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ACT IV SCENE ICyprus. Before the castle.
IAGOWill you think so?
OTHELLOThink so, Iago!
To kiss in private? 5
OTHELLOAn unauthorized kiss.
IAGOOr to be naked with her friend in bed
An hour or more, not meaning any harm?
OTHELLONaked in bed, Iago, and not mean harm!
It is hypocrisy against the devil: 10
They that mean virtuously, and yet do so,
The devil their virtue tempts, and they tempt heaven.
IAGOSo they do nothing, ’tis a venial slip:
But if I give my wife a handkerchief,–
OTHELLOWhat then? 15
IAGOWhy, then, ’tis hers, my lord; and, being hers,
She may, I think, bestow’t on any man.
OTHELLOShe is protectress of her honour too:
May she give that?
IAGOHer honour is an essence that’s not seen; 20
They have it very oft that have it not:
But, for the handkerchief,–
OTHELLOBy heaven, I would most gladly have forgot it.
Thou said’st, it comes o’er my memory,
As doth the raven o’er the infected house, 25
Boding to all–he had my handkerchief.
IAGOAy, what of that?
OTHELLOThat’s not so good now.
If I had said I had seen him do you wrong? 30
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– 35
OTHELLOHath he said any thing?
IAGOHe hath, my lord; but be you well assured,
No more than he’ll unswear.
OTHELLOWhat hath he said?
IAGO‘Faith, that he did–I know not what he did. 40
OTHELLOWhat? what?
OTHELLOWith her?
IAGOWith her, on her; what you will.
OTHELLOLie with her! lie on her! We say lie on her, when 45
they belie her. Lie with her! that’s fulsome.
confess, and be hanged for his labour;–first, to be
hanged, and then to confess.–I tremble at it.
Nature would not invest herself in such shadowing 50
passion without some instruction. It is not words
that shake me thus. Pish! Noses, ears, and lips.
–Is’t possible?–Confess–handkerchief!–O devil!–
Falls in a trance.
IAGOWork on,
My medicine, work! Thus credulous fools are caught; 55
And many worthy and chaste dames even thus,
All guiltless, meet reproach. What, ho! my lord!
My lord, I say! Othello!
How now, Cassio!
CASSIOWhat’s the matter? 60
IAGOMy lord is fall’n into an epilepsy:
This is his second fit; he had one yesterday.
CASSIORub him about the temples.
IAGONo, forbear;
The lethargy must have his quiet course: 65
If not, 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. 70
How is it, general? have you not hurt your head?
OTHELLODost thou mock me?
IAGOI mock you! no, by heaven.
Would you would bear your fortune like a man!
OTHELLOA horned man’s a monster and a beast. 75
IAGOThere’s many a beast then in a populous city,
And many a civil monster.
OTHELLODid he confess it?
IAGOGood sir, be a man;
Think every bearded fellow that’s but yoked 80
May draw with you: there’s millions now alive
That nightly lie in those unproper beds
Which they dare swear peculiar: your case is better.
O, ’tis the spite of hell, the fiend’s arch-mock,
To lip a wanton in a secure couch, 85
And to suppose her chaste! No, let me know;
And knowing what I am, I know what she shall be.
OTHELLOO, thou art wise; ’tis certain.
IAGOStand you awhile apart;
Confine yourself but in a patient list. 90
Whilst you were here o’erwhelmed with your grief–
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; 95
The which he promised. Do but encave yourself,
And mark the fleers, the gibes, and notable scorns,
That dwell in every region of his face;
For I will make him tell the tale anew,
Where, how, how oft, how long ago, and when 100
He hath, and is again to cope your wife:
I say, but mark his gesture. Marry, patience;
Or I shall say you are all in all in spleen,
And nothing of a man.
OTHELLODost thou hear, Iago? 105
I will be found most cunning in my patience;
But–dost thou hear?–most bloody.
IAGOThat’s not amiss;
But yet keep time in all. Will you withdraw?
OTHELLO retires.
Now will I question Cassio of Bianca, 110
A housewife that by selling her desires
Buys herself bread and clothes: it is a creature
That dotes on Cassio; as ’tis the strumpet’s plague
To beguile many and be beguiled by one:
He, when he hears of her, cannot refrain 115
From the excess of laughter. Here he comes:
Re-enter CASSIO.
As he shall smile, Othello shall go mad;
And his unbookish jealousy must construe
Poor Cassio’s smiles, gestures and light behavior,
Quite in the wrong. How do you now, lieutenant? 120
CASSIOThe worser that you give me the addition
Whose want even kills me.
IAGOPly Desdemona well, and you are sure on’t.
Speaking lower
Now, if this suit lay in Bianco’s power,
How quickly should you speed! 125
CASSIOAlas, poor caitiff!
OTHELLOLook, how he laughs already!
IAGOI never knew woman love man so.
CASSIOAlas, poor rogue! I think, i’ faith, she loves me.
OTHELLONow he denies it faintly, and laughs it out. 130
IAGODo you hear, Cassio?
OTHELLONow he importunes him
To tell it o’er: go to; well said, well said.
IAGOShe gives it out that you shall marry hey:
Do you intend it? 135
CASSIOHa, ha, ha!
OTHELLODo you triumph, Roman? do you triumph?
CASSIOI marry her! what? a customer! Prithee, bear some
charity to my wit: do not think it so unwholesome.
Ha, ha, ha! 140
OTHELLOSo, so, so, so: they laugh that win.
IAGO‘Faith, the cry goes that you shall marry her.
CASSIOPrithee, say true.
IAGOI am a very villain else.
OTHELLOHave you scored me? Well. 145
CASSIOThis 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.
OTHELLOIago beckons me; now he begins the story.
CASSIOShe was here even now; she haunts me in every place. 150
I was the other day talking on the sea-bank with
certain Venetians; and thither comes the bauble,
and, by this hand, she falls me thus about my neck–
OTHELLOCrying ‘O dear Cassio!’ as it were: his gesture
imports it. 155
CASSIOSo hangs, and lolls, and weeps upon me; so hales,
and pulls me: ha, ha, ha!
OTHELLONow he tells how she plucked him to my chamber. O,
I see that nose of yours, but not that dog I shall
throw it to. 160
CASSIOWell, I must leave her company.
IAGOBefore me! look, where she comes.
CASSIO‘Tis such another fitchew! marry a perfumed one.
What do you mean by this haunting of me?
BIANCALet the devil and his dam haunt you! What did you 165
mean by that same handkerchief you gave me even now?
I was a fine fool to take it. I must take out the
work?–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 token, and I must take out the 170
work? There; give it your hobby-horse: wheresoever
you had it, I’ll take out no work on’t.
CASSIOHow now, my sweet Bianca! how now! how now!
OTHELLOBy heaven, that should be my handkerchief!
BIANCAAn you’ll come to supper to-night, you may; an you 175
will not, come when you are next prepared for.
IAGOAfter her, after her.
CASSIO‘Faith, I must; she’ll rail in the street else.
IAGOWill you sup there?
CASSIO‘Faith, I intend so. 180
IAGOWell, I may chance to see you; for I would very fain
speak with you.
CASSIOPrithee, come; will you?
IAGOGo to; say no more.
IAGODid you perceive how he laughed at his vice? 185
IAGOAnd did you see the handkerchief?
OTHELLOWas that mine?
IAGOYours by this hand: and to see how he prizes the
foolish woman your wife! she gave it him, and he 190
hath given it his whore.
OTHELLOI would have him nine years a-killing.
A fine woman! a fair woman! a sweet woman!
IAGONay, you must forget that.
OTHELLOAy, let her rot, and perish, and be damned to-night; 195
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 tasks.
IAGONay, that’s not your way. 200
OTHELLOHang 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 and invention:–
IAGOShe’s the worse for all this. 205
OTHELLOO, a thousand thousand times: and then, of so
gentle a condition!
IAGOAy, too gentle.
OTHELLONay, that’s certain: but yet the pity of it, Iago!
O Iago, the pity of it, Iago! 210
IAGOIf you are so fond over her iniquity, give her
patent to offend; for, if it touch not you, it comes
near nobody.
OTHELLOI will chop her into messes: cuckold me!
IAGOO, ’tis foul in her. 215
OTHELLOWith mine officer!
IAGOThat’s fouler.
OTHELLOGet me some poison, Iago; this night: I’ll not
expostulate with her, lest her body and beauty
unprovide my mind again: this night, Iago. 220
IAGODo it not with poison, strangle her in her bed, even
the bed she hath contaminated.
OTHELLOGood, good: the justice of it pleases: very good.
IAGOAnd for Cassio, let me be his undertaker: you
shall hear more by midnight. 225
OTHELLOExcellent good.
A trumpet within.
What trumpet is that same?
IAGOSomething from Venice, sure. ‘Tis Lodovico
Come from the duke: and, see, your wife is with him.
Enter LODOVICO, DESDEMONA, and Attendants.
LODOVICOSave you, worthy general! 230
OTHELLOWith all my heart, sir.
LODOVICOThe duke and senators of Venice greet you.
Gives him a letter
OTHELLOI kiss the instrument of their pleasures.
Opens the letter, and reads.
DESDEMONAAnd what’s the news, good cousin Lodovico?
IAGOI am very glad to see you, signior 235
Welcome to Cyprus.
LODOVICOI thank you. How does Lieutenant Cassio?
IAGOLives, sir.
DESDEMONACousin, there’s fall’n between him and my lord
An unkind breach: but you shall make all well. 240
OTHELLOAre you sure of that?
OTHELLOReads. “That fail you not to do, as you will–“
LODOVICOHe did not call; he’s busy in the paper.
Is there division ‘twixt my lord and Cassio?
DESDEMONAA most unhappy one: I would do much 245
To atone them, for the love I bear to Cassio.
OTHELLOFire and brimstone!
OTHELLOAre you wise?
DESDEMONAWhat, is he angry? 250
LODOVICOMay be the letter moved him;
For, as I think, they do command him home,
Deputing Cassio in his government.
DESDEMONATrust me, I am glad on’t.
OTHELLOIndeed! 255
OTHELLOI am glad to see you mad.
DESDEMONAWhy, sweet Othello,–
OTHELLOStriking her.
DESDEMONAI have not deserved this.
LODOVICOMy lord, this would not be believed in Venice, 260
Though I should swear I saw’t: ’tis very much:
Make her amends; she weeps.
OTHELLOO devil, devil!
If that the earth could teem with woman’s tears,
Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile. 265
Out of my sight!
DESDEMONAI will not stay to offend you.
LODOVICOTruly, an obedient lady:
I do beseech your lordship, call her back.
OTHELLOMistress! 270
OTHELLOWhat would you with her, sir?
LODOVICOWho, I, my lord?
OTHELLOAy; you did wish that I would make her turn:
Sir, she can turn, and turn, and yet go on, 275
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 passion!–
I am commanded home. Get you away; 280
I’ll send for you anon. Sir, I obey the mandate,
And will return to Venice. Hence, avaunt!
Cassio shall have my place. And, sir, tonight,
I do entreat that we may sup together:
You are welcome, sir, to Cyprus.–Goats and monkeys! 285
LODOVICOIs this the noble Moor whom our full senate
Call all in all sufficient? Is this the nature
Whom passion could not shake? whose solid virtue
The shot of accident, nor dart of chance,
Could neither graze nor pierce? 290
IAGOHe is much changed.
LODOVICOAre his wits safe? is he not light of brain?
IAGOHe’s that he is: I may not breathe my censure
What he might be: if what he might he is not,
I would to heaven he were! 295
LODOVICOWhat, strike his wife!
IAGO‘Faith, that was not so well; yet would I knew
That stroke would prove the worst!
LODOVICOIs it his use?
Or did the letters work upon his blood, 300
And new-create this fault?
IAGOAlas, alas!
It is not honesty in me to speak
What I have seen and known. You shall observe him,
And his own courses will denote him so 305
That I may save my speech: do but go after,
And mark how he continues.
LODOVICOI am sorry that I am deceived in him.

Othello, Act 4, Scene 2


Explanatory Notes for Act 4, Scene 1

From Othello. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark & Maynard.

Abbreviations. — A.-S. = Anglo-Saxon: M.E. = Middle English (from the 13th to the 15th century) ; Fr. = French ; Ger. = German ; Gr. = Greek ; Cf. = compare (Lat. confer) ; Abbott refers to the excellent Shakespearean Grammar of Dr. Abbott; Schmidt, to Dr. Schmidt’s invaluable Shakespeare Lexicon.


20. Essence, an existence.

25. Where there was an invalid, this sight might be thought portentous.

27. Iago would attach no importance to that. Othello says that that is unlike his usual wisdom.

34, sq. The sentence is compressed. Some by importunity over-persuade; others give way before the forward folly of the mistress. Each class are ready enough to blab.

52. Nosessq. Othello is imagining the familiarity which he supposes to have passed between Cassio and Desdemona.

65. Lethargy, heavy sleep.

90. In a patient list, within the limits of patience. List, literally the selvage of cloth; then a place enclosed by a ring or border.

94. Made your fit an excuse to dismiss him.

96. Encave yourself, conceal yourself behind something.

118. Unbookish, ignorant.

121. Addition, title (of lieutenant).

124. Power, or dower. Readings vary.

While lago draws out Cassio, Othello is watching and listening.

137. Shakespeare had been studying for his Roman plays about this time.

145. Have you settled with me? or have you branded me with a mark of disgrace?

156. Hale, form of haul. Cf . Acts viii. 3. “Haling men and women committed them to prison.”

162. Before me, a euphemism for before God.

163. Fitchew, a pole-cat.

174. Should, used for must.

212. Patent, permission.

213. I will dispose of him.

243. Othello has reached the end of the letter, reading to himself.

246. Atone. Der. at one; to reconcile.

278. While speaking to Lodovico he pauses to rail at Desdemona.

297. Probably the second clause of Iago’s speech is an aside.


How to cite the explanatory notes:Shakespeare, William. Othello. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark & Maynard, 1892.