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ACT I SCENE IIIA council-chamber.
The DUKE and Senators sitting at a table; Officers attending.
DUKE OF VENICEThere is no composition in these news
That gives them credit.
First SenatorIndeed, they are disproportion’d;
My letters say a hundred and seven galleys.
DUKE OF VENICEAnd mine, a hundred and forty.
Second SenatorAnd mine, two hundred:
But though they jump not on a just account,–
As in these cases, where the aim reports,
‘Tis oft with difference–yet do they all confirm
A Turkish fleet, and bearing up to Cyprus.
DUKE OF VENICENay, it is possible enough to judgment:
I do not so secure me in the error, 10
But the main article I do approve
In fearful sense.
SailorWithin. What, ho! what, ho! what, ho!
First OfficerA messenger from the galleys.
Enter a Sailor.
DUKE OF VENICENow, what’s the business?
SailorThe Turkish preparation makes for Rhodes;
So was I bid report here to the state
By Signior Angelo.
DUKE OF VENICEHow say you by this change?
First SenatorThis cannot be,
By no assay of reason: ’tis a pageant,
To keep us in false gaze. When we consider
The importancy of Cyprus to the Turk, 20
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 warlike 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. 30
DUKE OF VENICENay, in all confidence, he’s not for Rhodes.
First OfficerHere is more news.
Enter a Messenger.
MessengerThe Ottomites, reverend and gracious,
Steering with due course towards the isle of Rhodes,
Have there injointed them with an after fleet.
First SenatorAy, so I thought. How many, as you guess?
MessengerOf thirty sail: and now they do restem
Their backward course, bearing with frank appearance
Their purposes toward Cyprus. Signior Montano,
Your trusty and most valiant servitor, 40
With his free duty recommends you thus,
And prays you to believe him.
DUKE OF VENICE‘Tis certain, then, for Cyprus.
Marcus Luccicos, is not he in town?
First SenatorHe’s now in Florence.
DUKE OF VENICEWrite from us to him; post-post-haste dispatch.
First SenatorHere comes Brabantio and the valiant Moor.
DUKE OF VENICEValiant Othello, we must straight employ you
Against the general enemy Ottoman.
I did not see you; welcome, gentle signior; 50
We lack’d your counsel and your help tonight.
BRABANTIOSo did I yours. Good your grace, pardon me;
Neither my place nor aught I heard of business
Hath raised me from my bed, nor doth the general care
Take hold on 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 OF VENICEWhy, what’s the matter?
BRABANTIOMy daughter! O, my daughter!
DUKE OF VENICE, SenatorDead?
She is abused, stol’n from me, and corrupted 60
By spells and medicines bought of mountebanks;
For nature so preposterously to err,
Being not deficient, blind, or lame of sense,
Sans witchcraft could not.
DUKE OF VENICEWhoe’er he be that in this foul proceeding
Hath thus beguiled your daughter of herself
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.
BRABANTIOHumbly I thank your grace. 70
Here is the man, this Moor, whom now, it seems,
Your special mandate for the state-affairs
Hath hither brought.
DUKE OF VENICE, SenatorWe are very sorry for’t.
BRABANTIONothing, but this is so.
OTHELLOMost potent, grave, and reverend signiors,
My very noble and approved 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 80
Hath this extent, no more. Rude am I in my speech,
And little bless’d with the soft phrase of peace:
For since these arms of mine had seven years’ pith,
Till now some nine moons wasted, they have used
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 patience,
I will a round unvarnish’d tale deliver 90
Of my whole course of love; what drugs, what charms,
What conjuration and what mighty magic,
For such proceeding I am charged withal,
I won his daughter.
BRABANTIOA 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!
It is a judgment maim’d and most imperfect
That will confess perfection so could err 100
Against all rules of nature, and must be driven
To find out practises of cunning hell,
Why this should be. I therefore vouch again
That with some mixtures powerful o’er the blood,
Or with some dram conjured to this effect,
He wrought upon her.
DUKE OF VENICETo vouch this, is no proof,
Without more wider and more overt test
Than these thin habits and poor likelihoods
Of modern seeming do prefer against him.
First SenatorBut, Othello, speak: 110
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?
OTHELLOI 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 OF VENICEFetch Desdemona hither. 120
OTHELLOAncient, conduct them: you best know the place.
Exeunt IAGO and Attendants.
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 OF VENICESay it, Othello.
OTHELLOHer father loved me; oft invited me;
Still question’d me the story of my life,
From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes, 130
That I have passed.
I ran it through, even from my boyish days,
To the very moment that he bade me tell it;
Wherein I spake of most disastrous chances,
Of moving accidents by flood and field
Of hair-breadth scapes i’ the imminent deadly breach,
Of being taken by the insolent foe
And sold to slavery, of my redemption thence
And portance in my travels’ history:
Wherein of antres vast and deserts idle, 140
Rough quarries, rocks and hills whose heads touch heaven
It was my hint to speak,–such was the process;
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’ld come again, and with a greedy ear
Devour up my discourse: which I observing, 150
Took once a pliant hour, and found good means
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 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 strange, 160
‘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: she thank’d me,
And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story.
And that would woo her. Upon this hint I spake:
She loved me for the dangers I had pass’d,
And I loved her that she did pity them.
This only is the witchcraft I have used:
Here comes the lady; let her witness it. 170
Enter DESDEMONA, IAGO, and Attendants.
DUKE OF VENICEI think this tale would win my daughter too.
Good Brabantio,
Take up this mangled matter at the best:
Men do their broken weapons rather use
Than their bare hands.
BRABANTIOI 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?
DESDEMONAMy noble father, 180
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.
BRABANTIOGod be wi’ you! I have done.
Please it your grace, on to the state-affairs: 190
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 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.
DUKE OF VENICELet me speak like yourself, and lay a sentence,
Which, as a grise or step, may help these lovers 200
Into your favour.
When remedies are past, the griefs are ended
By seeing the worst, which late on hopes depended.
To mourn a mischief that is past and gone
Is the next way to draw new mischief on.
What cannot be preserved when fortune takes
Patience her injury a mockery makes.
The robb’d that smiles steals something from the thief;
He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.
BRABANTIOSo let the Turk of Cyprus us beguile; 210
We lose it not, so long as we can smile.
He bears the sentence well that nothing bears
But the free comfort which from thence he hears,
But he bears both the sentence and the sorrow
That, to pay grief, must of poor patience borrow.
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 bruised heart was pierced through the ear.
I humbly beseech you, proceed to the affairs of state. 220
DUKE OF VENICEThe 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
of most allowed sufficiency, yet opinion, a
sovereign mistress of effects, throws a more safer
voice on you: you must therefore be content to
slubber the gloss of your new fortunes with this
more stubborn and boisterous expedition.
OTHELLOThe tyrant custom, most grave senators, 230
Hath made the flinty and steel couch of war
My thrice-driven bed of down: I do agnise
A natural and prompt alacrity
I find in hardness, and do undertake
These present wars against the Ottomites.
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.
DUKE OF VENICEIf you please, 240
Be’t at her father’s.
BRABANTIOI’ll not have it so.
DESDEMONANor I; I would not there reside,
To put my father in impatient thoughts
By being in his eye. Most gracious duke,
To my unfolding lend your prosperous ear;
And let me find a charter in your voice,
To assist my simpleness.
DUKE OF VENICEWhat would You, Desdemona?
DESDEMONAThat I did love the Moor to live with him,
My downright violence and storm of fortunes 250
May trumpet to the world: my heart’s subdued
Even to the very quality of my lord:
I saw Othello’s visage in his mind,
And to his honour and his valiant parts
Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate.
So that, dear lords, if I be left behind,
A moth of peace, and he go to the war,
The rites for which I love him are bereft me,
And I a heavy interim shall support
By his dear absence. Let me go with him. 260
OTHELLOLet her have your voices.
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:
And heaven defend your good souls, that you think
I will your serious and great business scant
For she is with me: no, when light-wing’d toys
Of feather’d Cupid seal with wanton dullness 270
My speculative and officed instruments,
That my disports corrupt and taint my business,
Let housewives make a skillet of my helm,
And all indign and base adversities
Make head against my estimation!
DUKE OF VENICEBe it as you shall privately determine,
Either for her stay or going: the affair cries haste,
And speed must answer it.
First SenatorYou must away to-night.
OTHELLOWith all my heart.
DUKE OF VENICEAt nine i’ the morning here we’ll meet again. 280
Othello, leave some officer behind,
And he shall our commission bring to you;
With such things else of quality and respect
As doth import you.
OTHELLOSo please your grace, my ancient;
A man he is of honest and trust:
To his conveyance I assign my wife,
With what else needful your good grace shall think
To be sent after me.
DUKE OF VENICELet it be so.
Good night to every one.
And, noble signior,
If virtue no delighted beauty lack, 290
Your son-in-law is far more fair than black.
First SenatorAdieu, brave Moor, use Desdemona well.
BRABANTIOLook to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see:
She has deceived her father, and may thee.
Exeunt DUKE OF VENICE, Senators, Officers, &c.
OTHELLOMy life upon her faith! Honest Iago,
My Desdemona must I leave to thee:
I prithee, let thy wife attend on her:
And bring them after in the best advantage.
Come, Desdemona: I have but an hour
Of love, of worldly matters and direction, 300
To spend with thee: we must obey the time.
IAGOWhat say’st thou, noble heart?
RODERIGOWhat will I do, thinkest thou?
IAGOWhy, go to bed, and sleep.
RODERIGOI will incontinently drown myself.
IAGOIf thou dost, I shall never love thee after. Why,
thou silly gentleman!
RODERIGOIt is silliness to live when to live is torment; and
then have we a prescription to die when death is our physician. 310
IAGOO villainous! 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 I would say, I
would drown myself for the love of a guinea-hen, I
would change my humanity with a baboon.
RODERIGOWhat should I do? I confess it is my shame to be so
fond; but it is not in my virtue to amend it. 320
IAGOVirtue! 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 authority of this lies in our
wills. If the balance of our lives had not one 330
scale of reason to poise 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, our unbitted lusts, whereof I take this that
you call love to be a sect or scion.
RODERIGOIt cannot be.
IAGOIt is merely a lust of the blood and a permission of 340
the will. Come, be a man. Drown thyself! drown
cats and blind puppies. I have professed me thy
friend and I confess me knit to thy deserving with
cables of perdurable toughness; I could never
better stead thee than now. Put money in thy
purse; follow thou the wars; defeat thy favour with
an 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, and thou 350
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 360
thou canst: if sanctimony and a frail vow betwixt
an erring barbarian and a supersubtle Venetian 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.
RODERIGOWilt thou be fast to my hopes, if I depend on
the issue? 370
IAGOThou 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; thine hath no
less reason. Let us be conjunctive in our revenge
against him: if thou canst cuckold him, 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. 380
RODERIGOWhere shall we meet i’ the morning?
IAGOAt my lodging.
RODERIGOI’ll be with thee betimes.
IAGOGo to; farewell. Do you hear, Roderigo?
RODERIGOWhat say you?
IAGONo more of drowning, do you hear?
RODERIGOI am changed: I’ll go sell all my land.
IAGOThus do I ever make my fool my purse:
For I mine own gain’d knowledge should profane, 390
If I would time expend with such a snipe.
But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor:
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.
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 400
To be suspected, framed to make women false.
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.

Othello, Act 2, Scene 1


Explanatory Notes for Act 1, 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.


1. Composition, agreement.

5. Jump, tally.

6. Aim reports, conjecture bandies about reports.

10. Secure, Derse (as in se-paro) cura, without care. I do not lay aside anxiety on account of the discrepancy in the accounts.

12. In fearful sense, in feeling fearful,

15. The Turks tried to recover Cyprus (which they had lost a century before) in 1570.

17. By, about.

18. If we put the statement to the test of common sense, we cannot believe it. Pageant, a mock, or show, Der. Latin pagina, page, in later times the scaffold on which mysteries were acted. Root, pag, to fasten.

22-3. Not only is it more important but he can bear (ferre) the business more easily — win the place.

24. It is not so well fortified.

33. Ottomites, derived from Othman, or Osman, founder of the Turkish empire in A.D. 1299.

52. Good your grace. The possessive adjective is really combined with the noun, as inmonsieur.

57. Engluts, French engloutir, to swallow.

61. Mountebank, a quack doctor, one who mounts a bench to puff his wares.

64. Sans, used for without, for metre’s sake. A favorite word with Shakespeare. As You Like It, ii, 7, 166, “Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

69. Proper, own.

80. This is the head and front, and the sum of my offence.

84. Till within the last nine months.

85. All their chief work has been in the field.

94. Some such word as with understood.

95. Every emotion blushed at and revealed itself.

99. A person who could confess. . . is not of sound judgment.

101. The ideas are compressed. An unmaimed judgment must look for . . .

108. Hunter explains thin habits, the thin garb in which you invest the matter.

109. Modern, used contemptuously. Commoplace, trite.

111. Indirect, wrong, unfair.

129. Still, always. Questioned me the story. Omission of preposition of.

131. The hemistich adds to the effect of the enumeration by giving the actor time to think over the list.

139. Portance. (French porter.) My bearing.

140. Antres, caves. Idle, wild.

141. Quarries, Der. quadraria, the place where the blocks are squared.

143. Cannibal, corruption of Caribal, Caribbean.

145. Raleigh gave an account of such men in his Description of Guiana, 1596.

154. By parcels, by small portions.

173. Make the best of a bad business.

176. If she admits that she met him half-way, then I blame him no more.

199. Like yourself, either briefly, or as your case demands. Lay a sentence, pronounce a maxim, which he proceeds to do in rhyming verse, in sententious couplets.

200. Grise, a step.

209. Bootless, useless.

210. So, upon that theory.

213. Free, cheap.

214. Who, to get rid of pressing grief, has to draw upon his stock of patience.

217. These maxims cut both ways.

219. Piercing would not be a remedy for a bruise, so that we must take the word as meaning merely reached.

222. Fortitude, the strength.

225. Opinion that overawes all plans and their results.

227. To slubber, obscure, slur over.

232. I admit that difficulty brings out quickness of action, which is natural to me.

238. Due arrangement as to her home and allowance. Exhibition in this sense still so used at the Universities.

245. Prosperous, propitious.

249. To live. Understand enough.

250. Downright, uncontrolled. For storm the first Quarto has scorne, which Johnson accepted.

260. By. The idea of instrumentality passes into causality — because of.

265. Proper satisfaction, self-gratification.

267. Defend, prevent that you should think.

269. For, because.

270. Seel, to close the eyes. Originally a term of falconry.

271. i.e. my eyes.

272. Disports, amusements.

273. Skillet, small pot. From Latin scutella, a small dish.

274. May my reputation be damaged by all attacks, however base.

290. Delighted, here for delightful, as in Cymbeline, v. 4, 102 — “To make my gift the more delayed, delighted.”

294. Brabantio’s unnatural pique belies his daughter’s chastity. The disobedience in eloping was severely punished, but her subsequent story about the handkerchief was not the deliberate attempt to conceal the truth, and did not really touch the constancy of her heart.

306. Incontinently, immediately.

307. Roderigo, another dupe of Iago’s, differs from Othello in this, that the latter never suspects honest Iago, the former is constantly suspicious that he is being cheated, and is as constantly satisfied, notwithstanding the grossest indications that should have put him on his guard.

313. Iago’s comparative youth is a touch in the picture. So young, yet so utterly unable to believe in the existence of goodness, even in Desdemona, pure as Dian’s visage. “All things are to him common and unclean.” — Gervinus.

321. Fond, foolish. Virtue, power.

322, sq. To Iago reason alone is the measure of things. He is one of those beings whose brains have become sharp with the hardening of their hearts. In this passage he poses as the sceptic who ignores any higher constraint of the passions than that supplied by the reason and the will.

326. Gender, kind.

328. Corrigible, corrective.

334. Sect, cutting.

340. Stead, help.

342. Defeat thy favor, conceal thy face. Cf. Julius Ccesar, i. 2, 91, “As well as I do know your outward favor.”

347. Answerable sequestration, corresponding estrangement.

349. Locusts. (1) A winged insect; (2) the fruit of the carob tree.

350. Coloquintida, colocynth, a bitter yellow gourd.

354. A more delicate way. By committing mortal sin with Desdemona. Iago is here ironical.

The repetition, Put money in thy purse, is equivalent to This is your game. But you must be prepared to pay for it.

395. Proper, fine, pretty.

396. Plume up, make to triumph.

400. Dispose for disposition.


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