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ACT II SCENE IA Sea-port in Cyprus. An open place near the quay.
Enter MONTANO and two Gentlemen.
MONTANOWhat from the cape can you discern at sea?
First GentlemanNothing at all: it is a highwrought flood;
I cannot, ‘twixt the heaven and the main,
Descry a sail.
MONTANOMethinks the wind hath spoke aloud at land;
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?
Second GentlemanA segregation of the Turkish fleet: 10
For do but stand upon the foaming shore,
The chidden billow seems to pelt the clouds;
The wind-shaked surge, with high and monstrous mane,
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.
MONTANOIf that the Turkish fleet
Be not enshelter’d and embay’d, they are drown’d:
It is impossible they bear it out.
Enter a third Gentleman.
Third GentlemanNews, lads! our wars are done. 20
The desperate tempest hath so bang’d the Turks,
That their designment halts: a noble ship of Venice
Hath seen a grievous wreck and sufferance
On most part of their fleet.
MONTANOHow! is this true?
Third GentlemanThe ship is here put in,
A Veronesa; Michael Cassio,
Lieutenant to the warlike Moor Othello,
Is come on shore: the Moor himself at sea,
And is in full commission here for Cyprus.
MONTANOI am glad on’t; ’tis a worthy governor. 30
Third GentlemanBut this same Cassio, though he speak of comfort
Touching the Turkish loss, yet he looks sadly,
And prays the Moor be safe; for they were parted
With foul and violent tempest.
MONTANOPray heavens he be;
For I have served him, and the man commands
Like a full soldier. Let’s to the seaside, ho!
As well to see the vessel that’s come in
As to throw out our eyes for brave Othello,
Even till we make the main and the aerial blue
An indistinct regard.
Third GentlemanCome, let’s do so: 40
For every minute is expectancy
Of more arrivance.
CASSIOThanks, you the valiant of this warlike isle,
That so approve the Moor! O, let the heavens
Give him defence against the elements,
For I have lost us him on a dangerous sea.
MONTANOIs he well shipp’d?
CASSIOHis bark is stoutly timber’d, his pilot
Of very expert and approved allowance;
Therefore my hopes, not surfeited to death, 50
Stand in bold cure.
A cry within: ‘A sail, a sail, a sail!’
Enter a fourth Gentleman.
CASSIOWhat noise?
Fourth GentlemanThe town is empty; on the brow o’ the sea
Stand ranks of people, and they cry ‘A sail!’
CASSIOMy hopes do shape him for the governor.
Guns heard
Second GentlemenThey do discharge their shot of courtesy:
Our friends at least.
CASSIOI pray you, sir, go forth,
And give us truth who ’tis that is arrived.
Second GentlemanI shall.
MONTANOBut, good lieutenant, is your general wived? 60
CASSIOMost fortunately: he hath achieved a maid
That paragons description and wild fame;
One that excels the quirks of blazoning pens,
And in the essential vesture of creation
Does tire the ingener.
Re-enter second Gentleman.
How now! who has put in?
Second Gentleman‘Tis one Iago, ancient to the general.
CASSIOHas had most favourable and happy speed:
Tempests themselves, high seas, and howling winds,
The gutter’d rocks and congregated sands–
Traitors ensteep’d to clog the guiltless keel,– 70
As having sense of beauty, do omit
Their mortal natures, letting go safely by
The divine Desdemona.
MONTANOWhat is she?
CASSIOShe that I spake of, our great captain’s captain,
Left in the conduct of the bold Iago,
Whose footing here anticipates our thoughts
A se’nnight’s speed. Great Jove, Othello guard,
And swell his sail with thine own powerful breath,
That he may bless this bay with his tall ship,
Make love’s quick pants in Desdemona’s arms,
Give renew’d fire to our extincted spirits 80
And bring all Cyprus comfort!
O, behold,
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 thee round!
DESDEMONAI thank you, valiant Cassio.
What tidings can you tell me of my lord?
CASSIOHe is not yet arrived: nor know I aught
But that he’s well and will be shortly here. 90
DESDEMONAO, but I fear–How lost you company?
CASSIOThe great contention of the sea and skies
Parted our fellowship–But, hark! a sail.
Within ‘A sail, a sail!’ [Guns heard within.]
Second GentlemanThey give their greeting to the citadel;
This likewise is a friend.
CASSIOSee for the news.
Exit Gentleman.
Good ancient, you are welcome.
Welcome, mistress.
Let it not gall your patience, good Iago,
That I extend my manners; ’tis my breeding
That gives me this bold show of courtesy. 100
Kissing her
IAGOSir, would she give you so much of her lips
As of her tongue she oft bestows on me,
You’ll have enough.
DESDEMONAAlas, she has no speech.
IAGOIn faith, too much;
I find it still, when I have list to sleep:
Marry, before your ladyship, I grant,
She puts her tongue a little in her heart,
And chides with thinking.
EMILIAYou have little cause to say so.
IAGOCome on, come on; you are pictures out of doors, 110
Bells in your parlors, wild-cats in your kitchens,
Saints m your injuries, devils being offended,
Players in your housewifery, and housewives’ in your beds.
DESDEMONAO, fie upon thee, slanderer!
IAGONay, it is true, or else I am a Turk:
You rise to play and go to bed to work.
EMILIAYou shall not write my praise.
IAGONo, let me not.
DESDEMONAWhat wouldst thou write of me, if thou shouldst
praise me?
IAGOO gentle lady, do not put me to’t;
For I am nothing, if not critical. 120
DESDEMONACome on assay. There’s one gone to the harbour?
IAGOAy, madam.
DESDEMONAI am not merry; but I do beguile
The thing I am, by seeming otherwise.
Come, how wouldst thou praise me?
IAGOI am about it; but indeed my invention
Comes from my pate as birdlime does from frize;
It plucks out brains and all: but my Muse labours,
And thus she is deliver’d.
If she be fair and wise, fairness and wit, 130
The one’s for use, the other useth it.
DESDEMONAWell praised! How if she be black and witty?
IAGOIf she be black, and thereto have a wit,
She’ll find a white that shall her blackness fit.
DESDEMONAWorse and worse.
EMILIAHow if fair and foolish?
IAGOShe never yet was foolish that was fair;
For even her folly help’d her to an heir.
DESDEMONAThese are old fond paradoxes to make fools laugh i’
the alehouse. What miserable praise hast thou for
her that’s foul and foolish? 140
IAGOThere’s none so foul and foolish thereunto,
But does foul pranks which fair and wise ones do.
DESDEMONAO heavy ignorance! thou praisest the worst 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 itself?
IAGOShe that was ever fair and never proud,
Had tongue at will and yet was never loud, 150
Never lack’d gold and yet went never gay,
Fled from her wish and yet said ‘Now I may,’
She that being anger’d, her revenge being nigh,
Bade her wrong stay and her displeasure fly,
She that in wisdom never was so frail
To change the cod’s head for the salmon’s tail;
She that could think and ne’er disclose her mind,
See suitors following and not look behind,
She was a wight, if ever such wight were,–
DESDEMONATo do what? 160
IAGOTo suckle fools and chronicle small beer.
DESDEMONAO 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
CASSIOHe speaks home, madam: You may relish him more in
the soldier than in the scholar.
IAGOAside He takes her by the palm; ay, well said,
whisper: with as little a web as this will I 170
ensnare as great a fly as Cassio. Ay, smile upon
her, do; I will gyve thee in thine own courtship.
You say true; ’tis so, indeed: if such tricks as
these strip you out of your lieutenantry, it had
been better you had not kissed your three fingers so
oft, 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? would they were clyster-pipes for your sake!
Trumpet within.
The Moor! I know his trumpet. 180
CASSIO‘Tis truly so.
DESDEMONALet’s meet him and receive him.
CASSIOLo, where he comes!
Enter OTHELLO and Attendants.
OTHELLOO my fair warrior!
DESDEMONAMy dear Othello!
OTHELLOIt gives me wonder great as my content
To see you here before me. O my soul’s joy!
If after every tempest come such calms,
May the winds blow till they have waken’d death!
And let the labouring bark climb hills of seas
Olympus-high and duck again as low 190
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.
DESDEMONAThe heavens forbid
But that our loves and comforts should increase,
Even as our days do grow!
OTHELLOAmen 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 200
[Kissing her.]
That e’er our hearts shall make!
IAGO[Aside] Oh, you are well-tun’d now!
But I’ll set down the pegs that make this music,
As honest as I am.
OTHELLOCome, let us to the castle.
News, friends; our wars are done, the Turks
are drown’d.
How does my old acquaintance of this isle?
Honey, you shall be well desired in Cyprus;
I have found great love amongst them. O my sweet,
I prattle out of fashion, and I dote 210
In mine own comforts. I prithee, good Iago,
Go to the bay and disembark my coffers:
Bring thou the master to the citadel;
He is a good one, and his worthiness
Does challenge much respect. Come, Desdemona,
Once more, well met at Cyprus.
Exeunt OTHELLO, DESDEMONA, and Attendants.
IAGODo thou meet me presently at the harbour. Come
hither. If thou be’st valiant,– as, they say, base
men being in love have then a nobility in their
natures more than is native to them–list me. The
lieutenant tonight watches on the court of 220
guard:–first, I must tell thee this–Desdemona is
directly in love with him.
RODERIGOWith him! why, ’tis not possible.
IAGOLay thy finger thus, and let thy soul be instructed.
Mark me with what violence she first loved the Moor,
but for bragging and telling her fantastical lies:
and will she love him still for prating? let not
thy discreet heart think it. Her eye must be fed;
and what delight shall she have to look on the
devil? When the blood is made dull with the act of 230
sport, there should be, again to inflame it and to
give satiety a fresh appetite, loveliness in favour,
sympathy in years, manners and beauties; 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,
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–who stands so
eminent in the degree of this fortune as Cassio 240
does? a knave very voluble; no further
conscionable than in putting on the mere form of
civil and humane seeming, for the better compassing
of his salt and most hidden loose affection? why,
none; why, none: a slipper and subtle knave, a
finder of occasions, that has an eye can stamp and
counterfeit advantages, 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 minds look 250
after: a pestilent complete knave; and the woman
hath found him already.
RODERIGOI cannot believe that in her; she’s full of
most blessed condition.
IAGOBlessed fig’s-end! the wine she drinks is made of
grapes: if she had been blessed, she would never
have loved the Moor. Blessed pudding! Didst thou
not see her paddle with the palm of his hand? didst
not mark that? 260
RODERIGOYes, that I did; but that was but courtesy.
IAGOLechery, by this hand; an index and obscure prologue
to the history of lust and foul thoughts. They met
so near with their lips that their breaths embraced
together. Villanous thoughts, Roderigo! when these
mutualities so marshal the way, hard at hand comes
the master and main exercise, the incorporate
conclusion, 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 270
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; or from what
other course you please, which the time shall more
favourably minister.
IAGOSir, he is rash and very sudden in choler, and haply
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 280
taste again but by the displanting of Cassio. So
shall you have a shorter journey to your desires by
the means I shall then have to prefer them; and the
impediment most profitably removed, without the
which there were no expectation of our prosperity.
RODERIGOI will do this, if I can bring it to any
opportunity. 290
IAGOI warrant thee. Meet me by and by at the citadel:
I must fetch his necessaries ashore. Farewell.
IAGOThat Cassio loves her, I do well believe it;
That she loves him, ’tis apt and of great credit:
The Moor, howbeit that I endure him not,
Is of a constant, loving, noble nature,
And I dare think he’ll prove to Desdemona
A most dear husband. Now, I do love her too; 300
Not out of absolute lust, though peradventure
I stand accountant for as great a sin,
But partly led to diet my revenge,
For that I do suspect the lusty Moor
Hath leap’d into my seat; the thought whereof
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 310
That judgment cannot cure. Which thing to do,
If this poor trash of Venice, whom I trash
For his quick hunting, stand the putting on,
I’ll have our Michael Cassio on the hip,
Abuse him to the Moor in the rank garb–
For I fear Cassio with my night-cap too–
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 confused: 320
Knavery’s plain face is never seen tin used.

Othello, Act 2, Scene 2


Explanatory Notes for Act 2, 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.


3. ‘Twixt the heaven and the main, on the horizon.

9. Mortise, a hole in a piece of wood to receive the tenon in carpentry.

12. Chidden, and so, angry.

13. Shaked, the old infinitive being shaken, Elizabethan writers frequently used the form ofed for the participle.

15. Molestation, disturbance.

17,18. Enchaf’d, enshelter’d, embay’dEn was a favorite prefix with Shakespeare, especially in this play. We shall find also encave, enwheel, enfetter’d, enmesh. Perhaps with participles he likes some kind of prefix as a substitute for the old prefix.

22. Their plan is foiled.

23. Sufferance, damage, loss.

26. A ship equipped by the inland city of Verona.

41. We may expect fresh arrivals any moment.

50. Not in danger from being overloaded with fear.

62. Paragons, a Spanish word formed by two prepositions— paracon — outdoes.

63. Quirks, tricks.

64. 65. In her natural beauty baffles the clever person who would describe her. Ingener, contriver. Hamlet (iii. 4, 206), “The ingener hoist with his own petard.”

67. He has was often pronounced and written has.

69. Gutter’d, worn into channels.

70. Who conspire to delay.

71. From a mere love of beauty.

72. Mortal, here deadly, fatal.

76. Who lands here a week sooner than we expected.

79. Tall, a stock epithet for ships. Merchant of Venice I, 6: “The carcases of many a tall ship lie buried.”

82. Riches, may be for richesse, a singular noun.

97. He explains to Iago that it would be hyper-modesty if he merely gave her a formal greeting.

105. When I wish to sleep.

115. I will not come to you for a character or an epitaph.

123. I beguile my sadness by appearing merry.

126. I am working at it.

127. Birdlime, a glutinous substance. Frize, or frieze, cloth of Friesland, from which, being rough, it was difficult to remove stains without tearing away the nap.

130, 131. The clever woman finds a means to make use of her charms.

133. Thereto, besides. Black, a brunette.

143. A plain woman is as dangerous as any other.

148. Put on the vouch, dare venture to call upon malice itself to vouch for her. S. T. Coleridge remarked that Shakespeare puts all sarcasms upon women into the mouth of villains.

156. By the despised salmon’s tail he means Othello, whom she had chosen in preference to the wealthy, curled darlings of Venice.

161. His bathos means, she is only fit to have silly children, and keep the tally at a beer-house.

165. Liberal, wanton. Profane, gross.

171. Gyve, etc., fetter thee in thy courtesies.

185. I am as delighted as surprised.

194. There cannot be much more such happiness in store for me.

203. The pegs on which the strings of the instrument are strained, and so loosen the strings and cause discords.

206. Desir’d, loved.

208. Out of fashion, more than good breeding allows.

221. Directly, manifestly, unmistakably.

223. Lay thy finger thus, on thy lips.

229. Favor, face.

230. Sympathy in years. Perhaps here, as in Midsummer Nigkfs Dream, 1. i, 137, Shakespeare is thinking of his own marriage.

236. Pregnant, evident, clear. Position, assertion, capable of being defended.

240. Salt, wanton.

241. Slipper, slippery.

242. Stamp, make valid and current.

249. Condition, temper.

283. Qualification, they will be appeased only by the dismissal of Cassio.

288. Without the which, the removal of which.

296. Apt, natural,

312. Trash, drift-wood found under trees. Perhaps both are hunters’ words.

313. Putting on, instigation.

314. To have at an advantage. Cf. “Now, infidel, I have you on the hip.” — Merchant of Venice, iv. i, 334.

315. Garb, form, manner.

321. Evil plans are developed as they proceed.


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