Internet Shakespeare Editions

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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
    Peer Reviewed

    Othello (Modern)

    Enter Othello, Desdemona, Cassio, and attendants.
    Good Michael, look you to the guard tonight.
    Let's teach ourselves that honorable stop
    Not to outsport discretion.
    Iago hath direction what to do;
    1115But notwithstanding, with my personal eye
    Will I look to't.
    Iago is most honest.
    Michael, goodnight. Tomorrow with your earliest
    Let me have speech with you. [To Desdemona] Come, my dear love,
    1120The purchase made, the fruits are to ensue;
    That profit's yet to come 'tween me and you.
    [Exeunt all but Cassio.]
    Enter Iago.
    Welcome, Iago. We must to the watch.
    Not this hour, lieutenant; 'tis not yet ten o'th'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.
    She's a most exquisite lady.
    And I'll warrant her full of game.
    Indeed she's a most fresh and delicate creature.
    What an eye she has! Methinks it sounds a parley to provocation.
    An inviting eye--and yet methinks right modest.
    And when she speaks, is it not an alarum to love?
    She is indeed perfection.
    Well, happiness to their sheets. Come, lieutenant, I have a stoup of wine and here without are a brace of Cyprus gallants that would fain have a measure to the health of black Othello.
    Not tonight, good Iago. I have very poor 1145and unhappy brains for drinking. I could well wish courtesy would invent some other custom of entertainment.
    Oh, they are our friends--but one cup; I'll drink for you.
    I have drunk but one cup tonight, and that was craftily qualified too, and behold what innovation it makes here. I am infortunate in the infirmity and dare not task my weakness with any more.
    What, man? 'Tis a night of revels; the 1155gallants desire it.
    Where are they?
    Here at the door. I pray you call them in.
    I'll do't, but it dislikes me.
    Exit [Cassio].
    If I can fasten but one cup upon him
    1160With that which he hath drunk tonight already,
    He'll be as full of quarrel and offense
    As my young mistress's dog. Now, my sick fool Roderigo,
    Whom love hath turned almost the wrong side out,
    1165To Desdemona hath tonight caroused
    Potations pottle-deep; and he's to watch.
    Three else of Cyprus--noble, swelling spirits
    That hold their honors in a wary distance,
    The very elements of this warlike isle--
    1170Have I tonight flustered with flowing cups,
    And they watch too. Now 'mongst this flock of drunkards
    Am I to put our Cassio in some action
    That may offend the isle. But here they come.
    1175Enter Cassio, Montano, and Gentlemen [with wine].
    If consequence do but approve my dream,
    My boat sails freely, both with wind and stream.
    'Fore God, they have given me a rouse already.
    Good faith, a little one--not past a pint, as I am a 1180soldier.
    Some wine, ho!
    And let me the cannikin clink, clink,
    And let me the cannikin clink.
    A soldier's a man; Oh, man's life's but a span,
    1185Why then let a soldier drink.
    Some wine, boys!
    'Fore God, an excellent song!
    I learned it in England, where indeed they are most potent in potting. Your Dane, your German, 1190and your swag-bellied Hollander--drink, ho!--are nothing to your English.
    Is your Englishman so exquisite in his drinking?
    Why, he drinks you with facility your Dane 1195dead drunk. He sweats not to overthrow your Almain. He gives your Hollander a vomit ere the next pottle can be filled.
    To the health of our general!
    I am for it, lieutenant, and I'll do you justice.
    O sweet England!
    King Stephen was and-a worthy peer,
    His breeches cost him but a crown;
    He held them sixpence all too dear,
    With that he called the tailor lown.
    1205He was a wight of high renown,
    And thou art but of low degree;
    'Tis pride that pulls the country down,
    And take thy old cloak about thee.
    Some wine, ho!
    'Fore God, this is a more exquisite song than the other.
    Will you hear't again?
    No, for I hold him to be unworthy of his place that does those things. Well, God's above all, and 1215there be souls must be saved, and there be souls must not be saved.
    It's true, good lieutenant.
    For mine own part--no offense to the general nor any man of quality--I hope to be saved.
    And so do I too, lieutenant.
    Ay--but by your leave, not before me. The lieutenant is to be saved before the ancient. Let's have no more of this. Let's to our affairs. God forgive us our sins. Gentlemen, let's look to our business. Do not 1225think, gentlemen, I am drunk. This is my ancient, this is my right hand and this is my left. I am not drunk now. I can stand well enough, and I speak well enough.
    Excellent well.
    Why, very well then--you must not think, then, 1230that I am drunk.
    Exit [Cassio].
    To th'platform, masters; come, let's set the watch.
    You see this fellow that is gone before:
    He's a soldier fit to stand by Caesar
    1235And give direction. And do but see his vice:
    'Tis to his virtue a just equinox,
    The one as long as th'other. 'Tis pity of him;
    I fear the trust Othello puts him in
    On some odd time of his infirmity
    1240Will shake this island.
    But is he often thus?
    'Tis evermore his prologue to his sleep.
    He'll watch the horologe a double set
    If drink rock not his cradle.
    It were well
    The general were put in mind of it;
    Perhaps he sees it not, or his good nature
    Prizes the virtue that appears in Cassio
    And looks not on his evils. Is not this true?
    1250Enter Roderigo.
    [Aside to Roderigo] How now, Roderigo?
    I pray you, after the lieutenant go.
    [Exit Roderigo.]
    And 'tis great pity that the noble Moor
    Should hazard such a place as his own second
    1255With one of an ingraft infirmity.
    It were an honest action to say so
    To the Moor.
    Not I, for this fair island;
    I do love Cassio well, and would do much
    1260To cure him of this evil--
    (Voices within) Help! Help!
    --but hark, what noise?
    Enter Cassio pursuing Roderigo.
    Zounds, you rogue! You rascal!
    What's the matter, lieutenant?
    A knave teach me my duty? I'll beat the 1265knave into a twiggen bottle.
    Beat me?
    Dost thou prate, rogue?
    Nay, good lieutenant! Pray, sir, hold your hand.
    Let me go, sir, or I'll knock you o'er the mazard.
    Come, come, you're drunk.
    [They fight.]
    [Aside to Roderigo] Away, I say! Go out and cry a mutiny.
    [Exit Roderigo.]
    1275Nay, good lieutenant. God's will, gentlemen!
    Help, ho! Lieutenant! Sir Montano! Sir!
    Help, masters! Here's a goodly watch indeed.
    [A bell rings.]
    Who's that which rings the bell? Diablo, ho!
    The town will rise. God's will, lieutenant, hold.
    1280You'll be ashamed forever.
    Enter Othello and attendants [with weapons].
    What is the matter here?
    Zounds, I bleed still! I am hurt to th'death.
    [Lunging at Cassio]
    He dies!
    Hold, for your lives!
    Hold, ho! Lieutenant, Sir Montano, gentlemen!
    Have you forgot all place of sense and duty?
    Hold. The general speaks to you--hold, for shame.
    Why, how now, ho? From whence ariseth this?
    Are we turned Turks and to ourselves do that
    1290Which heaven hath forbid the Ottomites?
    For Christian shame, put by this barbarous brawl.
    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
    1295From her propriety. What is the matter, masters?
    Honest Iago, that looks dead with grieving,
    Speak. Who began this? On thy love, I charge thee.
    I do not know. Friends all, but now, even now,
    In quarter and in terms like bride and groom
    1300Divesting them for bed; and then, but now,
    As if some planet had unwitted men,
    Swords out and tilting one at other's breasts
    In opposition bloody. I cannot speak
    Any beginning to this peevish odds.
    1305And would in action glorious I had lost
    Those legs that brought me to a part of it.
    How comes it, Michael, you are thus forgot?
    I pray you pardon me; I cannot speak.
    Worthy Montano, you were wont to be civil;
    1310The gravity and stillness of your youth
    The world hath noted, and your name is great
    In mouths of wisest censure. What's the matter
    That you unlace your reputation thus,
    And spend your rich opinion for the name
    1315Of a nightbrawler? Give me answer to it.
    Worthy Othello, I am hurt to danger.
    Your officer Iago can inform you--
    While I spare speech, which something now offends me--
    Of all that I do know; nor know I ought
    1320By me that's said or done amiss this night,
    Unless self-charity be sometimes a vice,
    And to defend ourselves it be a sin
    When violence assails us.
    Now, by heaven,
    1325My blood begins my safer guides to rule,
    And passion, having my best judgment collied,
    Assays to lead the way. Zounds, if I stir,
    Or do but lift this arm, the best of you
    Shall sink in my rebuke. Give me to know
    1330How this foul rout began, who set it on,
    And he that is approved in this offense,
    Though he had twinned with me both at a birth,
    Shall lose me. What, in a town of war
    Yet wild, the people's hearts brimful of fear,
    1335To manage private and domestic quarrel
    In night and on the court and guard of safety?
    'Tis monstrous! Iago, who began't?
    If, partially affined or leagued in office,
    Thou dost deliver more or less than truth,
    1340Thou art no soldier.
    Touch 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
    1345Shall nothing wrong him. This it is, general:
    Montano and myself being in speech,
    There comes a fellow crying out for help,
    And Cassio following with determined sword
    To execute upon him. Sir, this gentleman
    1350Steps in to Cassio and entreats his pause;
    Myself the crying fellow did pursue,
    Lest by his clamor, as it so fell out,
    The town might fall in fright. He, swift of foot,
    Outran my purpose, and I returned then, rather
    1355For that I heard the clink and fall of swords,
    And Cassio high in oath, which till tonight
    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
    1360When you yourself did part them.
    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,
    1365Yet surely Cassio, I believe, received
    From him that fled some strange indignity
    Which patience could not pass.
    I know, Iago,
    Thy honesty and love doth mince this matter,
    1370Making it light to Cassio.--Cassio, I love thee,
    But never more be officer of mine.
    Enter Desdemona, attended.
    Look if my gentle love be not raised up.
    I'll make thee an example.
    What is the matter, dear?
    All's well, sweeting.
    Come away to bed. [To Montano] Sir, for your hurts
    Myself will be your surgeon. Lead him off.
    [Montano is led off.]
    Iago, look with care about the town,
    1380And silence those whom this vile brawl distracted.
    Come, Desdemona; 'tis the soldier's life
    To have their balmy slumbers waked with strife.
    Exeunt [Othello, Desdemona, and attendants.]
    What, are you hurt, lieutenant?
    Ay, past all surgery.
    Marry, God forbid.
    Reputation, reputation, reputation! Oh, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation, Iago, my reputation.
    As I am an honest man, I had thought you had received some bodily wound; there is more sense in that than 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 1395repute yourself such a loser. What, man, there are more ways to recover the general again. You are but now cast in his mood, a punishment more in policy than in malice--even so as one would beat his offenseless dog to affright an imperious lion. Sue to 1400him again and he's yours.
    I will rather sue to be despised than to deceive so good a commander with so slight, so drunken, and so indiscrete an officer. Drunk? and speak parrot? and squabble? swagger? swear? and discourse fustian 1405with one's own shadow? O thou invisible spirit of wine, if thou hast no name to be known by, let us call thee devil!
    What was he that you followed with your sword? What had he done to you?
    I know not.
    Is't possible?
    I 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 1415away their brains! that we should with joy, pleasance, revel and applause transform ourselves into beasts!
    Why, but you are now well enough. How came you thus recovered?
    It hath pleased the devil drunkenness to give 1420place to the devil wrath; one unperfectness shows me another to make me frankly despise myself.
    Come, 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 1425it is, mend it for your own good.
    I will ask him for my place again; he shall tell me 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--Oh, 1430strange! Every inordinate cup is unblessed, and the ingredient is a devil.
    Come, 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 1435you.
    I have well approved it, sir--I drunk?
    You, or any man living, may be drunk at a time, man. I tell you what you shall do: our general's wife is now the general. I may say so in this respect, 1440for that he hath devoted and given up himself to the contemplation, mark, and devotement of her parts and graces. Confess yourself freely to her; importune her help to put you in your place again. She is of so free, so kind, so apt, so blessed a disposition 1445she 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 fortunes against any lay worth naming, this crack of your love shall grow stronger than it was before.
    You advise me well.
    I protest in the sincerity of love and honest kindness.
    I think it freely; and betimes in the morning I will beseech the virtuous Desdemona to undertake 1455for me. I am desperate of my fortunes if they check me.
    You are in the right. Goodnight, lieutenant. I must to the watch.
    Goodnight, honest Iago.
    Exit Cassio.
    And what's he, then, that says I play the villain,
    When this advice is free I give, and honest,
    Probal to thinking, and, indeed, the course
    To win the Moor again? 1465For 'tis most easy
    Th'inclining Desdemona to subdue
    In any honest suit. She's framed as fruitful
    As the free elements. And then for her
    To win the Moor were to renounce his baptism,
    1470All seals and symbols of redeemèd sin;
    His soul is so enfettered to her love
    That she may make, unmake, do what she list
    Even as her appetite shall play the god
    With his weak function. How am I then a villain
    1475To counsel Cassio to this parallel course
    Directly to his good? Divinity of hell!
    When devils will the blackest sins put on,
    They do suggest at first with heavenly shows,
    As I do now. For whiles this honest fool
    1480Plies Desdemona to repair his fortune,
    And she for him pleads strongly to the Moor,
    I'll pour this pestilence into his ear:
    That she repeals him for her body's lust;
    And by how much she strives to do him good,
    1485She shall undo her credit with the Moor.
    So will I turn her virtue into pitch,
    And out of her own goodness make the net
    That shall enmesh them all.
    1490Enter Roderigo.
    How now, Roderigo?
    I 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 tonight exceedingly well cudgeled, and I think the issue 1495will 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.
    How poor are they that have not patience?
    What wound did ever heal but by degrees?
    1500Thou 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 hath cashiered Cassio.
    Though other things grow fair against the sun,
    1505Yet 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.
    1510Nay, get thee gone.
    Exit Roderigo.
    Two things are to be done:
    My wife must move for Cassio to her mistress;
    I'll set her on.
    1513.1Myself awhile to draw the Moor apart
    And bring him jump when he may Cassio find
    1515Soliciting his wife. Ay, that's the way;
    Dull not device by coldness and delay.
    Exit [Iago].