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The Tragedy of Othello, Moor of Venice

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Act II, Scene 1

A Sea-port in Cyprus. An open place near the quay.


[Enter MONTANO and two Gentlemen]

  • Montano. What from the cape can you discern at sea?
  • First Gentleman. Nothing at all: it is a highwrought flood; 765
    I cannot, 'twixt the heaven and the main,
    Descry a sail.
  • Montano. Methinks the wind hath spoke aloud at land;
    A fuller blast ne'er shook our battlements:
    If it hath ruffian'd so upon the sea, 770
    What ribs of oak, when mountains melt on them,
    Can hold the mortise? What shall we hear of this?
  • Second Gentleman. A segregation of the Turkish fleet:
    For do but stand upon the foaming shore,
    The chidden billow seems to pelt the clouds; 775
    The wind-shaked surge, with high and monstrous mane,
    seems to cast water on the burning bear,
    And quench the guards of the ever-fixed pole:
    I never did like molestation view
    On the enchafed flood. 780
  • Montano. If that the Turkish fleet
    Be not enshelter'd and embay'd, they are drown'd:
    It is impossible they bear it out.

[Enter a third Gentleman]

  • Third Gentleman. News, lads! our wars are done. 785
    The desperate tempest hath so bang'd the Turks,
    That their designment halts: a noble ship of Venice
    Hath seen a grievous wreck and sufferance
    On most part of their fleet.
  • Third Gentleman. The ship is here put in,
    A Veronesa; Michael Cassio,
    Lieutenant to the warlike Moor Othello,
    Is come on shore: the Moor himself at sea,
    And is in full commission here for Cyprus. 795
  • Montano. I am glad on't; 'tis a worthy governor.
  • Third Gentleman. But this same Cassio, though he speak of comfort
    Touching the Turkish loss, yet he looks sadly,
    And prays the Moor be safe; for they were parted
    With foul and violent tempest. 800
  • Montano. Pray heavens he be;
    For I have served him, and the man commands
    Like a full soldier. Let's to the seaside, ho!
    As well to see the vessel that's come in
    As to throw out our eyes for brave Othello, 805
    Even till we make the main and the aerial blue
    An indistinct regard.
  • Third Gentleman. Come, let's do so:
    For every minute is expectancy
    Of more arrivance. 810

[Enter CASSIO]

  • Cassio. Thanks, you the valiant of this warlike isle,
    That so approve the Moor! O, let the heavens
    Give him defence against the elements,
    For I have lost us him on a dangerous sea. 815
  • Cassio. His bark is stoutly timber'd, his pilot
    Of very expert and approved allowance;
    Therefore my hopes, not surfeited to death,
    Stand in bold cure. 820

[A cry within 'A sail, a sail, a sail!']

[Enter a fourth Gentleman]

  • Fourth Gentleman. The town is empty; on the brow o' the sea
    Stand ranks of people, and they cry 'A sail!' 825
  • Cassio. My hopes do shape him for the governor.

[Guns heard]

  • Second Gentleman. They do discharge their shot of courtesy:
    Our friends at least.
  • Cassio. I pray you, sir, go forth, 830
    And give us truth who 'tis that is arrived.


  • Montano. But, good lieutenant, is your general wived?
  • Cassio. Most fortunately: he hath achieved a maid 835
    That paragons description and wild fame;
    One that excels the quirks of blazoning pens,
    And in the essential vesture of creation
    Does tire the ingener.
    [Re-enter second Gentleman] 840
    How now! who has put in?
  • Cassio. Has had most favourable and happy speed:
    Tempests themselves, high seas, and howling winds,
    The gutter'd rocks and congregated sands— 845
    Traitors ensteep'd to clog the guiltless keel,—
    As having sense of beauty, do omit
    Their mortal natures, letting go safely by
    The divine Desdemona.
  • Cassio. She that I spake of, our great captain's captain,
    Left in the conduct of the bold Iago,
    Whose footing here anticipates our thoughts
    A se'nnight's speed. Great Jove, Othello guard,
    And swell his sail with thine own powerful breath, 855
    That he may bless this bay with his tall ship,
    Make love's quick pants in Desdemona's arms,
    Give renew'd fire to our extincted spirits
    And bring all Cyprus comfort!
    [Enter DESDEMONA, EMILIA, IAGO, RODERIGO, and Attendants] 860
    O, behold,
    The riches of the ship is come on shore!
    Ye men of Cyprus, let her have your knees.
    Hail to thee, lady! and the grace of heaven,
    Before, behind thee, and on every hand, 865
    Enwheel thee round!
  • Desdemona. I thank you, valiant Cassio.
    What tidings can you tell me of my lord?
  • Cassio. He is not yet arrived: nor know I aught
    But that he's well and will be shortly here. 870
  • Desdemona. O, but I fear—How lost you company?
  • Cassio. The great contention of the sea and skies
    Parted our fellowship—But, hark! a sail.

[Within 'A sail, a sail!' Guns heard]

  • Second Gentleman. They give their greeting to the citadel; 875
    This likewise is a friend.
  • Cassio. See for the news.
    [Exit Gentleman]
    Good ancient, you are welcome.
    [To EMILIA] 880
    Welcome, mistress.
    Let it not gall your patience, good Iago,
    That I extend my manners; 'tis my breeding
    That gives me this bold show of courtesy.

[Kissing her]

  • Iago. Sir, would she give you so much of her lips
    As of her tongue she oft bestows on me,
    You'll have enough.
  • Iago. In faith, too much; 890
    I find it still, when I have list to sleep:
    Marry, before your ladyship, I grant,
    She puts her tongue a little in her heart,
    And chides with thinking.
  • Emilia. You have little cause to say so. 895
  • Iago. Come on, come on; you are pictures out of doors,
    Bells in your parlors, wild-cats in your kitchens,
    Saints m your injuries, devils being offended,
    Players in your housewifery, and housewives' in your beds.
  • Iago. Nay, it is true, or else I am a Turk:
    You rise to play and go to bed to work.
  • Emilia. You shall not write my praise.
  • Iago. No, let me not.
  • Desdemona. What wouldst thou write of me, if thou shouldst 905
    praise me?
  • Iago. O gentle lady, do not put me to't;
    For I am nothing, if not critical.
  • Desdemona. Come on assay. There's one gone to the harbour?
  • Iago. Ay, madam. 910
  • Desdemona. I am not merry; but I do beguile
    The thing I am, by seeming otherwise.
    Come, how wouldst thou praise me?
  • Iago. I am about it; but indeed my invention
    Comes from my pate as birdlime does from frize; 915
    It plucks out brains and all: but my Muse labours,
    And thus she is deliver'd.
    If she be fair and wise, fairness and wit,
    The one's for use, the other useth it.
  • Desdemona. Well praised! How if she be black and witty? 920
  • Iago. If she be black, and thereto have a wit,
    She'll find a white that shall her blackness fit.
  • Emilia. How if fair and foolish?
  • Iago. She never yet was foolish that was fair; 925
    For even her folly help'd her to an heir.
  • Desdemona. These are old fond paradoxes to make fools laugh i'
    the alehouse. What miserable praise hast thou for
    her that's foul and foolish?
  • Iago. There's none so foul and foolish thereunto, 930
    But does foul pranks which fair and wise ones do.
  • Desdemona. O heavy ignorance! thou praisest the worst best.
    But what praise couldst thou bestow on a deserving
    woman indeed, one that, in the authority of her
    merit, did justly put on the vouch of very malice itself? 935
  • Iago. She that was ever fair and never proud,
    Had tongue at will and yet was never loud,
    Never lack'd gold and yet went never gay,
    Fled from her wish and yet said 'Now I may,'
    She that being anger'd, her revenge being nigh, 940
    Bade her wrong stay and her displeasure fly,
    She that in wisdom never was so frail
    To change the cod's head for the salmon's tail;
    She that could think and ne'er disclose her mind,
    See suitors following and not look behind, 945
    She was a wight, if ever such wight were,—
  • Iago. To suckle fools and chronicle small beer.
  • Desdemona. O most lame and impotent conclusion! Do not learn
    of him, Emilia, though he be thy husband. How say 950
    you, Cassio? is he not a most profane and liberal
  • Cassio. He speaks home, madam: You may relish him more in
    the soldier than in the scholar.
  • Iago. [Aside] He takes her by the palm: ay, well said, 955
    whisper: with as little a web as this will I
    ensnare as great a fly as Cassio. Ay, smile upon
    her, do; I will gyve thee in thine own courtship.
    You say true; 'tis so, indeed: if such tricks as
    these strip you out of your lieutenantry, it had 960
    been better you had not kissed your three fingers so
    oft, which now again you are most apt to play the
    sir in. Very good; well kissed! an excellent
    courtesy! 'tis so, indeed. Yet again your fingers
    to your lips? would they were clyster-pipes for your sake! 965
    [Trumpet within]
    The Moor! I know his trumpet.
  • Cassio. Lo, where he comes! 970

[Enter OTHELLO and Attendants]

  • Othello. It gives me wonder great as my content
    To see you here before me. O my soul's joy! 975
    If after every tempest come such calms,
    May the winds blow till they have waken'd death!
    And let the labouring bark climb hills of seas
    Olympus-high and duck again as low
    As hell's from heaven! If it were now to die, 980
    'Twere now to be most happy; for, I fear,
    My soul hath her content so absolute
    That not another comfort like to this
    Succeeds in unknown fate.
  • Desdemona. The heavens forbid 985
    But that our loves and comforts should increase,
    Even as our days do grow!
  • Othello. Amen to that, sweet powers!
    I cannot speak enough of this content;
    It stops me here; it is too much of joy: 990
    And this, and this, the greatest discords be
    [Kissing her]
    That e'er our hearts shall make!
  • Iago. [Aside] O, you are well tuned now!
    But I'll set down the pegs that make this music, 995
    As honest as I am.
  • Othello. Come, let us to the castle.
    News, friends; our wars are done, the Turks
    are drown'd.
    How does my old acquaintance of this isle? 1000
    Honey, you shall be well desired in Cyprus;
    I have found great love amongst them. O my sweet,
    I prattle out of fashion, and I dote
    In mine own comforts. I prithee, good Iago,
    Go to the bay and disembark my coffers: 1005
    Bring thou the master to the citadel;
    He is a good one, and his worthiness
    Does challenge much respect. Come, Desdemona,
    Once more, well met at Cyprus.

[Exeunt OTHELLO, DESDEMONA, and Attendants]

  • Iago. Do thou meet me presently at the harbour. Come
    hither. If thou be'st valiant,— as, they say, base
    men being in love have then a nobility in their
    natures more than is native to them—list me. The
    lieutenant tonight watches on the court of 1015
    guard:—first, I must tell thee this—Desdemona is
    directly in love with him.
  • Roderigo. With him! why, 'tis not possible.
  • Iago. Lay thy finger thus, and let thy soul be instructed.
    Mark me with what violence she first loved the Moor, 1020
    but for bragging and telling her fantastical lies:
    and will she love him still for prating? let not
    thy discreet heart think it. Her eye must be fed;
    and what delight shall she have to look on the
    devil? When the blood is made dull with the act of 1025
    sport, there should be, again to inflame it and to
    give satiety a fresh appetite, loveliness in favour,
    sympathy in years, manners and beauties; all which
    the Moor is defective in: now, for want of these
    required conveniences, her delicate tenderness will 1030
    find itself abused, begin to heave the gorge,
    disrelish and abhor the Moor; very nature will
    instruct her in it and compel her to some second
    choice. Now, sir, this granted,—as it is a most
    pregnant and unforced position—who stands so 1035
    eminent in the degree of this fortune as Cassio
    does? a knave very voluble; no further
    conscionable than in putting on the mere form of
    civil and humane seeming, for the better compassing
    of his salt and most hidden loose affection? why, 1040
    none; why, none: a slipper and subtle knave, a
    finder of occasions, that has an eye can stamp and
    counterfeit advantages, though true advantage never
    present itself; a devilish knave. Besides, the
    knave is handsome, young, and hath all those 1045
    requisites in him that folly and green minds look
    after: a pestilent complete knave; and the woman
    hath found him already.
  • Roderigo. I cannot believe that in her; she's full of
    most blessed condition. 1050
  • Iago. Blessed fig's-end! the wine she drinks is made of
    grapes: if she had been blessed, she would never
    have loved the Moor. Blessed pudding! Didst thou
    not see her paddle with the palm of his hand? didst
    not mark that? 1055
  • Roderigo. Yes, that I did; but that was but courtesy.
  • Iago. Lechery, by this hand; an index and obscure prologue
    to the history of lust and foul thoughts. They met
    so near with their lips that their breaths embraced
    together. Villanous thoughts, Roderigo! when these 1060
    mutualities so marshal the way, hard at hand comes
    the master and main exercise, the incorporate
    conclusion, Pish! But, sir, be you ruled by me: I
    have brought you from Venice. Watch you to-night;
    for the command, I'll lay't upon you. Cassio knows 1065
    you not. I'll not be far from you: do you find
    some occasion to anger Cassio, either by speaking
    too loud, or tainting his discipline; or from what
    other course you please, which the time shall more
    favourably minister. 1070
  • Iago. Sir, he is rash and very sudden in choler, and haply
    may strike at you: provoke him, that he may; for
    even out of that will I cause these of Cyprus to
    mutiny; whose qualification shall come into no true 1075
    taste again but by the displanting of Cassio. So
    shall you have a shorter journey to your desires by
    the means I shall then have to prefer them; and the
    impediment most profitably removed, without the
    which there were no expectation of our prosperity. 1080
  • Roderigo. I will do this, if I can bring it to any
  • Iago. I warrant thee. Meet me by and by at the citadel:
    I must fetch his necessaries ashore. Farewell.


  • Iago. That Cassio loves her, I do well believe it;
    That she loves him, 'tis apt and of great credit:
    The Moor, howbeit that I endure him not,
    Is of a constant, loving, noble nature, 1090
    And I dare think he'll prove to Desdemona
    A most dear husband. Now, I do love her too;
    Not out of absolute lust, though peradventure
    I stand accountant for as great a sin,
    But partly led to diet my revenge, 1095
    For that I do suspect the lusty Moor
    Hath leap'd into my seat; the thought whereof
    Doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw my inwards;
    And nothing can or shall content my soul
    Till I am even'd with him, wife for wife, 1100
    Or failing so, yet that I put the Moor
    At least into a jealousy so strong
    That judgment cannot cure. Which thing to do,
    If this poor trash of Venice, whom I trash
    For his quick hunting, stand the putting on, 1105
    I'll have our Michael Cassio on the hip,
    Abuse him to the Moor in the rank garb—
    For I fear Cassio with my night-cap too—
    Make the Moor thank me, love me and reward me.
    For making him egregiously an ass 1110
    And practising upon his peace and quiet
    Even to madness. 'Tis here, but yet confused:
    Knavery's plain face is never seen tin used.