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The Tragedy of Othello, Moor of Venice

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Act II, Scene 3

A hall in the castle.


[Enter OTHELLO, DESDEMONA, CASSIO, and Attendants]

  • Othello. Good Michael, look you to the guard to-night: 1130
    Let's teach ourselves that honourable stop,
    Not to outsport discretion.
  • Cassio. Iago hath direction what to do;
    But, notwithstanding, with my personal eye
    Will I look to't. 1135
  • Othello. Iago is most honest.
    Michael, good night: to-morrow with your earliest
    Let me have speech with you.
    Come, my dear love, 1140
    The purchase made, the fruits are to ensue;
    That profit's yet to come 'tween me and you.
    Good night.

[Exeunt OTHELLO, DESDEMONA, and Attendants]

[Enter IAGO]

  • Cassio. Welcome, Iago; we must to the watch.
  • Iago. Not this hour, lieutenant; 'tis not yet ten o' the
    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 1150
    she is sport for Jove.
  • Cassio. She's a most exquisite lady.
  • Iago. And, I'll warrant her, fun of game.
  • Cassio. Indeed, she's a most fresh and delicate creature.
  • Iago. What an eye she has! methinks it sounds a parley of 1155
  • Cassio. An inviting eye; and yet methinks right modest.
  • Iago. And when she speaks, is it not an alarum to love?
  • Cassio. She is indeed perfection.
  • Iago. Well, happiness to their sheets! Come, lieutenant, I 1160
    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.
  • Cassio. Not to-night, good Iago: I have very poor and
    unhappy brains for drinking: I could well wish 1165
    courtesy would invent some other custom of
  • Iago. O, they are our friends; but one cup: I'll drink for
  • Cassio. I have drunk but one cup to-night, and that was 1170
    craftily qualified too, and, behold, what innovation
    it makes here: I am unfortunate in the infirmity,
    and dare not task my weakness with any more.
  • Iago. What, man! 'tis a night of revels: the gallants
    desire it. 1175
  • Iago. Here at the door; I pray you, call them in.
  • Cassio. I'll do't; but it dislikes me.


  • Iago. If I can fasten but one cup upon him, 1180
    With that which he hath drunk to-night already,
    He'll be as full of quarrel and offence
    As my young mistress' dog. Now, my sick fool Roderigo,
    Whom love hath turn'd almost the wrong side out,
    To Desdemona hath to-night caroused 1185
    Potations pottle-deep; and he's to watch:
    Three lads of Cyprus, noble swelling spirits,
    That hold their honours in a wary distance,
    The very elements of this warlike isle,
    Have I to-night fluster'd with flowing cups, 1190
    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:
    If consequence do but approve my dream,
    My boat sails freely, both with wind and stream. 1195

[Re-enter CASSIO; with him MONTANO and Gentlemen; servants following with wine]

  • Cassio. 'Fore God, they have given me a rouse already.
  • Montano. Good faith, a little one; not past a pint, as I am
    a soldier.
  • Iago. Some wine, ho! 1200
    And let me the canakin clink, clink;
    And let me the canakin clink
    A soldier's a man;
    A life's but a span; 1205
    Why, then, let a soldier drink.
    Some wine, boys!
  • Cassio. 'Fore God, an excellent song.
  • Iago. I learned it in England, where, indeed, they are
    most potent in potting: your Dane, your German, and 1210
    your swag-bellied Hollander—Drink, ho!—are nothing
    to your English.
  • Cassio. Is your Englishman so expert in his drinking?
  • Iago. Why, he drinks you, with facility, your Dane dead
    drunk; he sweats not to overthrow your Almain; he 1215
    gives your Hollander a vomit, ere the next pottle
    can be filled.
  • Cassio. To the health of our general!
  • Montano. I am for it, lieutenant; and I'll do you justice.
  • Iago. O sweet England! 1220
    King Stephen was a worthy peer,
    His breeches cost him but a crown;
    He held them sixpence all too dear,
    With that he call'd the tailor lown.
    He was a wight of high renown, 1225
    And thou art but of low degree:
    'Tis pride that pulls the country down;
    Then take thine auld cloak about thee.
    Some wine, ho!
  • Cassio. Why, this is a more exquisite song than the other. 1230
  • Iago. Will you hear't again?
  • Cassio. No; for I hold him to be unworthy of his place that
    does those things. Well, God's above all; and there
    be souls must be saved, and there be souls must not be saved.
  • Iago. It's true, good lieutenant. 1235
  • Cassio. For mine own part,—no offence to the general, nor
    any man of quality,—I hope to be saved.
  • Iago. And so do I too, lieutenant.
  • Cassio. Ay, but, by your leave, not before me; the
    lieutenant is to be saved before the ancient. Let's 1240
    have no more of this; let's to our affairs.—Forgive
    us our sins!—Gentlemen, let's look to our business.
    Do not think, 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 1245
    speak well enough.
  • All. Excellent well.
  • Cassio. Why, very well then; you must not think then that I am drunk.


  • Montano. To the platform, masters; come, let's set the watch. 1250
  • Iago. You see this fellow that is gone before;
    He is a soldier fit to stand by Caesar
    And give direction: and do but see his vice;
    'Tis to his virtue a just equinox,
    The one as long as the other: 'tis pity of him. 1255
    I fear the trust Othello puts him in.
    On some odd time of his infirmity,
    Will shake this island.
  • Iago. 'Tis evermore the prologue to his sleep: 1260
    He'll watch the horologe a double set,
    If drink rock not his cradle.
  • Montano. It were well
    The general were put in mind of it.
    Perhaps he sees it not; or his good nature 1265
    Prizes the virtue that appears in Cassio,
    And looks not on his evils: is not this true?


  • Iago. [Aside to him] How now, Roderigo!
    I pray you, after the lieutenant; go. 1270


  • Montano. And 'tis great pity that the noble Moor
    Should hazard such a place as his own second
    With one of an ingraft infirmity:
    It were an honest action to say 1275
    So to the Moor.
  • Iago. Not I, for this fair island:
    I do love Cassio well; and would do much
    To cure him of this evil—But, hark! what noise?

[Cry within: 'Help! help!']

[Re-enter CASSIO, driving in RODERIGO]

  • Cassio. You rogue! you rascal!
  • Montano. What's the matter, lieutenant?
  • Cassio. A knave teach me my duty!
    I'll beat the knave into a twiggen bottle. 1285
  • Cassio. Dost thou prate, rogue?

[Striking RODERIGO]

  • Montano. Nay, good lieutenant;
    [Staying him] 1290
    I pray you, sir, hold your hand.
  • Cassio. Let me go, sir,
    Or I'll knock you o'er the mazzard.
  • Montano. Come, come,
    you're drunk. 1295

[They fight]

  • Iago. [Aside to RODERIGO] Away, I say; go out, and cry a mutiny.
    [Exit RODERIGO]
    Nay, good lieutenant,—alas, gentlemen;— 1300
    Help, ho!—Lieutenant,—sir,—Montano,—sir;
    Help, masters!—Here's a goodly watch indeed!
    [Bell rings]
    Who's that which rings the bell?—Diablo, ho!
    The town will rise: God's will, lieutenant, hold! 1305
    You will be shamed for ever.

[Re-enter OTHELLO and Attendants]

  • Montano. 'Zounds, I bleed still; I am hurt to the death.


  • Iago. Hold, ho! Lieutenant,—sir—Montano,—gentlemen,—
    Have you forgot all sense of place and duty?
    Hold! the general speaks to you; hold, hold, for shame!
  • Othello. Why, how now, ho! from whence ariseth this? 1315
    Are we turn'd Turks, and to ourselves do that
    Which 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. 1320
    Silence that dreadful bell: it frights the isle
    From her propriety. What is the matter, masters?
    Honest Iago, that look'st dead with grieving,
    Speak, who began this? on thy love, I charge thee.
  • Iago. I do not know: friends all but now, even now, 1325
    In quarter, and in terms like bride and groom
    Devesting them for bed; and then, but now—
    As if some planet had unwitted men—
    Swords out, and tilting one at other's breast,
    In opposition bloody. I cannot speak 1330
    Any beginning to this peevish odds;
    And would in action glorious I had lost
    Those legs that brought me to a part of it!
  • Othello. How comes it, Michael, you are thus forgot?
  • Cassio. I pray you, pardon me; I cannot speak. 1335
  • Othello. Worthy Montano, you were wont be civil;
    The 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 1340
    And spend your rich opinion for the name
    Of a night-brawler? give me answer to it.
  • Montano. Worthy Othello, I am hurt to danger:
    Your officer, Iago, can inform you,—
    While I spare speech, which something now 1345
    offends me,—
    Of all that I do know: nor know I aught
    By me that's said or done amiss this night;
    Unless self-charity be sometimes a vice,
    And to defend ourselves it be a sin 1350
    When violence assails us.
  • Othello. Now, by heaven,
    My blood begins my safer guides to rule;
    And passion, having my best judgment collied,
    Assays to lead the way: if I once stir, 1355
    Or do but lift this arm, the best of you
    Shall sink in my rebuke. Give me to know
    How this foul rout began, who set it on;
    And he that is approved in this offence,
    Though he had twinn'd with me, both at a birth, 1360
    Shall lose me. What! in a town of war,
    Yet wild, the people's hearts brimful of fear,
    To manage private and domestic quarrel,
    In night, and on the court and guard of safety!
    'Tis monstrous. Iago, who began't? 1365
  • Montano. If partially affined, or leagued in office,
    Thou dost deliver more or less than truth,
    Thou art no soldier.
  • Iago. Touch me not so near:
    I had rather have this tongue cut from my mouth 1370
    Than it should do offence to Michael Cassio;
    Yet, I persuade myself, to speak the truth
    Shall nothing wrong him. Thus it is, general.
    Montano and myself being in speech,
    There comes a fellow crying out for help: 1375
    And Cassio following him with determined sword,
    To execute upon him. Sir, this gentleman
    Steps in to Cassio, and entreats his pause:
    Myself the crying fellow did pursue,
    Lest by his clamour—as it so fell out— 1380
    The town might fall in fright: he, swift of foot,
    Outran my purpose; and I return'd the rather
    For that I heard the clink and fall of swords,
    And Cassio high in oath; which till to-night
    I ne'er might say before. When I came back— 1385
    For this was brief—I found them close together,
    At blow and thrust; even as again they were
    When you yourself did part them.
    More of this matter cannot I report:
    But men are men; the best sometimes forget: 1390
    Though Cassio did some little wrong to him,
    As men in rage strike those that wish them best,
    Yet surely Cassio, I believe, received
    From him that fled some strange indignity,
    Which patience could not pass. 1395
  • Othello. I know, Iago,
    Thy honesty and love doth mince this matter,
    Making it light to Cassio. Cassio, I love thee
    But never more be officer of mine.
    [Re-enter DESDEMONA, attended] 1400
    Look, if my gentle love be not raised up!
    I'll make thee an example.
  • Othello. All's well now, sweeting; come away to bed.
    Sir, for your hurts, myself will be your surgeon: 1405
    Lead him off.
    [To MONTANO, who is led off]
    Iago, look with care about the town,
    And silence those whom this vile brawl distracted.
    Come, Desdemona: 'tis the soldiers' life 1410
    To have their balmy slumbers waked with strife.

[Exeunt all but IAGO and CASSIO]

  • Iago. What, are you hurt, lieutenant?
  • Cassio. Ay, past all surgery.
  • Iago. Marry, heaven forbid! 1415
  • Cassio. Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost
    my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of
    myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation,
    Iago, my reputation!
  • Iago. As I am an honest man, I thought you had received 1420
    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 repute yourself such a loser. What, man! 1425
    there are 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
    offenceless dog to affright an imperious lion: sue
    to him again, and he's yours. 1430
  • Cassio. I will rather sue to be despised than to deceive so
    good a commander with so slight, so drunken, and so
    indiscreet an officer. Drunk? and speak parrot?
    and squabble? swagger? swear? and discourse
    fustian with one's own shadow? O thou invisible 1435
    spirit of wine, if thou hast no name to be known by,
    let us call thee devil!
  • Iago. What was he that you followed with your sword? What
    had he done to you?
  • Iago. Is't possible?
  • Cassio. 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 away
    their brains! that we should, with joy, pleasance 1445
    revel and applause, transform ourselves into beasts!
  • Iago. Why, but you are now well enough: how came you thus
  • Cassio. It hath pleased the devil drunkenness to give place
    to the devil wrath; one unperfectness shows me 1450
    another, to make me frankly despise myself.
  • Iago. 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 it is, mend it for your own good. 1455
  • Cassio. 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! O strange! Every inordinate cup is 1460
    unblessed and the ingredient is a devil.
  • Iago. 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 you.
  • Cassio. I have well approved it, sir. I drunk! 1465
  • Iago. You or any man living may be drunk! at a time, man.
    I'll tell you what you shall do. Our general's wife
    is now the general: may say so in this respect, for
    that he hath devoted and given up himself to the
    contemplation, mark, and denotement of her parts and 1470
    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,
    she holds it a vice in her goodness not to do more
    than she is requested: this broken joint between 1475
    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.
  • Iago. I protest, in the sincerity of love and honest kindness. 1480
  • Cassio. I think it freely; and betimes in the morning I will
    beseech the virtuous Desdemona to undertake for me:
    I am desperate of my fortunes if they cheque me here.
  • Iago. You are in the right. Good night, lieutenant; I
    must to the watch. 1485


  • Iago. 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 1490
    To win the Moor again? For 'tis most easy
    The 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't to renounce his baptism, 1495
    All seals and symbols of redeemed sin,
    His soul is so enfetter'd 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 1500
    To 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 1505
    Plies Desdemona to repair his fortunes
    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, 1510
    She 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.
    [Re-enter RODERIGO] 1515
    How now, Roderigo!
  • 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 to-night exceedingly well
    cudgelled; and I think the issue will be, I shall 1520
    have so much experience for my pains, and so, with
    no money at all and a little more wit, return again to Venice.
  • Iago. How poor are they that have not patience!
    What wound did ever heal but by degrees?
    Thou know'st we work by wit, and not by witchcraft; 1525
    And wit depends on dilatory time.
    Does't not go well? Cassio hath beaten thee.
    And thou, by that small hurt, hast cashier'd Cassio:
    Though other things grow fair against the sun,
    Yet fruits that blossom first will first be ripe: 1530
    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:
    Nay, get thee gone. 1535
    [Exit RODERIGO]
    Two things are to be done:
    My wife must move for Cassio to her mistress;
    I'll set her on;
    Myself the while to draw the Moor apart, 1540
    And bring him jump when he may Cassio find
    Soliciting his wife: ay, that's the way
    Dull not device by coldness and delay.