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The Tragedy of Othello, Moor of Venice

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Act I, Scene 3

A council-chamber.


[The DUKE and Senators sitting at a table; Officers attending]

  • Duke of Venice. There is no composition in these news
    That gives them credit.
  • First Senator. Indeed, they are disproportion'd;
    My letters say a hundred and seven galleys. 330
  • Second Senator. And mine, two hundred:
    But though they jump not on a just account,—
    As in these cases, where the aim reports,
    'Tis oft with difference—yet do they all confirm 335
    A Turkish fleet, and bearing up to Cyprus.
  • Duke of Venice. Nay, it is possible enough to judgment:
    I do not so secure me in the error,
    But the main article I do approve
    In fearful sense. 340
  • Sailor. [Within] What, ho! what, ho! what, ho!

[Enter a Sailor]

  • Sailor. The Turkish preparation makes for Rhodes; 345
    So was I bid report here to the state
    By Signior Angelo.
  • First Senator. This cannot be,
    By no assay of reason: 'tis a pageant, 350
    To keep us in false gaze. When we consider
    The importancy of Cyprus to the Turk,
    And let ourselves again but understand,
    That as it more concerns the Turk than Rhodes,
    So may he with more facile question bear it, 355
    For that it stands not in such warlike brace,
    But altogether lacks the abilities
    That Rhodes is dress'd in: if we make thought of this,
    We must not think the Turk is so unskilful
    To leave that latest which concerns him first, 360
    Neglecting an attempt of ease and gain,
    To wake and wage a danger profitless.

[Enter a Messenger]

  • Messenger. The Ottomites, reverend and gracious,
    Steering with due course towards the isle of Rhodes,
    Have there injointed them with an after fleet.
  • Messenger. Of thirty sail: and now they do restem 370
    Their backward course, bearing with frank appearance
    Their purposes toward Cyprus. Signior Montano,
    Your trusty and most valiant servitor,
    With his free duty recommends you thus,
    And prays you to believe him. 375
  • Duke of Venice. 'Tis certain, then, for Cyprus.
    Marcus Luccicos, is not he in town?


  • Duke of Venice. Valiant Othello, we must straight employ you
    Against the general enemy Ottoman.
    I did not see you; welcome, gentle signior; 385
    We lack'd your counsel and your help tonight.
  • Brabantio. So did I yours. Good your grace, pardon me;
    Neither my place nor aught I heard of business
    Hath raised me from my bed, nor doth the general care
    Take hold on me, for my particular grief 390
    Is of so flood-gate and o'erbearing nature
    That it engluts and swallows other sorrows
    And it is still itself.
  • Brabantio. Ay, to me;
    She is abused, stol'n from me, and corrupted
    By spells and medicines bought of mountebanks;
    For nature so preposterously to err, 400
    Being not deficient, blind, or lame of sense,
    Sans witchcraft could not.
  • Duke of Venice. Whoe'er he be that in this foul proceeding
    Hath thus beguiled your daughter of herself
    And you of her, the bloody book of law 405
    You shall yourself read in the bitter letter
    After your own sense, yea, though our proper son
    Stood in your action.
  • Brabantio. Humbly I thank your grace.
    Here is the man, this Moor, whom now, it seems, 410
    Your special mandate for the state-affairs
    Hath hither brought.
  • Duke of Venice. [To OTHELLO] What, in your own part, can you say to this?
  • Othello. Most potent, grave, and reverend signiors,
    My very noble and approved good masters,
    That I have ta'en away this old man's daughter,
    It is most true; true, I have married her:
    The very head and front of my offending 420
    Hath this extent, no more. Rude am I in my speech,
    And little bless'd with the soft phrase of peace:
    For since these arms of mine had seven years' pith,
    Till now some nine moons wasted, they have used
    Their dearest action in the tented field, 425
    And little of this great world can I speak,
    More than pertains to feats of broil and battle,
    And therefore little shall I grace my cause
    In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,
    I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver 430
    Of my whole course of love; what drugs, what charms,
    What conjuration and what mighty magic,
    For such proceeding I am charged withal,
    I won his daughter.
  • Brabantio. A maiden never bold; 435
    Of spirit so still and quiet, that her motion
    Blush'd at herself; and she, in spite of nature,
    Of years, of country, credit, every thing,
    To fall in love with what she fear'd to look on!
    It is a judgment maim'd and most imperfect 440
    That will confess perfection so could err
    Against all rules of nature, and must be driven
    To find out practises of cunning hell,
    Why this should be. I therefore vouch again
    That with some mixtures powerful o'er the blood, 445
    Or with some dram conjured to this effect,
    He wrought upon her.
  • Duke of Venice. To vouch this, is no proof,
    Without more wider and more overt test
    Than these thin habits and poor likelihoods 450
    Of modern seeming do prefer against him.
  • First Senator. But, Othello, speak:
    Did you by indirect and forced courses
    Subdue and poison this young maid's affections?
    Or came it by request and such fair question 455
    As soul to soul affordeth?
  • Othello. I do beseech you,
    Send for the lady to the Sagittary,
    And let her speak of me before her father:
    If you do find me foul in her report, 460
    The trust, the office I do hold of you,
    Not only take away, but let your sentence
    Even fall upon my life.
  • Othello. Ancient, conduct them: you best know the place. 465
    [Exeunt IAGO and Attendants]
    And, till she come, as truly as to heaven
    I do confess the vices of my blood,
    So justly to your grave ears I'll present
    How I did thrive in this fair lady's love, 470
    And she in mine.
  • Othello. Her father loved me; oft invited me;
    Still question'd me the story of my life,
    From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes, 475
    That I have passed.
    I ran it through, even from my boyish days,
    To the very moment that he bade me tell it;
    Wherein I spake of most disastrous chances,
    Of moving accidents by flood and field 480
    Of hair-breadth scapes i' the imminent deadly breach,
    Of being taken by the insolent foe
    And sold to slavery, of my redemption thence
    And portance in my travels' history:
    Wherein of antres vast and deserts idle, 485
    Rough quarries, rocks and hills whose heads touch heaven
    It was my hint to speak,—such was the process;
    And of the Cannibals that each other eat,
    The Anthropophagi and men whose heads
    Do grow beneath their shoulders. This to hear 490
    Would Desdemona seriously incline:
    But still the house-affairs would draw her thence:
    Which ever as she could with haste dispatch,
    She'ld come again, and with a greedy ear
    Devour up my discourse: which I observing, 495
    Took once a pliant hour, and found good means
    To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart
    That I would all my pilgrimage dilate,
    Whereof by parcels she had something heard,
    But not intentively: I did consent, 500
    And often did beguile her of her tears,
    When I did speak of some distressful stroke
    That my youth suffer'd. My story being done,
    She gave me for my pains a world of sighs:
    She swore, in faith, twas strange, 'twas passing strange, 505
    'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful:
    She wish'd she had not heard it, yet she wish'd
    That heaven had made her such a man: she thank'd me,
    And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,
    I should but teach him how to tell my story. 510
    And that would woo her. Upon this hint I spake:
    She loved me for the dangers I had pass'd,
    And I loved her that she did pity them.
    This only is the witchcraft I have used:
    Here comes the lady; let her witness it. 515

[Enter DESDEMONA, IAGO, and Attendants]

  • Duke of Venice. I think this tale would win my daughter too.
    Good Brabantio,
    Take up this mangled matter at the best:
    Men do their broken weapons rather use 520
    Than their bare hands.
  • Brabantio. I pray you, hear her speak:
    If she confess that she was half the wooer,
    Destruction on my head, if my bad blame
    Light on the man! Come hither, gentle mistress: 525
    Do you perceive in all this noble company
    Where most you owe obedience?
  • Desdemona. My noble father,
    I do perceive here a divided duty:
    To you I am bound for life and education; 530
    My life and education both do learn me
    How to respect you; you are the lord of duty;
    I am hitherto your daughter: but here's my husband,
    And so much duty as my mother show'd
    To you, preferring you before her father, 535
    So much I challenge that I may profess
    Due to the Moor my lord.
  • Brabantio. God be wi' you! I have done.
    Please it your grace, on to the state-affairs:
    I had rather to adopt a child than get it. 540
    Come hither, Moor:
    I here do give thee that with all my heart
    Which, but thou hast already, with all my heart
    I would keep from thee. For your sake, jewel,
    I am glad at soul I have no other child: 545
    For thy escape would teach me tyranny,
    To hang clogs on them. I have done, my lord.
  • Duke of Venice. Let me speak like yourself, and lay a sentence,
    Which, as a grise or step, may help these lovers
    Into your favour. 550
    When remedies are past, the griefs are ended
    By seeing the worst, which late on hopes depended.
    To mourn a mischief that is past and gone
    Is the next way to draw new mischief on.
    What cannot be preserved when fortune takes 555
    Patience her injury a mockery makes.
    The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief;
    He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.
  • Brabantio. So let the Turk of Cyprus us beguile;
    We lose it not, so long as we can smile. 560
    He bears the sentence well that nothing bears
    But the free comfort which from thence he hears,
    But he bears both the sentence and the sorrow
    That, to pay grief, must of poor patience borrow.
    These sentences, to sugar, or to gall, 565
    Being strong on both sides, are equivocal:
    But words are words; I never yet did hear
    That the bruised heart was pierced through the ear.
    I humbly beseech you, proceed to the affairs of state.
  • Duke of Venice. The Turk with a most mighty preparation makes for 570
    Cyprus. Othello, the fortitude of the place is best
    known to you; and though we have there a substitute
    of most allowed sufficiency, yet opinion, a
    sovereign mistress of effects, throws a more safer
    voice on you: you must therefore be content to 575
    slubber the gloss of your new fortunes with this
    more stubborn and boisterous expedition.
  • Othello. The tyrant custom, most grave senators,
    Hath made the flinty and steel couch of war
    My thrice-driven bed of down: I do agnise 580
    A natural and prompt alacrity
    I find in hardness, and do undertake
    These present wars against the Ottomites.
    Most humbly therefore bending to your state,
    I crave fit disposition for my wife. 585
    Due reference of place and exhibition,
    With such accommodation and besort
    As levels with her breeding.
  • Desdemona. Nor I; I would not there reside,
    To put my father in impatient thoughts
    By being in his eye. Most gracious duke, 595
    To my unfolding lend your prosperous ear;
    And let me find a charter in your voice,
    To assist my simpleness.
  • Desdemona. That I did love the Moor to live with him, 600
    My downright violence and storm of fortunes
    May trumpet to the world: my heart's subdued
    Even to the very quality of my lord:
    I saw Othello's visage in his mind,
    And to his honour and his valiant parts 605
    Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate.
    So that, dear lords, if I be left behind,
    A moth of peace, and he go to the war,
    The rites for which I love him are bereft me,
    And I a heavy interim shall support 610
    By his dear absence. Let me go with him.
  • Othello. Let her have your voices.
    Vouch with me, heaven, I therefore beg it not,
    To please the palate of my appetite,
    Nor to comply with heat—the young affects 615
    In me defunct—and proper satisfaction.
    But to be free and bounteous to her mind:
    And heaven defend your good souls, that you think
    I will your serious and great business scant
    For she is with me: no, when light-wing'd toys 620
    Of feather'd Cupid seal with wanton dullness
    My speculative and officed instruments,
    That my disports corrupt and taint my business,
    Let housewives make a skillet of my helm,
    And all indign and base adversities 625
    Make head against my estimation!
  • Duke of Venice. Be it as you shall privately determine,
    Either for her stay or going: the affair cries haste,
    And speed must answer it.
  • Duke of Venice. At nine i' the morning here we'll meet again.
    Othello, leave some officer behind,
    And he shall our commission bring to you;
    With such things else of quality and respect 635
    As doth import you.
  • Othello. So please your grace, my ancient;
    A man he is of honest and trust:
    To his conveyance I assign my wife,
    With what else needful your good grace shall think 640
    To be sent after me.
  • Duke of Venice. Let it be so.
    Good night to every one.
    And, noble signior, 645
    If virtue no delighted beauty lack,
    Your son-in-law is far more fair than black.
  • Brabantio. Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see:
    She has deceived her father, and may thee. 650

[Exeunt DUKE OF VENICE, Senators, Officers, &c]

  • Othello. My life upon her faith! Honest Iago,
    My Desdemona must I leave to thee:
    I prithee, let thy wife attend on her:
    And bring them after in the best advantage. 655
    Come, Desdemona: I have but an hour
    Of love, of worldly matters and direction,
    To spend with thee: we must obey the time.


  • Iago. What say'st thou, noble heart?
  • Roderigo. What will I do, thinkest thou?
  • Iago. Why, go to bed, and sleep.
  • Roderigo. I will incontinently drown myself.
  • Iago. If thou dost, I shall never love thee after. Why, 665
    thou silly gentleman!
  • Roderigo. It is silliness to live when to live is torment; and
    then have we a prescription to die when death is our physician.
  • Iago. O villainous! I have looked upon the world for four
    times seven years; and since I could distinguish 670
    betwixt a benefit and an injury, I never found man
    that knew how to love himself. Ere I would say, I
    would drown myself for the love of a guinea-hen, I
    would change my humanity with a baboon.
  • Roderigo. What should I do? I confess it is my shame to be so 675
    fond; but it is not in my virtue to amend it.
  • Iago. Virtue! a fig! 'tis in ourselves that we are thus
    or thus. Our bodies are our gardens, to the which
    our wills are gardeners: so that if we will plant
    nettles, or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up 680
    thyme, supply it with one gender of herbs, or
    distract it with many, either to have it sterile
    with idleness, or manured with industry, why, the
    power and corrigible authority of this lies in our
    wills. If the balance of our lives had not one 685
    scale of reason to poise another of sensuality, the
    blood and baseness of our natures would conduct us
    to most preposterous conclusions: but we have
    reason to cool our raging motions, our carnal
    stings, our unbitted lusts, whereof I take this that 690
    you call love to be a sect or scion.
  • Iago. It is merely a lust of the blood and a permission of
    the will. Come, be a man. Drown thyself! drown
    cats and blind puppies. I have professed me thy 695
    friend and I confess me knit to thy deserving with
    cables of perdurable toughness; I could never
    better stead thee than now. Put money in thy
    purse; follow thou the wars; defeat thy favour with
    an usurped beard; I say, put money in thy purse. It 700
    cannot be that Desdemona should long continue her
    love to the Moor,— put money in thy purse,—nor he
    his to her: it was a violent commencement, and thou
    shalt see an answerable sequestration:—put but
    money in thy purse. These Moors are changeable in 705
    their wills: fill thy purse with money:—the food
    that to him now is as luscious as locusts, shall be
    to him shortly as bitter as coloquintida. She must
    change for youth: when she is sated with his body,
    she will find the error of her choice: she must 710
    have change, she must: therefore put money in thy
    purse. If thou wilt needs damn thyself, do it a
    more delicate way than drowning. Make all the money
    thou canst: if sanctimony and a frail vow betwixt
    an erring barbarian and a supersubtle Venetian not 715
    too hard for my wits and all the tribe of hell, thou
    shalt enjoy her; therefore make money. A pox of
    drowning thyself! it is clean out of the way: seek
    thou rather to be hanged in compassing thy joy than
    to be drowned and go without her. 720
  • Roderigo. Wilt thou be fast to my hopes, if I depend on
    the issue?
  • Iago. Thou art sure of me:—go, make money:—I have told
    thee often, and I re-tell thee again and again, I
    hate the Moor: my cause is hearted; thine hath no 725
    less reason. Let us be conjunctive in our revenge
    against him: if thou canst cuckold him, thou dost
    thyself a pleasure, me a sport. There are many
    events in the womb of time which will be delivered.
    Traverse! go, provide thy money. We will have more 730
    of this to-morrow. Adieu.
  • Roderigo. Where shall we meet i' the morning?
  • Iago. At my lodging.
  • Iago. Go to; farewell. Do you hear, Roderigo? 735
  • Iago. No more of drowning, do you hear?
  • Roderigo. I am changed: I'll go sell all my land.


  • Iago. Thus do I ever make my fool my purse: 740
    For I mine own gain'd knowledge should profane,
    If I would time expend with such a snipe.
    But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor:
    And it is thought abroad, that 'twixt my sheets
    He has done my office: I know not if't be true; 745
    But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,
    Will do as if for surety. He holds me well;
    The better shall my purpose work on him.
    Cassio's a proper man: let me see now:
    To get his place and to plume up my will 750
    In double knavery—How, how? Let's see:—
    After some time, to abuse Othello's ear
    That he is too familiar with his wife.
    He hath a person and a smooth dispose
    To be suspected, framed to make women false. 755
    The Moor is of a free and open nature,
    That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,
    And will as tenderly be led by the nose
    As asses are.
    I have't. It is engender'd. Hell and night 760
    Must bring this monstrous birth to the world's light.