]
in despite [spite];
Why, we have galls [bitter fluids excreted by the liver and stored
in the gallbladder; bitter feelings; irritabilities], and though
we have some grace [willingness
to forgive our husbands],
Yet have we some [desire to
gain] revenge. Let husbands know
Their wives have sense like them; they see and
And have their palates both for sweet and sour,
As husbands have. What is it that they do
When they change us for others? Is it sport?
I think it is; and doth affection [passion; desire; lust] breed
I think it doth; is ’t frailty that thus errs?
It is so too; and have not we affections,
Desires for sport, and frailty, as men have?
Then, let them use us well; else let them know,
The ills we do, their ills instruct us so.
DESDEMONA: Good night, good night; heaven me such usage
Not to pick bad from bad, but by bad mend! [Exeunt.
[heaven . . . mend: Heaven help
me to avoid imitating the bad behavior of women who commit such
Act 5, Scene 1
Cyprus, a street.
Enter IAGO and RODERIGO
IAGO: Here, stand behind this bulk [wall of a stand or cubicle used by
street vendor]; straight will he come:
Wear thy good rapier bare, and put it home.
Quick, quick; fear nothing; I’ll be at thy
[Wear . . . elbow: Keep your
sword unsheathed, and at the right time run him through. Be
quick and have no fear. I will back you up.]
It makes us, or it mars us; think on that,
And fix most firm thy resolution [And
RODERIGO: Be near at hand; I may miscarry in ’t. [Make sure you are nearby in case
something goes wrong.]
IAGO: Here, at thy hand: be bold, and take thy stand.
RODERIGO: I have no great devotion to the
And yet he has given me satisfying reasons:
’Tis but a man gone: forth, my sword; he dies.
['Tis . . . dies: Only one man
will be gone. When I wield my sword, he will die.]
IAGO: I have rubb’d this young quat almost to the sense,
And he grows angry. Now, whether he kill Cassio,
[I have . . . angry: This young
man swells with pus. I have rubbed him to the point of bursting.
Now he is agitated and angry.]
Or Cassio him, or each do kill the other,
Every way makes my gain: live Roderigo,
He calls me to a restitution large
Of gold and jewels that I bobb’d from him,
As gifts to Desdemona;
It must not be: if Cassio do remain,
He hath a daily beauty in his life
That makes me ugly; and, besides, the Moor
May unfold me to him; there stand I in much
No, he must die. But so; I hear him coming.
[live Roderigo . . . him coming:
If Roderigo survives, he will ask me for the gold and jewels I
took from him while pretending they were gifts for Desdemona. I
can't let go of those gains. If Cassio survives, he will be
around to remind me of how handsome he is and how ugly I am.
Besides, Othello might disclose to him the lies I told to him. I
would be in great danger. Therefore, Cassio must die. I hear him
RODERIGO: I know his gait; ’tis he. Villain, thou
diest! [Makes a pass at CASSIO.
CASSIO: That thrust had been mine enemy
But that my coat is better than thou know’st;
I will make proof of thine.
[That thrust . . . thine: That
thrust would have wounded me if I had not been wearing chain
mail under my coat. Now I will test whatever you're wearing for
protection. (Roderigo is wearing no armor.)]
[Draws, and wounds RODERIGO.
RODERIGO: O! I am slain. [IAGO from behind wounds
CASSIO in the leg, and exits.
CASSIO: I am maim’d for ever. Help, ho! murder!
Enter OTHELLO, at a distance.
OTHELLO: The voice of Cassio: Iago keeps his
RODERIGO: O! villain that I am!
OTHELLO: It is e’en so [That's
CASSIO: O, help, ho! light! a surgeon!
OTHELLO: ’Tis he: O brave Iago, honest and
That hast such noble sense of thy friend’s wrong; [You were right all along;]
Thou teachest me [I have learned
a lesson]. Minion, your dear lies dead,
And your unblest fate hies; strumpet, I come!
Forth of my heart those charms, thine eyes, are
Thy bed lust-stain’d shall with lust’s blood be spotted.
[Minion . . . spotted: Desdemona,
your lover lies dead. (But Cassio is still alive.) And your
unblest fate—to go to hell—is about to manifest itself. Whore, I
am coming! I have blotted out from my mind the image of your
charming eyes. Now I will bloody your lust-stained bed.]
Enter LODOVICO and GRATIANO, at a distance.
CASSIO: What ho! no watch? no passage? [no guard? no one
passing by?] murder! murder!
GRATIANO: ’Tis some mischance; the cry is very direful. [Gratiano and Lodovico are too far
away to recognize Cassio or his voice.]
CASSIO: O, help!
RODERIGO: O [I am a]
LODOVICO: Two or three groan: it is a heavy
These may be counterfeits [pretenders;
fakes]; let’s think ’t [it]
To come in to the cry without more help.
RODERIGO: Nobody come? then shall I bleed to
Re-enter IAGO, with a light.
GRATIANO: Here’s one comes in his shirt [nightshirt], with light and
IAGO: Who’s there? whose noise is this that cries on
LODOVICO: We do not know.
IAGO: Did not you hear a cry?
CASSIO: Here, here! for heaven’s sake, help
IAGO: What’s the matter?
GRATIANO: This is Othello’s ancient [Iago], as I take
LODOVICO: The same indeed; a very valiant
IAGO: What are you here that cry so
CASSIO: Iago? O! I am spoil’d, undone by
Give me some help.
IAGO: O me, lieutenant! what villains have done
CASSIO: I think that one of them is
And cannot make away.
IAGO: O treacherous villains!
[To LODOVICO and GRATIANO.] What are you there? come in, and
give some help.
RODERIGO: O! help me here.
CASSIO: That’s one of them.
IAGO: O murderous slave! O villain! [Stabs
RODERIGO: O damn’d Iago! O inhuman dog!
IAGO: Kill men i’ the dark! Where be these bloody thieves [assailants]?
How silent is this town! Ho! murder! murder!
What may you be? are you of good or evil?
LODOVICO: As you shall prove us, praise us [See for yourself].
IAGO: Signior Lodovico?
LODOVICO: He, sir.
IAGO: I cry you mercy. Here’s Cassio hurt by
IAGO: How is it, brother?
CASSIO: My leg is cut in two.
IAGO: Marry, heaven forbid,
Light, gentlemen; I’ll bind it [the
wound] with my shirt.
BIANCA: What is the matter, ho? who is ’t that
IAGO: Who is ’t that cried!
BIANCA: O my dear Cassio! my sweet Cassio!
O Cassio, Cassio, Cassio!
IAGO: O notable strumpet! Cassio, may you suspect [do you know]
Who they should be that have thus mangled you?
GRATIANO: I am sorry to find you thus; I have been to seek
IAGO: Lend me a garter. So. O! for a
To bear him easily hence!
BIANCA: Alas! he faints! O Cassio, Cassio,
IAGO: Gentlemen all, I do suspect this trash [Bianca]
To be a party in this injury.
Patience awhile, good Cassio. Come, come.
Lend me a light. Know we this face, or no?
Alas! my friend and my dear countryman,
Roderigo? no: yes, sure, O heaven! Roderigo.
GRATIANO: What! of Venice?
Iago Even he, sir: did you know him?
GRATIANO: Know him! ay.
IAGO: Signior Gratiano? I cry you gentle
These bloody accidents must excuse my manners,
That so neglected you.
GRATIANO: I am glad to see you.
IAGO: How do you, Cassio? O! a chair, a
GRATIANO: Roderigo! [A chair brought
IAGO: He, he, ’tis he.—O! that’s well said; the
Some good men bear him carefully from hence;
I’ll fetch the general’s surgeon. [To BIANCA.] For
Save you your labour [Don't
bother to help]. He that lies slain [wounded] here,
Was my dear friend. What malice was between you?
CASSIO: None in the world; nor do I know the
IAGO: [To BIANCA.] What! look you pale? O! bear him
out o’ the air— [CASSIO and RODERIGO are borne
Stay you, good gentlemen. Look you pale,
Do you perceive the gastness of [fear
in] her eye?
Nay, if you stare, we shall hear more anon [more from her soon].
Behold her well; I pray you, look upon her:
Do you see, gentlemen? nay, guiltiness will
Though tongues were out of use.
[Behold . . . use: Look her over
closely. Do you see, gentlemen, that her guiltiness speaks in
her countenance when her tongue will not.]
EMILIA: ’Las! [Alas!]
what’s the matter? what’s the matter, husband?
IAGO: Cassio hath here been set on [attacked] in the
By Roderigo and fellows that are ’scap’d [escaped villains]:
He’s almost slain, and Roderigo dead.
EMILIA: Alas! good gentleman; alas! good
IAGO: This is the fruit of whoring. [This is what happens when you
associate with whores.] Prithee,
Go know of Cassio where he supp’d to-night.
What! do you shake at that?
[Go know . . . that: Go ask
Cassio where he had dinner tonight? What! Does my question make
you, Bianca, quiver nervously?]
BIANCA: He supp’d at my house; but I therefore shake
IAGO: O! did he so? I charge you, go with
EMILIA: Fie, fie upon thee, strumpet! [A curse upon thee, whore!]
BIANCA: I am no strumpet, but of life as
As you that thus abuse me.
EMILIA: As I! foh! fie upon thee!
IAGO: Kind gentlemen, let’s go see poor Cassio dress’d [bandaged].
Come, mistress, you must tell’s [tell
us] another tale.
Emilia, run you to the citadel,
And tell my lord and lady what hath happ’d.
Will you go on afore? [Aside.] This is the
That either makes me or fordoes [breaks]
me quite. [Exeunt.
Act 5, Scene 2
A bedchamber in the
castle. DESDEMONA in bed asleep. A light burning.
OTHELLO: It [Desdemona's
supposed infidelity] is the cause, it is the cause, my
Let me not name it to you, you chaste stars!
It is the cause. Yet I’ll not shed her blood,
Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow,
And smooth as monumental alabaster
[monumental alabaster: Alabaster
is a white, semitransparent, or opaque type of gypsum, a
stonelike mineral. Alabaster is used to make monuments, statues,
Yet she must die, else she’ll betray more men.
Put out the light, and then put out the light:
If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
I can again thy former light restore,
Should I repent me; but once put out thy light,
Thou cunning’st pattern of excelling nature,
I know not where is that Promethean heat
That can thy light relume. When I have pluck’d the
[Put out . . . relume: I'll put
out the candlelight. Then I'll kill Desdemona, who had been the
light of my life. If I put out the candle, I can simply light it
again to restore its fire. But once I kill you, Desdemona—you
sly creation of nature—not even Prometheus could restore your
fire. (In Greek mythology, the god Prometheus assured the
survival of the human race by stealing fire from Mount Olympus
in defiance of the king of the gods, Zeus.]
I cannot give it vital growth again,
It needs must wither: I’ll smell it on the tree. [I'll smell this rose (Desdemona)
while she still lives on the bush.] [Kisses
O balmy breath, that dost almost persuade
Justice to break her sword! One more, one more.
[O balmy . . . more: O, your
sweet breath almost persuades me to spare you. One more kiss,
Be thus when thou art dead, and I will kill
And love thee after. One more, and this the last:
[Be thus . . . last: If you are
so appealing when you are dead, I will kill you once more just
to love your appeal. One more kiss, the last.]
So sweet [a kiss] was
ne’er so fatal. I must weep,
But they are cruel tears; this sorrow’s
It strikes where it doth love. She wakes.
DESDEMONA: Who’s there? Othello?
OTHELLO: Ay, Desdemona.
DESDEMONA: Will you come to bed, my lord?
OTHELLO: Have you pray’d to-night,
DESDEMONA: Ay, my lord.
OTHELLO: If you bethink yourself of any
Unreconcil’d as yet to heaven and grace,
Solicit for it straight.
[If you . . . straight: If you
think you have committed a sin that heaven has not yet forgiven,
ask for forgiveness now.]
DESDEMONA: Alas! my lord, what may you mean by
OTHELLO: Well, do it, and be brief; I will walk
I would not kill thy unprepared spirit;
No; heaven forfend [prevent;
protect against; forbid]! I would not kill thy
DESDEMONA: Talk you of killing?
OTHELLO: Ay, I do.
DESDEMONA: Then heaven
Have mercy on me!
OTHELLO: Amen! with all my heart.
DESDEMONA: If you say so, I hope you will not kill
DESDEMONA: And yet I fear you; for you are fatal
When your eyes roll so. Why I should fear I know
Since guiltiness I know not; but yet I feel I
OTHELLO: Think on thy sins.
DESDEMONA: They are loves I bear to you.
OTHELLO: Ay, and for that thou diest.
DESDEMONA: That death’s unnatural that kills for
Alas! why gnaw you so your nether [lower] lip?
Some bloody passion shakes your very frame;
These are portents [bad signs],
but yet, I hope, I hope
They do not point on me.
OTHELLO: Peace, and be still!
DESDEMONA: I will so. What’s the matter?
OTHELLO: That handkerchief which I so lov’d and gave
Thou gav’st to Cassio.
DESDEMONA: No, by my life and soul!
Send for the man and ask him.
OTHELLO: Sweet soul, take heed,
Take heed of perjury; thou’rt on thy death-bed.
DESDEMONA: Ay, but not yet to die.
OTHELLO: Yes, presently;
Therefore confess thee freely of thy sin;
For to deny each article with oath
Cannot remove nor choke the strong conception
That I do groan withal. Thou art to die.
[For to . . . withal: For to deny
on oath each of the sins that make me groan will not make you
innocent—at least in my eyes.]
DESDEMONA: Then Lord have mercy on me!
OTHELLO: I say, amen.
DESDEMONA: And have you mercy too! I never
Offend you in my life; never lov’d Cassio
But with such general warranty [approval]
As I might love [all human
beings]; I never gave him token [the handkerchief or any other token].
OTHELLO: By heaven, I saw my handkerchief in ’s
O perjur’d woman! thou dost stone my heart,
And mak’st me call what I intend to do
A murder, which I thought [would
be] a sacrifice:
I saw the handkerchief.
DESDEMONA: He found it then;
I never gave it [to] him.
Send for him hither;
Let him confess a truth.
OTHELLO: He hath confess’d.
DESDEMONA: What, my lord?
OTHELLO: That he hath us’d thee.
DESDEMONA: How? unlawfully?
DESDEMONA: He will not say so.
OTHELLO: No; his mouth is stopp’d:
Honest Iago hath ta’en order for ’t [has seen to it].
DESDEMONA: O! my fear interprets. What! is he dead? [O! I fear for his life. Is he dead?]
OTHELLO: Had all his hairs been lives, my great
Had stomach for them all [would
have killed each one of them].
DESDEMONA: Alas! he is betray’d and I
OTHELLO: Out, strumpet! Weep’st thou for him to my face? [Out with it, whore! Are you crying
for him to my face?]
DESDEMONA: O! banish me, my lord, but kill me
OTHELLO: Down, strumpet!
DESDEMONA: Kill me to-morrow; let me live
OTHELLO: Nay, if you strive,—
DESDEMONA: But half an hour!
OTHELLO: Being done, there is no pause. [I am done with thinking about your
fate. I cannot grant you a pause.]
DESDEMONA: But while I say one prayer!
OTHELLO: It is too late. [He smothers
EMILIA: [Within.] My lord, my lord! what, ho! my lord,
my lord! [Within: A stage
direction indicating that Emilia's cries are shouted outside the
bedroom—that is, offstage.]
OTHELLO: What noise is this? Not dead? not yet quite
[What . . . quite dead: Is that
noise Desdemona's voice? Is she still alive?]
I that am cruel am yet merciful;
I would not have thee linger in thy pain.
EMILIA: [Within.] What, ho! my lord, my lord!
OTHELLO: Who’s there?
EMILIA: [Within.] O! good my lord, I would speak a
word with you!
OTHELLO: Yes; ’tis Emilia: by and by. She’s dead.
’Tis like she comes to speak of Cassio’s death;
The noise was high. Ha! no more moving?
Still as the grave. Shall she come in? Were ’t
I think she stirs again: no. What’s best to do?
[Yes . . . best to do: Othello
says to himself, "Yes, it is Emilia outside." Then he raises his
voice and says to Emilia, "By and by" ("just give me a moment").
Othello then resumes talking to himself. He says, "She's dead,"
meaning that he believes Desdemona is dead. Othello then
speculates that Emilia has come to inform him that Cassio is
dead (which he is not). Othello remarks that the noisiness of
the incident involving Cassio and Roderigo may have attracted
Emilia to the scene. Looking at Desdemona's apparently lifeless
body, Othello says, "Ha! no more moving?; / Still as the grave.
Shall she (Emilia) come in? Were 't good (a good thing)?"
Othello then says Desdemona seems to be stirring, then says she
is indeed dead. He wonders what to do next.]
If she [Emilia] come in
she’ll sure speak to my wife:
My wife! my wife! what wife? I have no wife:
O, insupportable! [O, this is
too heavy a burden to bear.] O heavy
Methinks it should be now a huge eclipse
Of sun and moon, and that the affrighted globe [frightened earth]
Should yawn at alteration [Should
be wonderstruck at the change].
EMILIA: [Within.] I do beseech you
That I may speak with you, O! good my lord.
OTHELLO: I had forgot thee: O! come in,
Soft, by and by: let me the curtains draw. [Just a minute: let me draw the bed
Where art thou? [Unlocks the door.
What’s the matter with thee now?
EMILIA: O! my good lord, yonder’s foul murder
OTHELLO: What! now?
EMILIA: But now, my lord.
OTHELLO: It is the very error of the moon;
She comes more near the earth than she was wont,
And makes men mad.
[She comes . . . mad: When the
moon comes closer to the earth, it drives men mad.]
EMILIA: Cassio, my lord, has kill’d a young
OTHELLO: Roderigo kill’d!
And Cassio kill’d?
EMILIA: No, Cassio is not kill’d.
OTHELLO: Not Cassio kill’d! then murder’s out of tune,
[then murder has taken the wrong
And sweet revenge grows harsh. [And my revenge is unfulfilled.]
DESDEMONA: O! falsely, falsely murder’d.
EMILIA: Alas! what cry is that?
OTHELLO: That! what?
EMILIA: Out, and alas! that was my lady’s
Help! Help, ho! help! O lady, speak again!
Sweet Desdemona! O! sweet mistress, speak.
DESDEMONA: A guiltless death I die.
EMILIA: O! who hath done this deed?
DESDEMONA: Nobody; I myself; farewell:
Commend me to my kind lord. O! farewell!
OTHELLO: Why, how should she be murder’d?
EMILIA: Alas! who knows?
OTHELLO: You heard her say herself it was not
EMILIA: She said so; I must needs report the
OTHELLO: She’s like a liar gone to burning
’Twas I that kill’d her.
EMILIA: O! the more angel she,
And you the blacker devil.
OTHELLO: She turn’d to folly [She gave in to her lust], and she was a
EMILIA: Thou dost belie her [falsify her character], and thou art a
OTHELLO: She was false as water. [Desdemona was unreliable and
unstable, like a river or an ocean that may be calm and serene
one moment, then wild and tempestuous the next.]
EMILIA: Thou art rash as fire to say
That she was false: O! she was heavenly true.
OTHELLO: Cassio did tup [have
sex with] her; ask thy husband else.
O! I were damn’d beneath all depth in hell
But that I did proceed upon just grounds
To this extremity. Thy husband knew it all.
[O! I were . . . it all: O! I
would be damned to the lowest part of hell if I did not have
justice on my side in killing her. Your husband knew all about
EMILIA: My husband!
OTHELLO: Thy husband.
EMILIA: That she was false to wedlock?
OTHELLO: Ay, with Cassio. Nay, had she been
If heaven would make me such another world
Of one entire and perfect chrysolite [gemstone],
I’d not have sold her for it.
[If heaven . . . for it: If
heaven had offered me a spectacular gemstone as large as the
earth in trade for Desdemona, I would not have given her up so
long as she remained faithful to me.]
EMILIA: My husband!
OTHELLO: Ay, ’twas he that told me first:
An honest man he is, and hates the slime
That sticks on filthy deeds.
EMILIA: My husband!
OTHELLO: What needs this iterance [repetition], woman? I say thy
EMILIA: O mistress! villany hath made mocks with
My husband says that she was false!
[O mistress . . . false: O, my
poor mistress, a villain—my husband—has made a mockery of your
love for Othello. He dares to say that you were unfaithful.]
OTHELLO: He, woman;
I say, thy husband: dost understand the word?
[He . . . word: Yes, I say that
it was he, woman, your husband. Don't you understand the word?]
My friend, thy husband, honest, honest Iago.
EMILIA: If he say so, may his pernicious
Rot half a grain a day! he lies to the heart:
She was too fond of her most filthy bargain.
[If he . . . bargain: If Iago
says Desdemona was unfaithful, may he rot inch by inch. He is a
liar. Desdemona was too fond of you even though her marriage to
you was a filthy bargain.]
EMILIA: Do thy worst:
This deed of thine is no more worthy heaven
Than thou wast worthy her.
OTHELLO: Peace! you were best. [Peace! You had best say no more.]
EMILIA: Thou hast not half the power to do me
As I have to be hurt. O gull! O dolt!
[Thou . . . dolt!: You don't have
half the power to inflict pain on me as I have to endure it. O
you gullible fool! How stupid you are!]
As ignorant as dirt! thou hast done a deed,—
I care not for thy sword; I’ll make thee known,
Though I lost twenty lives. Help! help, ho!
[I care . . . lives: Your sword
doesn't scare me. I'll expose you even if you kill me twenty
The Moor has kill’d my mistress! Murder! murder!
Enter MONTANO, GRATIANO, IAGO, and Others.
MONTANO: What is the matter? How now,
EMILIA: O! are you come, Iago? you have done
That men must lay their murders on your neck.
GRATIANO: What is the matter?
EMILIA: Disprove this villain if thou be’st [be] a man:
He says thou told’st him that his wife was
I know thou didst not, thou’rt not such a
Speak, for my heart is
[Disprove . . . heart is full:
Iago, prove that Othello is a liar if you are a man. He says you
told him that his wife was unfaithful. Speak, my heart is at the
IAGO: I told him what I thought, and told no
Than what he found himself was apt and true.
EMILIA: But did you ever tell him she was
IAGO: I did.
EMILIA: You told a lie, an odious damned
Upon my soul, a lie, a wicked lie.
She false with Cassio! Did you say with Cassio?
IAGO: With Cassio, mistress. Go to, charm your tongue.
[Now hold your tongue.]
EMILIA: I will not charm my tongue; I am bound to
My mistress here lies murder’d in her bed.
All. O heavens forfend [forbid]!
EMILIA: And your reports have set the murder
OTHELLO: Nay, stare not, masters; it is true,
GRATIANO: ’Tis a strange truth.
MONTANO: O monstrous act!
EMILIA: Villany [Villainy]!
I think upon ’t, I think, I smell ’t; O villany!
I thought so then; I’ll kill myself for grief.
[I thought . . . grief: I
suspected foul play when Iago took Desdemona's handkerchief from
me. I'll kill myself out of grief.]
O! villany, villany!
IAGO: What! are you mad? I charge you, get you
EMILIA: Good gentlemen, let me have leave to
’Tis proper I obey him, but not now.
Perchance, Iago, I will ne’er go home.
OTHELLO: O! O! O! [Falls on the bed.
EMILIA: Nay, lay thee down and roar, [As you lie there, you should roar
For thou hast kill’d the sweetest innocent
That e’er did lift up eye.
OTHELLO: O! she was foul.
I scarce did know you, uncle. There lies your niece,
[Uncle: Reference to Gratiano,
the brother of Desdemona's father, Brabantio, and therefore
Desdemona's uncle. Gratiano became Othello's "uncle-in-law" when
Othello married Desdemona.]
Whose breath, indeed, these hands have newly
I know this act shows terrible and grim.
GRATIANO: Poor Desdemona! I am glad thy father’s
Thy match was mortal to him, and pure grief
Shore his old thread in twain: did he live now,
This sight would make him do a desperate turn,
Yea, curse his better angel from his side,
And fall to reprobation.
[Thy match . . . reprobation:
Your marriage to Othello was a deadly blow to him. Your father's
grief over the marriage cut him in two. If he were still alive,
this sight would make him curse heaven even at the risk
OTHELLO: ’Tis pitiful; but yet Iago knows
That she with Cassio hath the act of shame
A thousand times committed; Cassio confess’d it:
And she did gratify [reward]
his amorous works
With that recognizance and pledge of love [the handkerchief as a symbol and
pledge of love]
Which I first gave her. I saw it in his hand:
It was a handkerchief, an antique token
My father gave my mother.
EMILIA: O heaven! O heavenly powers!
IAGO: Come, hold your peace. [Shut up.]
EMILIA: ’Twill out, ’twill out; I hold my peace, sir?
No, I will speak as liberal as the north;
Let heaven and men and devils, let them all,
All, all, cry shame against me, yet I’ll speak.
['Twill . . . I'll speak: The
truth will come out. Will I be quiet about it? No, sir. I will
speak out as liberally as the north wind blows across the world.
Heaven, hell, and earth may all cry shame against me . But I
will have my say.]
IAGO: Be wise, and get you home.
EMILIA: I will not. [IAGO offers to stab
Your sword upon a woman?
EMILIA: O thou dull Moor! that handkerchief thou speak’st
I found by fortune and did give [to]
For often, with a solemn earnestness,
More than, indeed, belong’d to such a trifle,
He begg’d of me to steal it.
IAGO: Villanous whore!
EMILIA: She give it Cassio! no, alas! I found
And I did give ’t [to] my
IAGO: Filth, thou liest!
EMILIA: By heaven, I do not, I do not,
O murderous coxcomb [buffoon]!
what should such a fool
Do with so good a wife?
OTHELLO: Are there no stones in heaven
But what serve for the thunder? Precious villain! [He runs
at IAGO. IAGO stabs EMILIA, and exits.
[Are these . . . thunder: Are
there no lightning bolts in heaven that will kill Iago instead
of merely making thunder? You unmitigated villain!]
GRATIANO: The woman falls: sure, he has kill’d his
EMILIA: Ay, ay; O! lay me by my mistress’
GRATIANO: He’s gone; but his wife’s
MONTANO: ’Tis a notorious villain. Take you this
Which I have here recover’d from the Moor.
Come, guard the door without; let him not pass,
But kill him rather. I’ll after that same
For ’tis a damnèd slave. [Exeunt MONTANO and
OTHELLO: I am not valiant neither,
But every puny whipster [tiny
person; insignificant person] gets my
But why should honour outlive honesty?
[But why . . . honesty: Why
should my reputation as a man and as a military leader outlive
the honesty of Desdemona, who was loyal and faithful to me after
Let it go all.
EMILIA: What did thy song bode, lady?
Hark, canst thou hear me? I will play the swan,
And die in music:—
[ I will . . . music: In myth and
legend, a swan was said to sing a song when it was dying.]
[singing] Willow, willow, willow.
Moor, she was chaste; she lov’d thee, cruel
So come my soul to bliss [heaven]
as I speak true;
So speaking as I think, I die, I die.
OTHELLO: I have another weapon in this
It is a sword of Spain, the ice brook’s temper [tempered in ice water].
O! here it is. Uncle, I must come forth.
GRATIANO: [Within.] If thou attempt it, it will cost
Thou hast no weapon, and perforce must suffer.
OTHELLO: Look in upon me then, and speak with
Or, naked [unarmed] as I
am, I will assault thee.
GRATIANO: What is the matter?
OTHELLO: Behold! I have a weapon;
A better never did itself sustain
Upon a soldier’s thigh: I have seen the day,
That with this little arm, and this good sword,
I have made my way through more impediments
Than twenty times your stop [a
reference to Gratiano as a barrier]: but, O vain
Who can control his fate? ’tis not so now.
Be not afraid, though you do see me weapon’d;
Here is my journey’s end, here is my butt,
And very sea-mark of my utmost sail.
[Here is . . . sail: Here is the
end of my journey through life; here is the very sea-mark (as
opposed to landmark) where my voyage will end.]
Do you go back dismay’d? ’tis a lost fear;
Man but a rush against Othello’s breast,
And he retires. Where should Othello go?
[Do you . . . retires: Are you
backing away from me in fear? Don't worry. If you manned or
brandished only a rush (a marsh plant with a hollow stem)
against me, I would retire.]
Now how dost thou look now? O ill-starr’d [ill-fated; unlucky]
Pale as thy smock! when we shall meet at compt [the accounting before God; Day of
This look of thine will hurl my soul from
And fiends will snatch at it. Cold, cold, my
Even like thy chastity.
[Cold . . . chastity: You are
cold now, just as you were cold toward other men except me.]
O! cursed, cursed slave. Whip me, ye devils,
From the possession of this heavenly sight!
Blow me about in winds! roast me in sulphur!
Wash me in steep-down gulfs of liquid fire!
O Desdemona! Desdemona! dead!
Oh! Oh! Oh!
Enter LODOVICO, MONTANO, CASSIO carried in a chair, and Officers
with IAGO, prisoner.
LODOVICO: Where is this rash and most unfortunate
OTHELLO: That’s he that was Othello; here I
LODOVICO: Where is that viper? bring the villain
OTHELLO: I look down towards his feet; but that’s a
[I look . . . fable: I look
at his feet to see whether they are hooves, like a devil's. But
I guess it's just a myth that devils have hooves.]
If that thou be’st [you be]
a devil, I cannot kill thee. [Wounds IAGO.
LODOVICO: Wrench his sword from him.
IAGO: I bleed, sir; but not kill’d.
OTHELLO: I am not sorry neither; I’d have thee
For, in my sense, ’tis happiness to die.
LODOVICO: O thou Othello! that wert once so
Fall’n in the practice of a damnèd slave,
[Fall'n: Fallen, meaning deceived. Thus: Deceived by believing the
lies of this damnèd slave, Iago.]
What shall be said to thee?
OTHELLO: Why, any thing:
An honourable murderer, if you will;
For nought did I in hate, but all in honour.
LODOVICO: This wretch hath part confess’d his
Did you and he consent in Cassio’s death?
CASSIO: Dear general, I never gave you
OTHELLO: I do believe it, and I ask your
Will you, I pray, demand that demi-devil
Why he hath thus ensnar’d my soul and body?
[Will you . . . body: Will you
demand of Iago why he lied to me?]
IAGO: Demand me nothing: what you know, you
From this time forth I never will speak word.
LODOVICO: What! not to pray?
GRATIANO: Torments will ope your lips. [Torture will make you talk.]
OTHELLO: Well, thou dost best. [Do what you have to do.]
LODOVICO: Sir, you shall understand what hath
Which, as I think, you know not. Here is a
Found in the pocket of the slain Roderigo,
And here another; the one of them imports
The death of Cassio to be undertook
OTHELLO: O villain!
CASSIO: Most heathenish and most gross!
LODOVICO: Now here’s another discontented paper [letter of complaint],
Found in his pocket too; and this, it seems,
Roderigo meant to have sent this damnèd villain [sent to this damnèd villain, Iago]
But that, belike [probably],
Iago in the interim
Came in and satisfied [murdered]
OTHELLO: O the pernicious caitiff [coward; villain]!
How came you, Cassio, by that handkerchief
That was my wife’s?
CASSIO: I found it in my chamber;
And he [Iago] himself
confess’d but even now
That there he dropp’d it for a special purpose
Which wrought to [promoted;
furthered] his desire.
OTHELLO: O fool! fool! fool!
CASSIO: There is besides in Roderigo’s
How he upbraids Iago that he made him
Brave [provoke; insult]
me upon the watch [to get me in
trouble]; whereon it came
That I was cast [cast out of
your favor]: and even but now he spake,
After long seeming dead, Iago hurt him,
Iago set him on.
LODOVICO: You [Othello]
must forsake this room and go with us;
Your power and your command is taken off,
And Cassio rules in Cyprus. For this slave [Iago],
If there be any cunning cruelty
That can torment him much and hold him long,
[and . . . long: While keeping
him alive for a long time]
It shall be his. You shall close prisoner rest.
Till that the nature of your fault be known
To the Venetian state. Come, bring him away.
[You shall . . . state: Othello,
you shall remain a closely guarded prisoner until the details of
your fault are made clear.]
OTHELLO: Soft you [Just a
moment]; a word or two before you go.
I have done the state some service, and they know
No more of that. I pray you, in your letters,
When you shall these unlucky deeds relate,
Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate [don't play down anything],
Nor set down aught in malice [Nor
should you exaggerate the facts out of malice]: then,
must you speak
Of one that lov’d not wisely but too well;
Of one not easily jealous, but, being wrought [manipulated],
Perplex’d in the extreme; of one whose hand,
Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away
Richer than all his tribe; of one whose subdu’d eyes
[Like the . . . tribe: One
can interpret Indian at least three ways: (1) As a reference to a native
American who was ignorant of the value of a pearl. (2) As a
reference to an inhabitant of Judea, an ancient region
consisting of present-day southern Israel and southwest Jordan.
In an early text of Othello, the prepositional phrase at the beginning of line 403
reads, "Like the base Iudean." Iudea or Iudaea is Latin for Judea. Base Iudean could be a reference to Judas
Iscariot, who "threw away" Jesus—and apparently his own soul.
(3) As a reference to an inhabitant of India. Indians are well
known for harvesting and selling pearls.]
Albeit unused to the melting mood,
[Albeit . . . mood: Although
unused to responding to highly emotional events]
Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees [acacia trees]
Their med’cinable [medicinal]
gum. Set you down this;
And say besides, that in Aleppo [large
city in northwestern Syria] once,
Where a malignant and a turban’d Turk
Beat a Venetian and traduc’d [humiliated]
I took by the throat the circumcised dog,
And smote him thus. [Stabs himself.
LODOVICO: O bloody period!
GRATIANO: All that’s spoke is marr’d. [All that we hear and see in this
place is horrifying.]
OTHELLO: I kiss’d thee ere I kill’d thee; no way but
this, [Falling upon DESDEMONA.
Killing myself to die upon a kiss. [Dies.
CASSIO: This did I fear, but thought he had no
For he was great of heart.
LODOVICO: [To IAGO.] O Spartan [cruel] dog!
More fell [deadly] than
anguish, hunger, or the sea.
Look on the tragic loading of this bed; [The bed is "loaded" with the bodies of Othello and
This is thy work; the object poisons sight; [Iago poisons my sight.]
Let it [Iago] be hid.
Gratiano, keep the house,
And seize upon the fortunes of the Moor,
For they succeed on you [For you
inherited them]. To you, lord governor [Cassio],
Remains the censure of this hellish villain,
The time, the place, the torture; O! enforce it.
Myself will straight aboard, and to the state
This heavy act with heavy heart relate.
[Myself . . . related: I myself
will now board a ship bound for Venice to report, with a heavy
heart, what has happened here.]