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ACT IV SCENE I Cyprus. Before the castle.
IAGO Will you think so?
OTHELLO Think so, Iago!
IAGO What,
To kiss in private?  5
OTHELLO An unauthorized kiss.
IAGO Or to be naked with her friend in bed
An hour or more, not meaning any harm?
OTHELLO Naked 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.
IAGO So they do nothing, ’tis a venial slip:
But if I give my wife a handkerchief,–
OTHELLO What then?  15
IAGO Why, then, ’tis hers, my lord; and, being hers,
She may, I think, bestow’t on any man.
OTHELLO She is protectress of her honour too:
May she give that?
IAGO Her honour is an essence that’s not seen;  20
They have it very oft that have it not:
But, for the handkerchief,–
OTHELLO By 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.
IAGO Ay, what of that?
OTHELLO That’s not so good now.
IAGO What,
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
OTHELLO Hath he said any thing?
IAGO He hath, my lord; but be you well assured,
No more than he’ll unswear.
OTHELLO What hath he said?
IAGO ‘Faith, that he did–I know not what he did.  40
OTHELLO What? what?
OTHELLO With her?
IAGO With her, on her; what you will.
OTHELLO Lie 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.
IAGO Work 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!
CASSIO What’s the matter?  60
IAGO My lord is fall’n into an epilepsy:
This is his second fit; he had one yesterday.
CASSIO Rub him about the temples.
IAGO No, 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?
OTHELLO Dost thou mock me?
IAGO I mock you! no, by heaven.
Would you would bear your fortune like a man!
OTHELLO A horned man’s a monster and a beast.  75
IAGO There’s many a beast then in a populous city,
And many a civil monster.
OTHELLO Did he confess it?
IAGO Good 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.
OTHELLO O, thou art wise; ’tis certain.
IAGO Stand 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.
OTHELLO Dost thou hear, Iago?  105
I will be found most cunning in my patience;
But–dost thou hear?–most bloody.
IAGO That’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
CASSIO The worser that you give me the addition
Whose want even kills me.
IAGO Ply 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
CASSIO Alas, poor caitiff!
OTHELLO Look, how he laughs already!
IAGO I never knew woman love man so.
CASSIO Alas, poor rogue! I think, i’ faith, she loves me.
OTHELLO Now he denies it faintly, and laughs it out.  130
IAGO Do you hear, Cassio?
OTHELLO Now he importunes him
To tell it o’er: go to; well said, well said.
IAGO She gives it out that you shall marry hey:
Do you intend it?  135
CASSIO Ha, ha, ha!
OTHELLO Do you triumph, Roman? do you triumph?
CASSIO I marry her! what? a customer! Prithee, bear some
charity to my wit: do not think it so unwholesome.
Ha, ha, ha!  140
OTHELLO So, so, so, so: they laugh that win.
IAGO ‘Faith, the cry goes that you shall marry her.
CASSIO Prithee, say true.
IAGO I am a very villain else.
OTHELLO Have you scored me? Well.  145
CASSIO This 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.
OTHELLO Iago beckons me; now he begins the story.
CASSIO She 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–
OTHELLO Crying ‘O dear Cassio!’ as it were: his gesture
imports it.  155
CASSIO So hangs, and lolls, and weeps upon me; so hales,
and pulls me: ha, ha, ha!
OTHELLO Now 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
CASSIO Well, I must leave her company.
IAGO Before me! look, where she comes.
CASSIO ‘Tis such another fitchew! marry a perfumed one.
What do you mean by this haunting of me?
BIANCA Let 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.
CASSIO How now, my sweet Bianca! how now! how now!
OTHELLO By heaven, that should be my handkerchief!
BIANCA An you’ll come to supper to-night, you may; an you  175
will not, come when you are next prepared for.
IAGO After her, after her.
CASSIO ‘Faith, I must; she’ll rail in the street else.
IAGO Will you sup there?
CASSIO ‘Faith, I intend so.  180
IAGO Well, I may chance to see you; for I would very fain
speak with you.
CASSIO Prithee, come; will you?
IAGO Go to; say no more.
OTHELLO Advancing
IAGO Did you perceive how he laughed at his vice?  185
IAGO And did you see the handkerchief?
OTHELLO Was that mine?
IAGO Yours 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.
OTHELLO I would have him nine years a-killing.
A fine woman! a fair woman! a sweet woman!
IAGO Nay, you must forget that.
OTHELLO Ay, 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.
IAGO Nay, that’s not your way.  200
OTHELLO Hang 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:–
IAGO She’s the worse for all this.  205
OTHELLO O, a thousand thousand times: and then, of so
gentle a condition!
IAGO Ay, too gentle.
OTHELLO Nay, that’s certain: but yet the pity of it, Iago!
O Iago, the pity of it, Iago!  210
IAGO If you are so fond over her iniquity, give her
patent to offend; for, if it touch not you, it comes
near nobody.
OTHELLO I will chop her into messes: cuckold me!
IAGO O, ’tis foul in her.  215
OTHELLO With mine officer!
IAGO That’s fouler.
OTHELLO Get 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
IAGO Do it not with poison, strangle her in her bed, even
the bed she hath contaminated.
OTHELLO Good, good: the justice of it pleases: very good.
IAGO And for Cassio, let me be his undertaker: you
shall hear more by midnight.  225
OTHELLO Excellent good.
A trumpet within.
What trumpet is that same?
IAGO Something from Venice, sure. ‘Tis Lodovico
Come from the duke: and, see, your wife is with him.
Enter LODOVICO, DESDEMONA, and Attendants.
LODOVICO Save you, worthy general!  230
OTHELLO With all my heart, sir.
LODOVICO The duke and senators of Venice greet you.
Gives him a letter
OTHELLO I kiss the instrument of their pleasures.
Opens the letter, and reads.
DESDEMONA And what’s the news, good cousin Lodovico?
IAGO I am very glad to see you, signior  235
Welcome to Cyprus.
LODOVICO I thank you. How does Lieutenant Cassio?
IAGO Lives, sir.
DESDEMONA Cousin, there’s fall’n between him and my lord
An unkind breach: but you shall make all well.  240
OTHELLO Are you sure of that?
OTHELLO Reads. “That fail you not to do, as you will–“
LODOVICO He did not call; he’s busy in the paper.
Is there division ‘twixt my lord and Cassio?
DESDEMONA A most unhappy one: I would do much  245
To atone them, for the love I bear to Cassio.
OTHELLO Fire and brimstone!
OTHELLO Are you wise?
DESDEMONA What, is he angry?  250
LODOVICO May be the letter moved him;
For, as I think, they do command him home,
Deputing Cassio in his government.
DESDEMONA Trust me, I am glad on’t.
OTHELLO Indeed!  255
OTHELLO I am glad to see you mad.
DESDEMONA Why, sweet Othello,–
OTHELLO Striking her.
DESDEMONA I have not deserved this.
LODOVICO My lord, this would not be believed in Venice,  260
Though I should swear I saw’t: ’tis very much:
Make her amends; she weeps.
OTHELLO O 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!
DESDEMONA I will not stay to offend you.
LODOVICO Truly, an obedient lady:
I do beseech your lordship, call her back.
OTHELLO Mistress!  270
OTHELLO What would you with her, sir?
LODOVICO Who, I, my lord?
OTHELLO Ay; 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
LODOVICO Is 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
IAGO He is much changed.
LODOVICO Are his wits safe? is he not light of brain?
IAGO He’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
LODOVICO What, strike his wife!
IAGO ‘Faith, that was not so well; yet would I knew
That stroke would prove the worst!
LODOVICO Is it his use?
Or did the letters work upon his blood,  300
And new-create this fault?
IAGO Alas, 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.
LODOVICO I 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.