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The Tragedy of Othello, Moor of Venice

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Act I, Scene 1

Venice. A street.



  • Roderigo. Tush! never tell me; I take it much unkindly
    That thou, Iago, who hast had my purse
    As if the strings were thine, shouldst know of this.
  • Iago. 'Sblood, but you will not hear me: 5
    If ever I did dream of such a matter, Abhor me.
  • Roderigo. Thou told'st me thou didst hold him in thy hate.
  • Iago. Despise me, if I do not. Three great ones of the city,
    In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,
    Off-capp'd to him: and, by the faith of man, 10
    I know my price, I am worth no worse a place:
    But he; as loving his own pride and purposes,
    Evades them, with a bombast circumstance
    Horribly stuff'd with epithets of war;
    And, in conclusion, 15
    Nonsuits my mediators; for, 'Certes,' says he,
    'I have already chose my officer.'
    And what was he?
    Forsooth, a great arithmetician,
    One Michael Cassio, a Florentine, 20
    A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife;
    That never set a squadron in the field,
    Nor the division of a battle knows
    More than a spinster; unless the bookish theoric,
    Wherein the toged consuls can propose 25
    As masterly as he: mere prattle, without practise,
    Is all his soldiership. But he, sir, had the election:
    And I, of whom his eyes had seen the proof
    At Rhodes, at Cyprus and on other grounds
    Christian and heathen, must be be-lee'd and calm'd 30
    By debitor and creditor: this counter-caster,
    He, in good time, must his lieutenant be,
    And I—God bless the mark!—his Moorship's ancient.
  • Roderigo. By heaven, I rather would have been his hangman.
  • Iago. Why, there's no remedy; 'tis the curse of service, 35
    Preferment goes by letter and affection,
    And not by old gradation, where each second
    Stood heir to the first. Now, sir, be judge yourself,
    Whether I in any just term am affined
    To love the Moor. 40
  • Iago. O, sir, content you;
    I follow him to serve my turn upon him:
    We cannot all be masters, nor all masters
    Cannot be truly follow'd. You shall mark 45
    Many a duteous and knee-crooking knave,
    That, doting on his own obsequious bondage,
    Wears out his time, much like his master's ass,
    For nought but provender, and when he's old, cashier'd:
    Whip me such honest knaves. Others there are 50
    Who, trimm'd in forms and visages of duty,
    Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves,
    And, throwing but shows of service on their lords,
    Do well thrive by them and when they have lined
    their coats 55
    Do themselves homage: these fellows have some soul;
    And such a one do I profess myself. For, sir,
    It is as sure as you are Roderigo,
    Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago:
    In following him, I follow but myself; 60
    Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
    But seeming so, for my peculiar end:
    For when my outward action doth demonstrate
    The native act and figure of my heart
    In compliment extern, 'tis not long after 65
    But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
    For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.
  • Roderigo. What a full fortune does the thicklips owe
    If he can carry't thus!
  • Iago. Call up her father, 70
    Rouse him: make after him, poison his delight,
    Proclaim him in the streets; incense her kinsmen,
    And, though he in a fertile climate dwell,
    Plague him with flies: though that his joy be joy,
    Yet throw such changes of vexation on't, 75
    As it may lose some colour.
  • Roderigo. Here is her father's house; I'll call aloud.
  • Iago. Do, with like timorous accent and dire yell
    As when, by night and negligence, the fire
    Is spied in populous cities. 80
  • Roderigo. What, ho, Brabantio! Signior Brabantio, ho!
  • Iago. Awake! what, ho, Brabantio! thieves! thieves! thieves!
    Look to your house, your daughter and your bags!
    Thieves! thieves!

[BRABANTIO appears above, at a window]

  • Brabantio. What is the reason of this terrible summons?
    What is the matter there?
  • Roderigo. Signior, is all your family within?
  • Iago. Are your doors lock'd?
  • Iago. 'Zounds, sir, you're robb'd; for shame, put on
    your gown;
    Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul;
    Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
    Is topping your white ewe. Arise, arise; 95
    Awake the snorting citizens with the bell,
    Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you:
    Arise, I say.
  • Roderigo. Most reverend signior, do you know my voice? 100
  • Brabantio. The worser welcome:
    I have charged thee not to haunt about my doors:
    In honest plainness thou hast heard me say 105
    My daughter is not for thee; and now, in madness,
    Being full of supper and distempering draughts,
    Upon malicious bravery, dost thou come
    To start my quiet.
  • Brabantio. But thou must needs be sure
    My spirit and my place have in them power
    To make this bitter to thee.
  • Brabantio. What tell'st thou me of robbing? this is Venice; 115
    My house is not a grange.
  • Roderigo. Most grave Brabantio,
    In simple and pure soul I come to you.
  • Iago. 'Zounds, sir, you are one of those that will not
    serve God, if the devil bid you. Because we come to 120
    do you service and you think we are ruffians, you'll
    have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse;
    you'll have your nephews neigh to you; you'll have
    coursers for cousins and gennets for germans.
  • Iago. I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter
    and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs.
  • Iago. You are—a senator.
  • Brabantio. This thou shalt answer; I know thee, Roderigo. 130
  • Roderigo. Sir, I will answer any thing. But, I beseech you,
    If't be your pleasure and most wise consent,
    As partly I find it is, that your fair daughter,
    At this odd-even and dull watch o' the night,
    Transported, with no worse nor better guard 135
    But with a knave of common hire, a gondolier,
    To the gross clasps of a lascivious Moor—
    If this be known to you and your allowance,
    We then have done you bold and saucy wrongs;
    But if you know not this, my manners tell me 140
    We have your wrong rebuke. Do not believe
    That, from the sense of all civility,
    I thus would play and trifle with your reverence:
    Your daughter, if you have not given her leave,
    I say again, hath made a gross revolt; 145
    Tying her duty, beauty, wit and fortunes
    In an extravagant and wheeling stranger
    Of here and every where. Straight satisfy yourself:
    If she be in her chamber or your house,
    Let loose on me the justice of the state 150
    For thus deluding you.
  • Brabantio. Strike on the tinder, ho!
    Give me a taper! call up all my people!
    This accident is not unlike my dream:
    Belief of it oppresses me already. 155
    Light, I say! light!

[Exit above]

  • Iago. Farewell; for I must leave you:
    It seems not meet, nor wholesome to my place,
    To be produced—as, if I stay, I shall— 160
    Against the Moor: for, I do know, the state,
    However this may gall him with some cheque,
    Cannot with safety cast him, for he's embark'd
    With such loud reason to the Cyprus wars,
    Which even now stand in act, that, for their souls, 165
    Another of his fathom they have none,
    To lead their business: in which regard,
    Though I do hate him as I do hell-pains.
    Yet, for necessity of present life,
    I must show out a flag and sign of love, 170
    Which is indeed but sign. That you shall surely find him,
    Lead to the Sagittary the raised search;
    And there will I be with him. So, farewell.


[Enter, below, BRABANTIO, and Servants with torches]

  • Brabantio. It is too true an evil: gone she is;
    And what's to come of my despised time
    Is nought but bitterness. Now, Roderigo,
    Where didst thou see her? O unhappy girl!
    With the Moor, say'st thou? Who would be a father! 180
    How didst thou know 'twas she? O she deceives me
    Past thought! What said she to you? Get more tapers:
    Raise all my kindred. Are they married, think you?
  • Brabantio. O heaven! How got she out? O treason of the blood! 185
    Fathers, from hence trust not your daughters' minds
    By what you see them act. Is there not charms
    By which the property of youth and maidhood
    May be abused? Have you not read, Roderigo,
    Of some such thing? 190
  • Brabantio. Call up my brother. O, would you had had her!
    Some one way, some another. Do you know
    Where we may apprehend her and the Moor?
  • Roderigo. I think I can discover him, if you please, 195
    To get good guard and go along with me.
  • Brabantio. Pray you, lead on. At every house I'll call;
    I may command at most. Get weapons, ho!
    And raise some special officers of night.
    On, good Roderigo: I'll deserve your pains. 200