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ACT IV SCENE IIIAnother room in the castle.
LODOVICOI do beseech you, sir, trouble yourself no further.
OTHELLOO, pardon me: ’twill do me good to walk.
LODOVICOMadam, good night; I humbly thank your ladyship.
DESDEMONAYour honour is most welcome. 5
OTHELLOWill you walk, sir?
O, –Desdemona,–
OTHELLOGet you to bed on the instant; I will be returned
forthwith: dismiss your attendant there: look it be done. 10
DESDEMONAI will, my lord.
Exeunt OTHELLO, LODOVICO, and Attendants.
EMILIAHow goes it now? he looks gentler than he did.
DESDEMONAHe says he will return incontinent:
He hath commanded me to go to bed,
And bade me to dismiss you. 15
EMILIADismiss me!
DESDEMONAIt was his bidding: therefore, good Emilia,.
Give me my nightly wearing, and adieu:
We must not now displease him.
EMILIAI would you had never seen him! 20
DESDEMONASo would not I my love doth so approve him,
That even his stubbornness, his cheques, his frowns–
Prithee, unpin me,–have grace and favour in them.
EMILIAI have laid those sheets you bade me on the bed.
DESDEMONAAll’s one. Good faith, how foolish are our minds! 25
If I do die before thee prithee, shroud me
In one of those same sheets.
EMILIACome, come you talk.
DESDEMONAMy mother had a maid call’d Barbara:
She was in love, and he she loved proved mad 30
And did forsake her: she had a song of ‘willow;’
An old thing ’twas, but it express’d her fortune,
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, 35
And sing it like poor Barbara. Prithee, dispatch.
EMILIAShall I go fetch your night-gown?
DESDEMONANo, unpin me here.
This Lodovico is a proper man.
EMILIAA very handsome man. 40
DESDEMONAHe speaks well.
EMILIAI know a lady in Venice would have walked barefoot
to Palestine for a touch of his nether lip.
DESDEMONA[Singing.] The poor soul sat singing by a sycamore tree.
Sing all a green willow:
Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knee, 45
Sing willow, willow, willow:
The fresh streams ran by her, and murmur’d her moans;
Sing willow, willow, willow;
Her salt tears fell from her, and soften’d the stones;
Lay by these:– 50
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 approve, —
Nay, that’s not next.– Hark! who is’t that knocks? 55
EMILIAIt’s the wind.
DESDEMONA[Singing.] I called my love false love;
but what said he then?
Sing willow, willow, willow:
If I court moe women, you’ll couch with moe men!
So, get thee gone; good night Ate eyes do itch; 60
Doth that bode weeping?
EMILIA‘Tis neither here nor there.
DESDEMONAI have heard it said so. O, these men, these men!
Dost thou in conscience think, — tell me, Emilia, —
That there be women do abuse their husbands 65
In such gross kind?
EMILIAThere be some such, no question.
DESDEMONAWouldst thou do such a deed for all the world?
EMILIAWhy, would not you?
DESDEMONANo, by this heavenly light! 70
EMILIANor I neither by this heavenly light;
I might do’t as well i’ the dark.
DESDEMONAWouldst thou do such a deed for all the world?
EMILIAThe world’s a huge thing: it is a great price.
For a small vice. 75
DESDEMONAIn troth, I think thou wouldst not.
EMILIAIn troth, I think I should; and undo’t when I had
done. Marry, I would not do such a thing for a
joint-ring, nor for measures of lawn, nor for
gowns, petticoats, nor caps, nor any petty 80
exhibition; but for the whole world,–why, who would
not make her husband a cuckold to make him a
monarch? I should venture purgatory for’t.
DESDEMONABeshrew me, if I would do such a wrong
For the whole world. 85
EMILIAWhy 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.
DESDEMONAI do not think there is any such woman.
EMILIAYes, a dozen; and as many to the vantage as would 90
store the world they played for.
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,
Or else break out in peevish jealousies, 95
Throwing restraint upon us; or say they strike us,
Or scant our former having in despite;
Why, we have galls, and though we have some grace,
Yet have we some revenge. Let husbands know
Their wives have sense like them: they see and smell 100
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 breed it?
I think it doth: is’t frailty that thus errs? 105
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.
DESDEMONAGood night, good night: heaven me such uses send, 110
Not to pick bad from bad, but by bad mend!

Othello, Act 5, Scene 1


Explanatory Notes for Act 4, Scene 3

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.


13. Incontinent, immediately.

35. But, preventive. At one side. We still say a-side (at side), but on one side.

25. All’s one, it is of no consequence.

43. sq. A song much like this is found in Percy’s Reliques.

55. She has forgotten the words.

62. Emilia avoids giving a direct affirmative.

86, sq. It is only wrong if it becomes known to the world; now, if one is to gain the world for it, the world is at your command, and therefore it is no matter.

97. Having, property. Cf. “The gentleman is of no having.” — Merry Wives., iii. 2, 73.

98. We are vexed.

111. Mend, amend.


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