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 [with a light], and Desdemona in her bed.
    It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul.
    Let me not name it to you, you chaste stars.
    It is the cause. Yet I'll not shed her blood,
    Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow
    And smooth as monumental alabaster--
    3245Yet she must die, else she'll betray more men.
    Put out the light, and then put out the light--
    If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
    I can again thy former light restore
    Should I repent me. But once put out thy light,
    3250Thou cunning'st pattern of excelling nature,
    I know not where is that Promethean heat
    That can thy light relume. When I have plucked thy rose,
    I cannot give it vital growth again;
    3255It needs must wither. I'll smell thee on the tree.
    [He kisses her.]
    O balmy breath, that dost almost persuade
    Justice to break her sword--one more, one more.
    [He kisses her.]
    Be thus when thou art dead, and I will kill thee
    And love thee after--one more, and that's the last.
    [He kisses her.]
    3260So sweet was ne'er so fatal. I must weep,
    But they are cruel tears. This sorrow's heavenly;
    It strikes where it doth love. She wakes.
    Who's there? Othello?
    Ay, Desdemona.
    Will you come to bed, my lord?
    Have you prayed tonight, Desdemon?
    Ay, my lord.
    If you bethink yourself of any crime
    Unreconciled as yet to heaven and grace,
    3270Solicit for it straight.
    Alack, my lord, what may you mean by that?
    Well, do it, and be brief; I will walk by.
    I would not kill thy unpreparèd spirit.
    3275No, heavens forfend!--I would not kill thy soul.
    Talk you of killing?
    Ay, I do.
    Then heaven have mercy on me.
    Amen, with all my heart.
    If you say so, I hope you will not kill me.
    And yet I fear you, for you're fatal then
    When your eyes roll so. Why I should fear I know not,
    3285Since guiltiness I know not; but yet I feel I fear.
    Think on thy sins.
    They are loves I bear to you.
    Ay, and for that thou diest.
    That death's unnatural that kills for loving.
    3290Alas, why gnaw you so your nether lip?
    Some bloody passion shakes your very frame.
    These are portents; but yet I hope, I hope,
    They do not point on me.
    Peace, and be still.
    I will so. What's the matter?
    That handkerchief which I so loved and gave thee,
    Thou gav'st to Cassio.
    No, by my life and soul!
    Send for the man and ask him.
    Sweet soul, take heed;
    Take heed of perjury; thou art on thy deathbed.
    Ay, but not yet to die.
    Yes, presently.
    Therefore confess thee freely of thy sin;
    3305For to deny each article with oath
    Cannot remove nor choke the strong conception
    That I do groan withal. Thou art to die.
    O heaven have mercy on me!
    I say amen.
    And have you mercy too. I never did
    Offend you in my life, never loved Cassio
    But with such general warranty of heaven
    As I might love. I never gave him token.
    By heaven, I saw my handkerchief in's hand.
    3315O perjured woman, thou dost stone my heart,
    And makes me call what I intend to do
    A murder, which I thought a sacrifice.
    I saw the handkerchief.
    He found it then.
    3320I never gave it him. Send for him hither.
    Let him confess a truth.
    He hath confessed.
    What, my lord?
    That he hath--'ud's death!--used thee.
    How? Unlawfully?
    He will not say so.
    No, his mouth is stopped.
    Honest Iago hath ta'en order for't.
    Oh, my fear interprets. What, is he dead?
    Had all his hairs been lives, my great revenge
    Had stomach for them all.
    Alas, he is betrayed, and I undone.
    Out, strumpet! Weep'st thou for him to my face?
    Oh, banish me, my lord, but kill me not.
    Down, strumpet.
    Kill me tomorrow; let me live tonight.
    Nay, if you strive.
    But half an hour.
    Being done, there is no pause.
    But while I say one prayer.
    It is too late.
    [Othello] smothers her.
    Emilia [is heard] at the door.
    [Within] My lord, my lord? What ho? 3345My lord, my lord!
    What noise is this? Not dead? Not yet quite dead?
    I that am cruel am yet merciful;
    I would not have thee linger in thy pain--
    [Smothering her again] So, so.
    (Within) What ho? My lord, my lord?
    Who's there?
    O good my lord, I would speak a word with you.
    Yes--'Tis Emilia.--By and by!--She's dead.
    3355'Tis like she comes to speak of Cassio's death.
    The noise was high. Ha, no more moving?
    Still as the grave. Shall she come in? Were't good?
    I think she stirs again. No. What's best to do?
    If she come in, she'll sure speak to my wife--
    3360My wife, my wife--what wife? I have no wife.
    Oh, insupportable! Oh, heavy hour!
    Methinks it should be now a huge eclipse
    Of sun and moon, and that th'affrighted globe
    Did yawn at alteration.
    [Within] I do beseech you
    That I may speak with you. O good my lord.
    I had forgot thee. O come in, Emilia.
    Soft,--By and by!--let me the curtains draw.
    [He closes the bed curtains.]
    Where art thou? What's the matter with thee now?
    3370[He unlocks the door.] Enter Emilia.
    O my good lord, yonder's foul murders done.
    What? Now?
    But now, my lord.
    It is the very error of the moon;
    She comes more nearer Earth than she was wont,
    And makes men mad.
    Cassio, my lord, hath killed
    A young Venetian called Roderigo.
    Roderigo killed? And Cassio killed?
    No, Cassio is not killed.
    Not Cassio killed? Then murder's out of tune,
    And sweet revenge grows harsh.
    Oh, falsely, falsely murdered.
    O Lord! What cry is that?
    That? What?
    Out and alas, that was my lady's voice!
    [She opens the bed curtains.]
    Help, help, ho, help! O lady, speak again.
    Sweet Desdemona, O sweet mistress, speak.
    A guiltless death I die.
    Oh, who hath done this deed?
    Nobody--I myself. Farewell--
    Commend me to my kind lord--Oh, farewell.
    [Desdemona dies.]
    Why, how should she be murdered?
    Alas, who knows?
    You heard her say herself, it was not I.
    She said so; I must needs report the truth.
    She's like a liar gone to burning hell;
    'Twas I that killed her.
    Oh, the more angel she, and you the blacker devil.
    She turned to folly, and she was a whore.
    Thou dost belie her, and thou art a devil.
    She was false as water.
    Thou art rash as fire
    To say that she was false. Oh, she was heavenly true.
    Cassio did top her; ask thy husband else.
    Oh, I were damned beneath all depth in hell,
    But that I did proceed upon just grounds
    3410To this extremity. Thy husband knew it all.
    My husband?
    Thy husband.
    That she was false to wedlock?
    Ay, with Cassio. Had she been true,
    3415If heaven would make me such another world
    Of one entire and perfect chrysolite,
    I'd not have sold her for it.
    My husband?
    Ay, 'twas he that told me on her first.
    3420An honest man he is, and hates the slime
    That sticks on filthy deeds.
    My husband?
    What needs this iterance, woman? I say, thy husband.
    O mistress, villainy hath made mocks with love--
    My husband say she was false?
    He, woman;
    I say thy husband--dost understand the word?--
    3430My friend, thy husband, honest, honest Iago.
    If he say so, may his pernicious soul
    Rot half a grain a day; he lies to th'heart.
    She was too fond of her most filthy bargain.
    Do thy worst.
    This deed of thine is no more worthy heaven,
    Than thou wast worthy her.
    Peace, you were best.
    Thou hast not half that power to do me harm
    3440As I have to be hurt. O gull, O dolt,
    As ignorant as dirt, thou hast done a deed--
    [Othello threatens Emilia with his sword.]
    I care not for thy sword; I'll make thee known
    Though I lost twenty lives. Help, help, ho, help!
    The Moor hath killed my mistress. Murder, murder!
    3445Enter Montano, Gratiano, and Iago.
    What is the matter? How now, general?
    Oh, are you come, Iago? You have done well,
    That men must lay their murders on your neck.
    What is the matter?
    [To Iago] Disprove this villain, if thou be'st a man.
    He says thou told'st him that his wife was false.
    I know thou didst not; thou'rt not such a villain.
    Speak, for my heart is full.
    I told him what I thought, 3455and told no more
    Than what he found himself was apt and true.
    But did you ever tell him she was false?
    I did.
    You told a lie, an odious damnèd lie,
    Upon my soul, a lie, a wicked lie.
    She false with Cassio? Did you say with Cassio?
    With Cassio, mistress. 3465Go to, charm your tongue.
    I will not charm my tongue; I am bound to speak.
    My mistress here lies murdered in her bed.
    O heavens forfend!
    And your reports have set the murder on.
    Nay, stare not, masters; it is true indeed.
    'Tis a strange truth.
    O monstrous act!
    Villainy, villainy, villainy!
    I think upon't, I think I smell't. O villainy--
    I thought so then--I'll kill myself for grief!
    O villainy! Villainy!
    What, are you mad? 3480I charge you get you home.
    Good gentlemen, let me have leave to speak.
    'Tis proper I obey him, but not now.
    Perchance, Iago, I will ne'er go home.
    Oh, Oh, Oh!
    [Othello falls on the bed.]
    Nay, lay thee down and roar,
    For thou hast killed the sweetest innocent
    That ere did lift up eye.
    Oh, she was foul!
    I scarce did know you, uncle. There lies your niece,
    3490Whose breath, indeed, these hands have newly stopped.
    I know this act shows horrible and grim.
    Poor Desdemon, I am glad thy father's dead;
    Thy match was mortal to him, and pure grief
    3495Shore his old thread in twain. Did he live now,
    This sight would make him do a desperate turn;
    Yea, curse his better angel from his side
    And fall to reprobance.
    'Tis pitiful, but yet Iago knows
    3500That she with Cassio hath the act of shame
    A thousand times committed. Cassio confessed it,
    And she did gratify his amorous works
    With that recognizance and pledge of love
    Which I first gave her;--I saw it in his hand--
    3505It was a handkerchief, an antique token
    My father gave my mother.
    O God, O heavenly God!
    Zounds, hold your peace.
    'Twill out, 'twill out. I peace?
    3510No, I will speak as liberal as the north;
    Let heaven and men and devils, let them all,
    All, all cry shame against me, yet I'll speak.
    Be wise, and get you home.
    I will not.
    [Iago threatens Emilia with his sword.]
    Fie, your sword upon a woman?
    O thou dull Moor, that handkerchief thou speak'st of
    I found by fortune, and did give my husband;
    For often, with a solemn earnestness--
    3520More than indeed belonged to such a trifle--
    He begged of me to steal't.
    Villainous whore!
    She give it Cassio? No, alas, I found it,
    And I did give't my husband.
    Filth, thou liest.
    By heaven, I do not. I do not, gentlemen.--
    O murderous coxcomb, what should such a fool
    Do with so good a wife?
    [Othello runs at Iago and is disarmed by Montano. Iago stabs Emilia.]
    Are there no stones in heaven
    3530But what serves for the thunder? Precious villain!
    The woman falls; sure he hath killed his wife.
    Ay, ay. Oh, lay me by my mistress's side.
    [Exit Iago.]
    He's gone, but his wife's killed.
    'Tis a notorious villain. Take you this weapon
    Which I have here recovered from the Moor.
    Come guard the door without; let him not pass,
    But kill him rather. I'll after that same villain,
    3540For 'tis a damnèd slave.
    Exeunt [Montano and Gratiano].
    I am not valiant neither,
    But every puny whipster gets my sword.
    But why should honor outlive honesty?
    Let it go all.
    What did thy song bode, lady?
    Hark, canst thou hear me? I will play the swan,
    And die in music:
    [Singing] Willow, willow, willow.
    Moor, she was chaste. She loved thee, cruel Moor.
    So come my soul to bliss, as I speak true;
    3550So speaking as I think, alas, I die.
    [Emilia dies.]
    I have another weapon in this chamber;
    It was a sword of Spain, the ice-brook's temper--
    Oh, here it is. Uncle, I must come forth.
    [Within] If thou attempt it, it will cost thee dear;
    3555Thou hast no weapon and perforce must suffer.
    Look in upon me then, and speak with me,
    Or naked as I am I will assault thee.
    [Enter Gratiano.]
    What is the matter?
    Behold, I have a weapon;
    3560A better never did itself sustain
    Upon a soldier's thigh. I have seen the day
    That with this little arm and this good sword
    I have made my way through more impediments
    Than twenty times your stop. But--O vain boast!--
    3565Who can control his fate? 'Tis not so now.
    Be not afraid, though you do see me weaponed.
    Here is my journey's end, here is my butt
    And very seamark of my utmost sail.
    Do you go back dismayed? 'Tis a lost fear.
    3570Man but a rush against Othello's breast
    And he retires. Where should Othello go?
    Now, how dost thou look now? O ill-starred wench,
    Pale as thy smock; when we shall meet at compt,
    This look of thine will hurl my soul from heaven
    3575And fiends will snatch at it. Cold, cold, my girl?
    Even like thy chastity. O cursèd, cursèd slave!
    Whip me, ye devils, from the possession of this heavenly sight,
    Blow me about in winds, roast me in sulfur,
    3580Wash me in steep-down gulfs of liquid fire--
    O Desdemon! Dead Desdemon! Dead--Oh, Oh!
    Enter Lodovico, Cassio [in a chair], Montano, and Iago with officers.
    Where is this rash and most unfortunate man?
    That's he that was Othello; here I am.
    Where is that viper? Bring the villain forth.
    I look down toward his feet, but that's a fable;
    If that thou be'st a devil, I cannot kill thee.
    [Othello wounds Iago.]
    Wrench his sword from him.
    I bleed, sir, but not killed.
    I am not sorry neither; I'd have thee live,
    For in my sense 'tis happiness to die.
    O thou Othello, that was once so good,
    3595Fallen in the practice of a damnèd slave,
    What shall be said to thee?
    Why, anything--
    An honorable murderer, if you will,
    For naught I did in hate, but all in honor.
    This wretch hath part confessed his villainy.
    Did you and he consent in Cassio's death?
    Dear general, I never gave you cause.
    I do believe it, and I ask your pardon.
    3605Will you, I pray, demand that demi-devil
    Why he hath thus ensnared my soul and body?
    Demand me nothing. What you know, you know.
    From this time forth, I never will speak word.
    What, not to pray?
    Torments will ope your lips.
    Well, thou dost best.
    Sir, you shall understand what hath befallen,
    Which, as I think, you know not. Here is a letter
    3615Found in the pocket of the slain Roderigo,
    And here another. The one of them imports
    The death of Cassio, to be undertook
    By Roderigo.
    O villain!
    Most heathenish and most gross!
    Now here's another discontented paper
    Found in his pocket too; and this, it seems,
    Roderigo meant t'have sent this damnèd villain,
    But that, belike, Iago in the interim
    3625Came in and satisfied him.
    O thou pernicious caitiff!
    How came you, Cassio, by that handkerchief
    That was my wife's?
    I found it in my chamber,
    3630And he himself confessed it but even now
    That there he dropped it for a special purpose
    Which wrought to his desire.
    O fool, fool, fool!
    There is besides in Roderigo's letter
    3635How he upbraids Iago that he made him
    Brave me upon the watch, whereon it came
    That I was cast; and even but now he spake,
    After long seeming dead, Iago hurt him,
    Iago set him on.
    [To Othello] You must forsake this room and go with us.
    Your power and your command is taken off,
    And Cassio rules in Cyprus. For this slave,
    If there be any cunning cruelty
    That can torment him much and hold him long,
    3645It shall be his. You shall close prisoner rest,
    Till that the nature of your fault be known
    To the Venetian state. Come, bring away.
    Soft you, a word or two before you go.
    I have done the state some service, and they know't;
    3650No more of that. I pray you in your letters,
    When you shall these unlucky deeds relate,
    Speak of me as I am. Nothing extenuate,
    Nor set down aught in malice. Then must you speak
    3655Of one that loved not wisely, but too well;
    Of one not easily jealous, but, being wrought,
    Perplexed in the extreme; of one whose hand,
    Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away
    Richer than all his tribe; of one whose subdued eyes,
    3660Albeit unused to the melting mood,
    Drops tears as fast as the Arabian trees
    Their medicinable gum. Set you down this,
    And say besides that in Aleppo once,
    Where a malignant and a turbaned Turk
    3665Beat a Venetian and traduced the state,
    I took by th'throat the circumcisèd dog
    And smote him--thus.
    [Othello stabs himself.]
    O bloody period.
    All that is spoke is marred.
    I kissed thee ere I killed thee--no way but this,
    Killing myself, to die upon a kiss.
    [Othello kisses Desdemona and] dies.
    This did I fear, but thought he had no weapon,
    For he was great of heart.
    O Spartan dog,
    3675More fell than anguish, hunger, or the sea,
    Look on the tragic loading of this bed.
    This is thy work. The object poisons sight;
    Let it be hid. Gratiano, keep the house
    3680And seize upon the fortunes of the Moor,
    For they succeed on you. [To Cassio] To you, lord governor,
    Remains the censure of this hellish villain;
    The time, the place, the torture, oh, enforce it.
    Myself will straight aboard, and to the state
    3685This heavy act with heavy heart relate.