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ACT II SCENE IIIA hall in the castle.
Enter OTHELLO, DESDEMONA, CASSIO, and Attendants.
OTHELLOGood Michael, look you to the guard to-night:
Let’s teach ourselves that honourable stop,
Not to outsport discretion.
CASSIOIago hath direction what to do; 5
But, notwithstanding, with my personal eye
Will I look to’t.
OTHELLOIago is most honest.
Michael, good night: to-morrow with your earliest
Let me have speech with you. 10
Come, my dear love,
The purchase made, the fruits are to ensue;
That profit’s yet to come ‘tween me and you.
Good night.
Exeunt OTHELLO, DESDEMONA, and Attendants.
Enter IAGO.
CASSIOWelcome, Iago; we must to the watch. 15
IAGONot this hour, lieutenant; ’tis not yet ten o’ the
clock. Our general cast 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. 20
CASSIOShe’s a most exquisite lady.
IAGOAnd, I’ll warrant her, fun of game.
CASSIOIndeed, she’s a most fresh and delicate creature.
IAGOWhat an eye she has! methinks it sounds a parley of
provocation. 25
CASSIOAn inviting eye; and yet methinks right modest.
IAGOAnd when she speaks, is it not an alarum to love?
CASSIOShe is indeed perfection.
IAGOWell, happiness to their sheets! Come, lieutenant, I
have a stoup of wine; and here without are a brace 30
of Cyprus gallants that would fain have a measure to
the health of black Othello.
CASSIONot to-night, good Iago: I have very poor and
unhappy brains for drinking: I could well wish
courtesy would invent some other custom of 35
IAGOO, they are our friends; but one cup! I’ll drink for
CASSIOI have drunk but one cup to-night, and that was
craftily qualified too, and, behold, what innovation 40
it makes here: I am unfortunate in the infirmity,
and dare not task my weakness with any more.
IAGOWhat, man! ’tis a night of revels: the gallants
desire it.
CASSIOWhere are they? 45
IAGOHere at the door; I pray you, call them in.
CASSIOI’ll do’t; but it dislikes me.
IAGOIf I can fasten but one cup upon him,
With that which he hath drunk to-night already,
He’ll be as full of quarrel and offence 50
As my young mistress’ dog. Now, my sick fool Roderigo,
Whom love hath turn’d almost the wrong side out,
To Desdemona hath to-night caroused
Potations pottle-deep; and he’s to watch:
Three lads of Cyprus, noble swelling spirits, 55
That hold their honours in a wary distance,
The very elements of this warlike isle,
Have I to-night fluster’d with flowing cups,
And they watch too. Now, ‘mongst this flock of drunkards,
Am I to put our Cassio in some action 60
That may offend the isle.–But here they come:
If consequence do but approve my dream,
My boat sails freely, both with wind and stream.
Re-enter CASSIO; with him MONTANO and Gentlemen; servants following with wine.
CASSIO‘Fore God, they have given me a rouse already.
MONTANOGood faith, a little one; not past a pint, as I am 65
a soldier.
IAGOSome wine, ho!
And let me the canakin clink, clink;
And let me the canakin clink
A soldier’s a man; 70
A life’s but a span;
Why, then, let a soldier drink.
Some wine, boys!
CASSIO‘Fore God, an excellent song.
IAGOI learned it in England, where, indeed, they are 75
most potent in potting: your Dane, your German, and
your swag-bellied Hollander–Drink, ho!–are nothing
to your English.
CASSIOIs your Englishman so expert in his drinking?
IAGOWhy, he drinks you, with facility, your Dane dead 80
drunk; he sweats not to overthrow your Almain; he
gives your Hollander a vomit, ere the next pottle
can be filled.
CASSIOTo the health of our general!
MONTANOI am for it, lieutenant; and I’ll do you justice. 85
IAGOO sweet England!
King Stephen was a worthy peer,
His breeches cost him but a crown;
He held them sixpence all too dear,
With that he call’d the tailor lown. 90
He was a wight of high renown,
And thou art but of low degree:
‘Tis pride that pulls the country down;
Then take thine auld cloak about thee.
Some wine, ho! 95
CASSIOWhy, this is a more exquisite song than the other.
IAGOWill you hear’t again?
CASSIONo; 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. 100
IAGOIt’s true, good lieutenant.
CASSIOFor mine own part,–no offence to the general, nor
any man of quality,–I hope to be saved.
IAGOAnd so do I too, lieutenant.
CASSIOAy, but, by your leave, not before me; the 105
lieutenant is to be saved before the ancient. Let’s
have no more of this; let’s to our affairs.–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: 110
I am not drunk now; I can stand well enough, and
speak well enough.
AllExcellent well.
CASSIOWhy, very well then; you must not think then that I am drunk.
MONTANOTo the platform, masters; come, let’s set the watch. 115
IAGOYou see this fellow that is gone before;
He is a soldier fit to stand by Caesar
And give direction: and do but see his vice;
‘Tis to his virtue a just equinox,
The one as long as the other: ’tis pity of him. 120
I fear the trust Othello puts him in.
On some odd time of his infirmity,
Will shake this island.
MONTANOBut is he often thus?
IAGO‘Tis evermore the prologue to his sleep: 125
He’ll watch the horologe a double set,
If drink rock not his cradle.
MONTANOIt were well
The general were put in mind of it.
Perhaps he sees it not; or his good nature 130
Prizes the virtue that appears in Cassio,
And looks not on his evils: is not this true?
IAGOAside to him
I pray you, after the lieutenant; go.
MONTANOAnd ’tis great pity that the noble Moor
Should hazard such a place as his own second 135
With one of an ingraft infirmity:
It were an honest action to say
So to the Moor.
IAGONot I, for this fair island:
I do love Cassio well; and would do much 140
To cure him of this evil–But, hark! what noise?
Cry within: ‘Help! help!’
Re-enter CASSIO, driving in RODERIGO.
CASSIOYou rogue! you rascal!
MONTANOWhat’s the matter, lieutenant?
CASSIOA knave teach me my duty!
I’ll beat the knave into a twiggen bottle. 145
CASSIODost thou prate, rogue?
Striking RODERIGO.
MONTANONay, good lieutenant;
Staying him
I pray you, sir, hold your hand.
CASSIOLet me go, sir, 150
Or I’ll knock you o’er the mazzard.
MONTANOCome, come,
you’re drunk.
They fight.
IAGO[Aside to RODERIGO] Away, I say; go out, and cry a mutiny.
Nay, good lieutenant,–alas, gentlemen;– 155
Help, ho!–Lieutenant,–sir,–Montano,–sir;
Help, masters!–Here’s a goodly watch indeed!
Bell rings.
Who’s that which rings the bell?–Diablo, ho!
The town will rise: God’s will, lieutenant, hold!
You will be shamed for ever. 160
Re-enter OTHELLO and Attendants.
OTHELLOWhat is the matter here?
MONTANO‘Zounds, I bleed still; I am hurt to the death.
OTHELLOHold, for your lives!
IAGOHold, ho! Lieutenant,–sir–Montano,–gentlemen,–
Have you forgot all sense of place and duty? 165
Hold! the general speaks to you; hold, hold, for shame!
OTHELLOWhy, how now, ho! from whence ariseth this?
Are we turn’d Turks, and to ourselves do that
Which heaven hath forbid the Ottomites?
For Christian shame, put by this barbarous brawl: 170
He that stirs next to carve for his own rage
Holds his soul light; he dies upon his motion.
Silence that dreadful bell: it frights the isle
From her propriety. What is the matter, masters?
Honest Iago, that look’st dead with grieving, 175
Speak, who began this? on thy love, I charge thee.
IAGOI do not know: friends all but now, even now,
In quarter, and in terms like bride and groom
Devesting them for bed; and then, but now–
As if some planet had unwitted men– 180
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! 185
OTHELLOHow comes it, Michael, you are thus forgot?
CASSIOI pray you, pardon me; I cannot speak.
OTHELLOWorthy Montano, you were wont be civil;
The gravity and stillness of your youth
The world hath noted, and your name is great 190
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.
MONTANOWorthy Othello, I am hurt to danger: 195
Your officer, Iago, can inform you,–
While I spare speech, which something now
offends me,–
Of all that I do know: nor know I aught
By me that’s said or done amiss this night; 200
Unless self-charity be sometimes a vice,
And to defend ourselves it be a sin
When violence assails us.
OTHELLONow, by heaven,
My blood begins my safer guides to rule; 205
And passion, having my best judgment collied,
Assays to lead the way: if I once stir,
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; 210
And he that is approved in this offence,
Though he had twinn’d with me, both at a birth,
Shall lose me. What! in a town of war,
Yet wild, the people’s hearts brimful of fear,
To manage private and domestic quarrel, 215
In night, and on the court and guard of safety!
‘Tis monstrous. Iago, who began’t?
MONTANOIf partially affined, or leagued in office,
Thou dost deliver more or less than truth,
Thou art no soldier. 220
IAGOTouch 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, to speak the truth
Shall nothing wrong him. Thus it is, general. 225
Montano and myself being in speech,
There comes a fellow crying out for help:
And Cassio following him with determined sword,
To execute upon him. Sir, this gentleman
Steps in to Cassio, and entreats his pause: 230
Myself the crying fellow did pursue,
Lest by his clamour–as it so fell out–
The town might fall in fright: he, swift of foot,
Outran my purpose; and I return’d the rather
For that I heard the clink and fall of swords, 235
And Cassio high in oath; 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. 240
More of this matter cannot I 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, received 245
From him that fled some strange indignity,
Which patience could not pass.
OTHELLOI know, Iago,
Thy honesty and love doth mince this matter,
Making it light to Cassio. Cassio, I love thee 250
But never more be officer of mine.
Re-enter DESDEMONA, attended.
Look, if my gentle love be not raised up!
I’ll make thee an example.
DESDEMONAWhat’s the matter?
OTHELLOAll’s well now, sweeting; come away to bed. 255
Sir, for your hurts, myself will be your surgeon:
Lead him off.
To MONTANO, who is led off.
Iago, look with care about the town,
And silence those whom this vile brawl distracted.
Come, Desdemona: ’tis the soldiers’ life 260
To have their balmy slumbers waked with strife.
Exeunt all but IAGO and CASSIO.
IAGOWhat, are you hurt, lieutenant?
CASSIOAy, past all surgery.
IAGOMarry, heaven forbid!
CASSIOReputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost 265
my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of
myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation,
Iago, my reputation!
IAGOAs I am an honest man, I thought you had received
some bodily wound; there is more sense in that than 270
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 275
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’s yours.
CASSIOI will rather sue to be despised than to deceive so 280
good a commander with so slight, so drunken, and so
indiscreet an officer. Drunk? and speak parrot?
and squabble? swagger? swear? and discourse
fustian with one’s own shadow? O thou invisible
spirit of wine, if thou hast no name to be known by, 285
let us call thee devil!
IAGOWhat was he that you followed with your sword? What
had he done to you?
CASSIOI know not.
IAGOIs’t possible? 290
CASSIOI remember a mass of things, but nothing distinctly;
a quarrel, but nothing wherefore. 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 beasts! 295
IAGOWhy, but you are now well enough: how came you thus
CASSIOIt hath pleased the devil drunkenness to give place
to the devil wrath; one unperfectness shows me
another, to make me frankly despise myself. 300
IAGOCome, you are too severe a moraler: 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 own good.
CASSIOI will ask him for my place again; he shall tell me 305
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 cup is
unblessed and the ingredient is a devil. 310
IAGOCome, 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.
CASSIOI have well approved it, sir. I drunk!
IAGOYou or any man living may be drunk! at a time, man. 315
I’ll tell you what you shall do. Our general’s wife
is now the general: 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: confess yourself freely to her; importune 320
her help to put you in your place again: she is of
so free, so kind, so apt, so blessed a disposition,
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; and, my 325
fortunes against any lay worth naming, this
crack of your love shall grow stronger than it was before.
CASSIOYou advise me well.
IAGOI protest, in the sincerity of love and honest kindness.
CASSIOI think it freely; and betimes in the morning I will 330
beseech the virtuous Desdemona to undertake for me:
I am desperate of my fortunes if they cheque me here.
IAGOYou are in the right. Good night, lieutenant; I
must to the watch.
CASSIOGood night, honest Iago.
IAGOAnd what’s he then that says I play the villain? 335
When this advice is free I give and honest,
Probal to thinking and indeed the course
To win the Moor again? For ’tis most easy
The inclining Desdemona to subdue
In any honest suit: she’s framed as fruitful 340
As the free elements. And then for her
To win the Moor–were’t to renounce his baptism,
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, 345
Even as her appetite shall play the god
With his weak function. How am I then a villain
To counsel Cassio to this parallel course,
Directly to his good? Divinity of hell!
When devils will the blackest sins put on, 350
They do suggest at first with heavenly shows,
As I do now: for whiles this honest fool
Plies Desdemona to repair his fortunes
And she for him pleads strongly to the Moor,
I’ll pour this pestilence into his ear, 355
That she repeals him for her body’s lust;
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,
And out of her own goodness make the net 360
That shall enmesh them all.
Re-enter RODERIGO.
How now, Roderigo!
RODERIGOI 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 365
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.
IAGOHow poor are they that have not patience!
What wound did ever heal but by degrees? 370
Thou know’st we work by wit, and not by witchcraft;
And wit depends on dilatory time.
Does’t not go well? Cassio hath beaten thee.
And thou, by that small hurt, hast cashier’d Cassio:
Though other things grow fair against the sun, 375
Yet fruits that blossom first will first be ripe:
Content thyself awhile. By the mass, ’tis morning;
Pleasure and action make the hours seem short.
Retire thee; go where thou art billeted:
Away, I say; thou shalt know more hereafter: 380
Nay, get thee gone.
Two things are to be done:
My wife must move for Cassio to her mistress;
I’ll set her on;
Myself the while to draw the Moor apart, 385
And bring him jump when he may Cassio find
Soliciting his wife: ay, that’s the way
Dull not device by coldness and delay.

Othello, Act 3, Scene 1


Explanatory Notes for Act 2, 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.


39. The one cup which I have had though cleverly mixed, has upset my weak head.

47. Dislike and like were usually impersonal as synonymous with please. Cf. “The music likes you not.” — Two Gentlemen of Verona, iv. 2, 56.

54. Pottle, diminutive of pot.

56. Are always on guard where their honor is concerned.

57. Elements. As it were, a pure extract or quintessence.

64. Rouse, occurs also thrice in Hamlet, a play of the same period, but not elsewhere. It is a Scandinavian word meaning a drinking-bout.

76. Potent in potting, heavy drinkers.

81. He sweats not, it is no great matter to him.

81. Almain, German.

86. The mention of England suggests the second song which is an old ballad to be found in Percy’s Keliques (published 1765).

90. Lown, loon. Originally lowm. Perhaps connected with a Scotch word loamy, slow.

98. Cassio is already incoherent.

110. A British soldier is not considered drunk if he can go through his facings.

122. Odd, occasional, incidental.

126. He will keep awake twenty-four hours.

135. Should run such risks by having such a man for his second-in-command.

136. Ingraft, the omission of the ed is common in verbs whose terminations already resemble participles; eg. also hoist, disjoint, heat.

145. Twiggen, covered with straw network.

151. Mazzard, a contemptuous word for head, or possibly jaw.

172. I will kill instantly anyone who strikes a blow in his own quarrel.

178. Quarter, peace. Possibly quarter refers to the apartment assigned to the officers on guard.

186. You are thus forgot, have thus forgotten yourself.

188. Some verbs claim exemption from the use of to, on the ground of being auxiliary.

191. Censure was a colorless word meaning opinion, in Elizabethan times.

193. Opinion, reputation.

197. While I avoid speaking, which is now painful.

206. Collied, obscured.

209. In my rebuke, in receiving it.

215. Manage. Literally to handle, wield.

218. Affin’d, related.

220. Do not so press me.

270. Sense of pain.

278. He punishes more to appease the islanders than because he is angry.

278. Affright does not suit the comparison. Cassio is the dog, the natives are meant by the lion; he beats the former to appease the latter.

284. Fustian, another stuff named from the place of manufacture— Fustat, an old name of Cairo.

332. I despair of.

337. Probal, a contraction of probable.

339. She could win the Moor over to anything.

343. The cross.

347. Function, operation of reason. Iago, solus, feels the sting of conscience, but very readily settles matters with it — for the moment.

348. Parallel, level, or even, with his design.

351. Suggest, to tempt.

364. Cry, pack, where the part is a secondary one,


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