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  • Title: Othello (Modern)
  • Editor: Jessica Slights
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-466-0

    Copyright Internet Shakespeare Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-proift purposes; for all other uses contact the Coordinating Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Jessica Slights
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Othello (Modern)

    Enter Desdemona, Cassio, and Emilia.
    1590Desdemona Be thou assured, good Cassio, I will do
    All my abilities in thy behalf.
    Emilia Good madam, do. I warrant it grieves my husband
    As if the cause were his.
    1595Desdemona Oh, that's an honest fellow. Do not doubt, Cassio,
    But I will have my lord and you again
    As friendly as you were.
    Bounteous madam,
    Whatever shall become of Michael Cassio,
    1600He's never anything but your true servant.
    Desdemona I know't. I thank you. You do love my lord;
    You have known him long, and be you well assured
    He shall in strangeness stand no farther off
    Than in a politic distance.
    Ay, but, lady,
    That policy may either last so long,
    Or feed upon such nice and waterish diet,
    Or breed itself so out of circumstances
    That I being absent and my place supplied,
    1610My general will forget my love and service.
    Desdemona Do not doubt that. Before Emilia here,
    I give thee warrant of thy place. Assure thee,
    If I do vow a friendship, I'll perform it
    To the last article. My lord shall never rest:
    1615I'll watch him tame and talk him out of patience;
    His bed shall seem a school, his board a shrift;
    I'll intermingle everything he does
    With Cassio's suit. Therefore be merry, Cassio,
    For thy solicitor shall rather die
    1620Than give thy cause away.
    Enter Othello and Iago.
    Madam, here comes my lord.
    Madam, I'll take my leave.
    Why stay, and hear me speak.
    1625Cassio Madam, not now. I am very ill at ease,
    Unfit for mine own purposes.
    Desdemona Well, do your discretion.
    Exit Cassio.
    Ha? I like not that.
    What dost thou say?
    1630Iago Nothing, my lord; or if--I know not what.
    Othello Was not that Cassio parted from my wife?
    Iago Cassio, my lord? No sure, I cannot think it
    That he would steal away so guilty-like,
    Seeing your coming.
    I do believe 'twas he.
    Desdemona How now, my lord?
    I have been talking with a suitor here,
    A man that languishes in your displeasure.
    Othello Who is't you mean?
    1640Desdemona Why, your lieutenant, Cassio. Good my lord,
    If I have any grace or power to move you,
    His present reconciliation take;
    For if he be not one that truly loves you,
    That errs in ignorance and not in cunning,
    1645I have no judgment in an honest face.
    I prithee call him back.
    Went he hence now?
    Aye, sooth, so humbled
    That he hath left part of his grief with me
    1650To suffer with him. Good love, call him back.
    Othello Not now, sweet Desdemon--some other time.
    But shall't be shortly?
    The sooner, sweet, for you.
    Shall't be tonight, at supper?
    No, not tonight.
    Tomorrow dinner, then?
    I shall not dine at home;
    I meet the captains at the citadel.
    Desdemona Why then, tomorrow night, or Tuesday morn,
    1660On Tuesday noon or night, or Wednesday morn.
    I prithee name the time, but let it not
    Exceed three days. In faith, he's penitent;
    And yet his trespass, in our common reason--
    Save that they say the wars must make example
    1665Out of her best--is not almost a fault
    T'incur a private check. When shall he come?
    Tell me, Othello. I wonder in my soul
    What you would ask me that I should deny
    Or stand so mamm'ring on? What? Michael Cassio,
    1670That came a-wooing with you, and so many a time
    When I have spoke of you dispraisingly
    Hath ta'en your part--to have so much to do
    To bring him in? By'r Lady, I could do much--
    Othello Prithee, no more. Let him come when he will;
    1675I will deny thee nothing.
    Why, this is not a boon;
    'Tis as I should entreat you wear your gloves,
    Or feed on nourishing dishes, or keep you warm,
    Or sue to you to do a peculiar profit
    1680To your own person. Nay, when I have a suit
    Wherein I mean to touch your love indeed,
    It shall be full of poise and difficult weight,
    And fearful to be granted.
    I will deny thee nothing.
    1685Whereon, I do beseech thee, grant me this:
    To leave me but a little to myself.
    Desdemona Shall I deny you? No! Farewell, my lord.
    Othello Farewell, my Desdemona. I'll come to thee straight.
    Desdemona Emilia, come. [To Othello] Be as your fancies teach you.
    1690Whate'er you be, I am obedient.
    Exeunt [Desdemona and Emilia].
    Othello Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul
    But I do love thee! And when I love thee not,
    Chaos is come again.
    My noble lord--
    What dost thou say, Iago?
    Iago Did Michael Cassio, when you wooed my lady,
    1697.1Know of your love?
    He did, from first to last.
    Why dost thou ask?
    1700Iago But for a satisfaction of my thought,
    No further harm.
    Why of thy thought, Iago?
    Iago I did not think he had been acquainted with her.
    Othello Oh yes, and went between us very oft.
    1705Iago Indeed?
    Othello Indeed? Ay, indeed. Discern'st thou aught in that?
    Is he not honest?
    Iago Honest, my lord?
    Othello Honest? Ay, honest.
    1710Iago My lord, for aught I know.
    Othello What dost thou think?
    Iago Think, my lord?
    Othello "Think, my lord?" By heaven, thou echo'st me
    As if there were some monster in thy thought
    1715Too hideous to be shown. Thou dost mean something.
    I heard thee say even now, thou lik'st not that
    When Cassio left my wife. What didst not like?
    And when I told thee he was of my counsel
    Of my whole course of wooing, thou cried'st "Indeed?"
    1720And didst contract and purse thy brow together
    As if thou then hadst shut up in thy brain
    Some horrible conceit. If thou dost love me,
    Show me thy thought.
    My lord, you know I love you.
    I think thou dost;
    And for I know thou'rt full of love and honesty,
    And weigh'st thy words before thou giv'st them breath,
    Therefore these stops of thine fright me the more.
    For such things in a false disloyal knave
    1730Are tricks of custom, but in a man that's just,
    They're close dilations, working from the heart,
    That passion cannot rule.
    For Michael Cassio,
    I dare be sworn, I think that he is honest.
    I think so too.
    Men should be what they seem,
    Or those that be not, would they might seem none.
    Othello Certain, men should be what they seem.
    Iago Why then, I think Cassio's an honest man.
    1740Othello Nay, yet there's more in this.
    I prithee speak to me as to thy thinkings,
    As thou dost ruminate, and give thy worst of thoughts
    The worst of words.
    Good my lord, pardon me.
    1745Though I am bound to every act of duty,
    I am not bound to that all slaves are free to.
    Utter my thoughts? Why, say they are vile and false--
    As where's that palace whereinto foul things
    Sometimes intrude not? Who has that breast so pure
    1750Wherein uncleanly apprehensions
    Keep leets and law-days, and in sessions sit
    With meditations lawful?
    Othello Thou dost conspire against thy friend, Iago,
    If thou but think'st him wronged and mak'st his ear
    1755A stranger to thy thoughts.
    I do beseech you,
    Though I perchance am vicious in my guess--
    As I confess it is my nature's plague
    To spy into abuses, and oft my jealousy
    1760Shapes faults that are not--that your wisdom
    From one that so imperfectly conceits
    Would take no notice, nor build yourself a trouble
    Out of his scattering and unsure observance.
    It were not for your quiet nor your good,
    1765Nor for my manhood, honesty, and wisdom
    To let you know my thoughts.
    What dost thou mean?
    Iago Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
    Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
    1770Who steals my purse, steals trash--'tis something, nothing;
    'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands--
    But he that filches from me my good name
    Robs me of that which not enriches him,
    1775And makes me poor indeed.
    I'll know thy thoughts.
    Iago You cannot, if my heart were in your hand,
    Nor shall not, whilst 'tis in my custody.
    Oh, beware, my lord, of jealousy.
    It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock
    The meat it feeds on. That cuckold lives in bliss
    Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger;
    But oh, what damnèd minutes tells he o'er
    1785Who dotes yet doubts, suspects yet soundly loves?
    Othello Oh, misery!
    Iago Poor and content is rich, and rich enough,
    But riches fineless is as poor as winter
    To him that ever fears he shall be poor.
    1790Good God, the souls of all my tribe defend
    From jealousy.
    Why? Why is this?
    Think'st thou I'd make a life of jealousy,
    To follow still the changes of the moon
    1795With fresh suspicions? No! To be once in doubt
    Is to be resolved. Exchange me for a goat
    When I shall turn the business of my soul
    To such exsuffilate and blowed surmises
    Matching thy inference. 'Tis not to make me jealous
    1800To say my wife is fair, feeds well, loves company,
    Is free of speech, sings, plays, and dances;
    Where virtue is, these are more virtuous.
    Nor from mine own weak merits will I draw
    The smallest fear or doubt of her revolt,
    1805For she had eyes and chose me. No, Iago,
    I'll see before I doubt; when I doubt, prove;
    And on the proof, there is no more but this:
    Away at once with love or jealousy.
    Iago I am glad of this, for now I shall have reason
    1810To show the love and duty that I bear you
    With franker spirit. Therefore, as I am bound,
    Receive it from me. I speak not yet of proof.
    Look to your wife; observe her well with Cassio.
    Wear your eyes thus, not jealous nor secure.
    1815I would not have your free and noble nature
    Out of self-bounty be abused. Look to't.
    I know our country disposition well.
    In Venice they do let God see the pranks
    They dare not show their husbands; 1820their best conscience
    Is not to leave't undone, but keep't unknown.
    Othello Dost thou say so?
    Iago She did deceive her father, marrying you;
    And when she seemed to shake and fear your looks,
    1825She loved them most.
    And so she did.
    Why, go to then.
    She that so young could give out such a seeming
    To seel her father's eyes up close as oak
    1830He thought 'twas witchcraft--but I am much to blame.
    I humbly do beseech you of your pardon
    For too much loving you.
    I am bound to thee forever.
    1835Iago I see this hath a little dashed your spirits.
    Not a jot, not a jot.
    I'faith, I fear it has.
    I hope you will consider what is spoke
    Comes from your love. 1840But I do see you're moved.
    I am to pray you not to strain my speech
    To grosser issues, nor to larger reach
    Than to suspicion.
    I will not.
    Should you do so, my lord,
    My speech should fall into such vile success,
    Which my thoughts aimed not. Cassio's my worthy friend.
    My lord, I see you're moved.
    No, not much moved.
    I do not think but Desdemona's honest.
    Iago Long live she so, and long live you to think so.
    Othello And yet how nature, erring from itself--
    1855Iago Ay, there's the point--as, to be bold with you,
    Not to affect many proposed matches
    Of her own clime, complexion, and degree,
    Whereto we see in all things nature tends--
    1860Foh! One may smell in such a will most rank,
    Foul disproportions, thoughts unnatural.
    But, pardon me, I do not in position
    Distinctly speak of her, though I may fear
    Her will, recoiling to her better judgment,
    1865May fall to match you with her country forms,
    And happily repent.
    Farewell, farewell.
    If more thou dost perceive, let me know more.
    Set on thy wife to observe. 1870Leave me, Iago.
    Iago [Starting to exit] My lord, I take my leave.
    Othello Why did I marry? This honest creature doubtless
    Sees and knows more, much more, than he unfolds.
    1875Iago [Returning] My lord, I would I might entreat your honor
    To scan this thing no farther; leave it to time.
    Although 'tis fit that Cassio have his place--
    For sure he fills it up with great ability--
    Yet, if you please to hold him off awhile,
    1880You shall by that perceive him and his means.
    Note if your lady strain his entertainment
    With any strong or vehement importunity;
    Much will be seen in that. In the meantime,
    Let me be thought too busy in my fears,
    1885(As worthy cause I have to fear I am),
    And hold her free, I do beseech your honor.
    Fear not my government.
    I once more take my leave.
    Exit [Iago].
    Othello This fellow's of exceeding honesty,
    1890And knows all qualities with a learned spirit
    Of human dealings. If I do prove her haggard,
    Though that her jesses were my dear heartstrings,
    I'd whistle her off and let her down the wind
    To prey at fortune. Haply for I am black
    1895And have not those soft parts of conversation
    That chamberers have, or for I am declined
    Into the vale of years--yet that's not much--
    She's gone. I am abused and my relief
    Must be to loathe her. Oh, curse of marriage,
    1900That we can call these delicate creatures ours
    And not their appetites! I had rather be a toad
    And live upon the vapor of a dungeon
    Than keep a corner in the thing I love
    For others' uses. Yet 'tis the plague to great ones,
    1905Prerogatived are they less than the base;
    'Tis destiny unshunnable, like death.
    Even then this forkèd plague is fated to us
    When we do quicken. Look where she comes--
    Enter Desdemona and Emilia.
    1910If she be false, heaven mocked itself;
    I'll not believe't.
    How now, my dear Othello?
    Your dinner, and the generous islanders
    By you invited, do attend your presence.
    I am to blame.
    Why do you speak so faintly?
    Are you not well?
    Othello I have a pain upon my forehead, here.
    Desdemona Why, that's with watching; 'twill away again.
    1920Let me but bind it hard; within this hour
    It will be well.
    [Desdemona tries to bind Othello's head with her handkerchief.]
    Your napkin is too little.
    [The handkerchief falls.]
    Let it alone. Come, I'll go in with you.
    Desdemona I am very sorry that you are not well.
    Exeunt [Othello and Desdemona].
    1925Emilia [Picking up the handkerchief] I am glad I have found this napkin.
    This was her first remembrance from the Moor.
    My wayward husband hath a hundred times
    Wooed me to steal it, but she so loves the token--
    For he conjured her she should ever keep it--
    1930That she reserves it evermore about her
    To kiss and talk to. I'll have the work taken out
    And give't Iago. What he will do with it,
    Heaven knows, not I;
    I nothing but to please his fantasy.
    Enter Iago.
    Iago How now? What do you here alone?
    Emilia Do not you chide; I have a thing for you.
    Iago You have a thing for me? It is a common thing--
    1940Emilia Ha?
    Iago To have a foolish wife.
    Emilia Oh, is that all? What will you give me now
    For that same handkerchief?
    What handkerchief?
    1945Emilia What handkerchief?
    Why that the Moor first gave to Desdemona,
    That which so often you did bid me steal.
    Iago Hast stolen it from her?
    Emilia No, but she let it drop by negligence,
    1950And, to th'advantage, I, being here, took't up.
    Look, here 'tis.
    A good wench. Give it me.
    Emilia What will you do with't, that you have been
    So earnest to have me filch it?
    [Iago snatches the handkerchief.]
    Why, what is that to you?
    Emilia If it be not for some purpose of import,
    Giv't me again. Poor lady, she'll run mad
    When she shall lack it.
    Be not acknown on't;
    1960I have use for it. Go, leave me.
    Exit Emilia.
    I will in Cassio's lodging lose this napkin
    And let him find it. Trifles light as air
    Are to the jealous confirmations strong
    As proofs of holy writ. This may do something.
    1965The Moor already changes with my poison.
    Dangerous conceits are in their natures poisons,
    Which at the first are scarce found to distaste,
    But with a little act upon the blood,
    Burn like the mines of sulfur. I did say so.
    Enter Othello.
    Look where he comes. Not poppy, nor mandragora,
    Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world
    Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
    Which thou owedst yesterday.
    Ha, ha! False to me?
    Iago Why, how now, general? No more of that.
    Othello Avaunt, be gone! Thou hast set me on the rack.
    I swear 'tis better to be much abused
    Than but to know't a little.
    How now, my lord?
    Othello What sense had I in her stolen hours of lust?
    I saw't not, thought it not, it harmed not me.
    I slept the next night well, fed well, was free and merry.
    I found not Cassio's kisses on her lips.
    1985He that is robbed, not wanting what is stolen,
    Let him not know't, and he's not robbed at all.
    Iago I am sorry to hear this.
    Othello I had been happy if the general camp,
    Pioneers and all, had tasted her sweet body,
    1990So I had nothing known. Oh, now, forever
    Farewell the tranquil mind; farewell content;
    Farewell the plumèd troops and the big wars
    That makes ambition virtue! Oh, farewell!
    Farewell the neighing steed and the shrill trump,
    1995The spirit-stirring drum, the ear-piercing fife,
    The royal banner, and all quality,
    Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!
    And O you mortal engines whose rude throats
    The immortal Jove's dread clamors counterfeit,
    2000Farewell! Othello's occupation's gone.
    Iago Is't possible, my lord?
    Othello Villain, be sure thou prove my love a whore!
    Be sure of it. Give me the ocular proof,
    [Othello grabs Iago.]
    Or, by the worth of mine eternal soul,
    2005Thou hadst been better have been born a dog
    Than answer my waked wrath.
    Is't come to this?
    Othello Make me to see't, or at the least so prove it
    That the probation bear no hinge nor loop
    2010To hang a doubt on, or woe upon thy life!
    Iago My noble lord--
    Othello If thou dost slander her and torture me,
    Never pray more; abandon all remorse,
    On horror's head horrors accumulate,
    2015Do deeds to make heaven weep, all earth amazed,
    For nothing canst thou to damnation add
    Greater than that.
    O grace! O heaven forgive me!
    Are you a man? Have you a soul? or sense?
    2020God b'wi'you, take mine office. O wretched fool
    That lov'st to make thine honesty a vice!
    O monstrous world! Take note, take note, O world,
    To be direct and honest is not safe.
    I thank you for this profit, and from hence
    2025I'll love no friend sith love breeds such offense.
    Othello Nay, stay; thou shouldst be honest.
    Iago I should be wise, for honesty's a fool
    And loses that it works for.
    By the world,
    2030I think my wife be honest, and think she is not;
    I think that thou art just, and think thou art not.
    I'll have some proof. Her name, that was as fresh
    As Dian's visage, is now begrimed and black
    As mine own face. If there be cords or knives,
    2035Poison, or fire, or suffocating streams,
    I'll not endure it. Would I were satisfied.
    Iago I see you are eaten up with passion;
    I do repent me that I put it to you.
    You would be satisfied?
    Would? Nay, and I will.
    Iago And may--but how? how satisfied, my lord?
    Would you, the supervisor, grossly gape on?
    Behold her topped?
    Death and damnation! Oh!
    2045Iago It were a tedious difficulty, I think,
    To bring them to that prospect. Damn them then,
    If ever mortal eyes do see them bolster
    More than their own. What then? How then?
    What shall I say? Where's satisfaction?
    2050It is impossible you should see this
    Were they as prime as goats, as hot as monkeys,
    As salt as wolves in pride, and fools as gross
    As ignorance made drunk. But yet, I say,
    If imputation and strong circumstances,
    2055Which lead directly to the door of truth,
    Will give you satisfaction, you might have't.
    Othello Give me a living reason she's disloyal.
    Iago I do not like the office;
    But sith I am entered in this cause so far--
    2060Pricked to't by foolish honesty and love--
    I will go on: I lay with Cassio lately,
    And, being troubled with a raging tooth,
    I could not sleep. There are a kind of men
    So loose of soul that in their sleeps will mutter
    2065Their affairs; one of this kind is Cassio.
    In sleep I heard him say "Sweet Desdemona,
    Let us be wary; let us hide our loves."
    And then, sir, would he gripe and wring my hand,
    Cry "O sweet creature!", then kiss me hard,
    2070As if he plucked up kisses by the roots
    That grew upon my lips, then laid his leg
    O'er my thigh, and sighed, and kissed, and then
    Cried "Cursèd fate that gave thee to the Moor!"
    Oh, monstrous! monstrous!
    Nay, this was but his dream.
    Othello But this denoted a foregone conclusion;
    'Tis a shrewd doubt, though it be but a dream.
    Iago And this may help to thicken other proofs
    That do demonstrate thinly.
    I'll tear her all to pieces!
    Iago Nay, yet be wise, yet we see nothing done;
    She may be honest yet. Tell me but this:
    Have you not sometimes seen a handkerchief
    Spotted with strawberries in your wife's hand?
    2085Othello I gave her such a one; 'twas my first gift.
    Iago I know not that, but such a handkerchief--
    I am sure it was your wife's--did I today
    See Cassio wipe his beard with.
    If it be that--
    2090Iago If it be that, or any, it was hers.
    It speaks against her with the other proofs.
    Othello Oh, that the slave had forty thousand lives!
    One is too poor, too weak for my revenge.
    Now do I see 'tis true. Look here, Iago:
    2095All my fond love thus do I blow to heaven--'tis gone!
    Arise, black vengeance from the hollow hell.
    Yield up, O love, thy crown and hearted throne
    To tyrannous hate. Swell, bosom, with thy fraught,
    For 'tis of aspics' tongues.
    Yet be content.
    [Othello kneels.]
    Othello Oh, blood, blood, blood!
    Iago Patience, I say. Your mind may change.
    Othello Never, Iago. Like to the Pontic Sea,
    Whose icy current and compulsive course
    2105Ne'er keeps retiring ebb but keeps due on
    To the Propontic and the Hellespont,
    Even so my bloody thoughts with violent pace
    Shall ne'er look back, ne'er ebb to humble love,
    Till that a capable and wide revenge
    2110Swallow them up. Now, by yon marble heaven,
    In the due reverence of a sacred vow,
    I here engage my words.
    Do not rise yet.
    Witness, you ever-burning lights above,
    2115You elements that clip us round about,
    [Iago kneels.]
    Witness that here Iago doth give up
    The execution of his wit, hands, heart
    To wronged Othello's service. Let him command,
    And to obey shall be in me remorse,
    2120What bloody business ever.
    [Othello and Iago rise.]
    I greet thy love
    Not with vain thanks but with acceptance bounteous,
    And will upon the instant put thee to't.
    Within these three days let me hear thee say
    2125That Cassio's not alive.
    My friend is dead;
    'Tis done at your request. But let her live.
    Othello Damn her, lewd minx! 2130Oh, damn her, damn her!
    Come, go with me apart; I will withdraw
    To furnish me with some swift means of death
    For the fair devil. Now art thou my lieutenant.
    2135Iago I am your own forever.