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The Tragedy of Othello, Moor of Venice

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Act IV, Scene 1

Cyprus. Before the castle.


[Enter OTHELLO and IAGO]

  • Iago. Will you think so?
  • Iago. What,
    To kiss in private?
  • Iago. Or to be naked with her friend in bed
    An hour or more, not meaning any harm? 2415
  • Othello. Naked in bed, Iago, and not mean harm!
    It is hypocrisy against the devil:
    They that mean virtuously, and yet do so,
    The devil their virtue tempts, and they tempt heaven.
  • Iago. So they do nothing, 'tis a venial slip: 2420
    But if I give my wife a handkerchief,—
  • Iago. Why, then, 'tis hers, my lord; and, being hers,
    She may, I think, bestow't on any man.
  • Othello. She is protectress of her honour too: 2425
    May she give that?
  • Iago. Her honour is an essence that's not seen;
    They have it very oft that have it not:
    But, for the handkerchief,—
  • Othello. By heaven, I would most gladly have forgot it. 2430
    Thou said'st, it comes o'er my memory,
    As doth the raven o'er the infected house,
    Boding to all—he had my handkerchief.
  • Iago. Ay, what of that?
  • Othello. That's not so good now. 2435
  • Iago. What,
    If I had said I had seen him do you wrong?
    Or heard him say,—as knaves be such abroad,
    Who having, by their own importunate suit,
    Or voluntary dotage of some mistress, 2440
    Convinced or supplied them, cannot choose
    But they must blab—
  • Iago. He hath, my lord; but be you well assured,
    No more than he'll unswear. 2445
  • Iago. 'Faith, that he did—I know not what he did.
  • Iago. With her, on her; what you will.
  • Othello. Lie with her! lie on her! We say lie on her, when
    they belie her. Lie with her! that's fulsome.
    confess, and be hanged for his labour;—first, to be 2455
    hanged, and then to confess.—I tremble at it.
    Nature would not invest herself in such shadowing
    passion without some instruction. It is not words
    that shake me thus. Pish! Noses, ears, and lips.
    —Is't possible?—Confess—handkerchief!—O devil!— 2460

[Falls in a trance]

  • Iago. Work on,
    My medicine, work! Thus credulous fools are caught;
    And many worthy and chaste dames even thus,
    All guiltless, meet reproach. What, ho! my lord! 2465
    My lord, I say! Othello!
    [Enter CASSIO]
    How now, Cassio!
  • Iago. My lord is fall'n into an epilepsy: 2470
    This is his second fit; he had one yesterday.
  • Cassio. Rub him about the temples.
  • Iago. No, forbear;
    The lethargy must have his quiet course:
    If not, he foams at mouth and by and by 2475
    Breaks out to savage madness. Look he stirs:
    Do you withdraw yourself a little while,
    He will recover straight: when he is gone,
    I would on great occasion speak with you.
    [Exit CASSIO] 2480
    How is it, general? have you not hurt your head?
  • Iago. I mock you! no, by heaven.
    Would you would bear your fortune like a man!
  • Othello. A horned man's a monster and a beast. 2485
  • Iago. There's many a beast then in a populous city,
    And many a civil monster.
  • Iago. Good sir, be a man;
    Think every bearded fellow that's but yoked 2490
    May draw with you: there's millions now alive
    That nightly lie in those unproper beds
    Which they dare swear peculiar: your case is better.
    O, 'tis the spite of hell, the fiend's arch-mock,
    To lip a wanton in a secure couch, 2495
    And to suppose her chaste! No, let me know;
    And knowing what I am, I know what she shall be.
  • Othello. O, thou art wise; 'tis certain.
  • Iago. Stand you awhile apart;
    Confine yourself but in a patient list. 2500
    Whilst you were here o'erwhelmed with your grief—
    A passion most unsuiting such a man—
    Cassio came hither: I shifted him away,
    And laid good 'scuse upon your ecstasy,
    Bade him anon return and here speak with me; 2505
    The which he promised. Do but encave yourself,
    And mark the fleers, the gibes, and notable scorns,
    That dwell in every region of his face;
    For I will make him tell the tale anew,
    Where, how, how oft, how long ago, and when 2510
    He hath, and is again to cope your wife:
    I say, but mark his gesture. Marry, patience;
    Or I shall say you are all in all in spleen,
    And nothing of a man.
  • Othello. Dost thou hear, Iago? 2515
    I will be found most cunning in my patience;
    But—dost thou hear?—most bloody.
  • Iago. That's not amiss;
    But yet keep time in all. Will you withdraw?
    [OTHELLO retires] 2520
    Now will I question Cassio of Bianca,
    A housewife that by selling her desires
    Buys herself bread and clothes: it is a creature
    That dotes on Cassio; as 'tis the strumpet's plague
    To beguile many and be beguiled by one: 2525
    He, when he hears of her, cannot refrain
    From the excess of laughter. Here he comes:
    [Re-enter CASSIO]
    As he shall smile, Othello shall go mad;
    And his unbookish jealousy must construe 2530
    Poor Cassio's smiles, gestures and light behavior,
    Quite in the wrong. How do you now, lieutenant?
  • Cassio. The worser that you give me the addition
    Whose want even kills me.
  • Iago. Ply Desdemona well, and you are sure on't. 2535
    [Speaking lower]
    Now, if this suit lay in Bianco's power,
    How quickly should you speed!
  • Othello. Look, how he laughs already! 2540
  • Iago. I never knew woman love man so.
  • Cassio. Alas, poor rogue! I think, i' faith, she loves me.
  • Othello. Now he denies it faintly, and laughs it out.
  • Iago. Do you hear, Cassio?
  • Othello. Now he importunes him 2545
    To tell it o'er: go to; well said, well said.
  • Iago. She gives it out that you shall marry hey:
    Do you intend it?
  • Othello. Do you triumph, Roman? do you triumph? 2550
  • Cassio. I marry her! what? a customer! Prithee, bear some
    charity to my wit: do not think it so unwholesome.
    Ha, ha, ha!
  • Othello. So, so, so, so: they laugh that win.
  • Iago. 'Faith, the cry goes that you shall marry her. 2555
  • Iago. I am a very villain else.
  • Othello. Have you scored me? Well.
  • Cassio. This is the monkey's own giving out: she is
    persuaded I will marry her, out of her own love and 2560
    flattery, not out of my promise.
  • Othello. Iago beckons me; now he begins the story.
  • Cassio. She was here even now; she haunts me in every place.
    I was the other day talking on the sea-bank with
    certain Venetians; and thither comes the bauble, 2565
    and, by this hand, she falls me thus about my neck—
  • Othello. Crying 'O dear Cassio!' as it were: his gesture
    imports it.
  • Cassio. So hangs, and lolls, and weeps upon me; so hales,
    and pulls me: ha, ha, ha! 2570
  • Othello. Now he tells how she plucked him to my chamber. O,
    I see that nose of yours, but not that dog I shall
    throw it to.
  • Cassio. Well, I must leave her company.
  • Iago. Before me! look, where she comes. 2575
  • Cassio. 'Tis such another fitchew! marry a perfumed one.
    [Enter BIANCA]
    What do you mean by this haunting of me?
  • Bianca. Let the devil and his dam haunt you! What did you
    mean by that same handkerchief you gave me even now? 2580
    I was a fine fool to take it. I must take out the
    work?—A likely piece of work, that you should find
    it in your chamber, and not know who left it there!
    This is some minx's token, and I must take out the
    work? There; give it your hobby-horse: wheresoever 2585
    you had it, I'll take out no work on't.
  • Cassio. How now, my sweet Bianca! how now! how now!
  • Othello. By heaven, that should be my handkerchief!
  • Bianca. An you'll come to supper to-night, you may; an you
    will not, come when you are next prepared for. 2590


  • Iago. After her, after her.
  • Cassio. 'Faith, I must; she'll rail in the street else.
  • Iago. Will you sup there?
  • Cassio. 'Faith, I intend so. 2595
  • Iago. Well, I may chance to see you; for I would very fain
    speak with you.
  • Cassio. Prithee, come; will you?
  • Iago. Go to; say no more.


  • Othello. [Advancing] How shall I murder him, Iago?
  • Iago. Did you perceive how he laughed at his vice?
  • Iago. And did you see the handkerchief?
  • Iago. Yours by this hand: and to see how he prizes the
    foolish woman your wife! she gave it him, and he
    hath given it his whore.
  • Othello. I would have him nine years a-killing.
    A fine woman! a fair woman! a sweet woman! 2610
  • Iago. Nay, you must forget that.
  • Othello. Ay, let her rot, and perish, and be damned to-night;
    for she shall not live: no, my heart is turned to
    stone; I strike it, and it hurts my hand. O, the
    world hath not a sweeter creature: she might lie by 2615
    an emperor's side and command him tasks.
  • Iago. Nay, that's not your way.
  • Othello. Hang her! I do but say what she is: so delicate
    with her needle: an admirable musician: O! she
    will sing the savageness out of a bear: of so high 2620
    and plenteous wit and invention:—
  • Iago. She's the worse for all this.
  • Othello. O, a thousand thousand times: and then, of so
    gentle a condition!
  • Iago. Ay, too gentle. 2625
  • Othello. Nay, that's certain: but yet the pity of it, Iago!
    O Iago, the pity of it, Iago!
  • Iago. If you are so fond over her iniquity, give her
    patent to offend; for, if it touch not you, it comes
    near nobody. 2630
  • Othello. I will chop her into messes: cuckold me!
  • Iago. O, 'tis foul in her.
  • Iago. That's fouler.
  • Othello. Get me some poison, Iago; this night: I'll not 2635
    expostulate with her, lest her body and beauty
    unprovide my mind again: this night, Iago.
  • Iago. Do it not with poison, strangle her in her bed, even
    the bed she hath contaminated.
  • Othello. Good, good: the justice of it pleases: very good. 2640
  • Iago. And for Cassio, let me be his undertaker: you
    shall hear more by midnight.
  • Othello. Excellent good.
    [A trumpet within]
    What trumpet is that same? 2645
  • Iago. Something from Venice, sure. 'Tis Lodovico
    Come from the duke: and, see, your wife is with him.

[Enter LODOVICO, DESDEMONA, and Attendants]

  • Othello. With all my heart, sir. 2650
  • Lodovico. The duke and senators of Venice greet you.

[Gives him a letter]

  • Othello. I kiss the instrument of their pleasures.

[Opens the letter, and reads]

  • Desdemona. And what's the news, good cousin Lodovico? 2655
  • Iago. I am very glad to see you, signior
    Welcome to Cyprus.
  • Lodovico. I thank you. How does Lieutenant Cassio?
  • Desdemona. Cousin, there's fall'n between him and my lord 2660
    An unkind breach: but you shall make all well.
  • Othello. [Reads] 'This fail you not to do, as you will—'
  • Lodovico. He did not call; he's busy in the paper. 2665
    Is there division 'twixt my lord and Cassio?
  • Desdemona. A most unhappy one: I would do much
    To atone them, for the love I bear to Cassio.
  • Lodovico. May be the letter moved him;
    For, as I think, they do command him home,
    Deputing Cassio in his government. 2675
  • Othello. I am glad to see you mad.
  • Lodovico. My lord, this would not be believed in Venice,
    Though I should swear I saw't: 'tis very much:
    Make her amends; she weeps. 2685
  • Othello. O devil, devil!
    If that the earth could teem with woman's tears,
    Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile.
    Out of my sight!
  • Desdemona. I will not stay to offend you. 2690


  • Lodovico. Truly, an obedient lady:
    I do beseech your lordship, call her back.
  • Othello. What would you with her, sir?
  • Othello. Ay; you did wish that I would make her turn:
    Sir, she can turn, and turn, and yet go on,
    And turn again; and she can weep, sir, weep; 2700
    And she's obedient, as you say, obedient,
    Very obedient. Proceed you in your tears.
    Concerning this, sir,—O well-painted passion!—
    I am commanded home. Get you away;
    I'll send for you anon. Sir, I obey the mandate, 2705
    And will return to Venice. Hence, avaunt!
    [Exit DESDEMONA]
    Cassio shall have my place. And, sir, tonight,
    I do entreat that we may sup together:
    You are welcome, sir, to Cyprus.—Goats and monkeys! 2710


  • Lodovico. Is this the noble Moor whom our full senate
    Call all in all sufficient? Is this the nature
    Whom passion could not shake? whose solid virtue
    The shot of accident, nor dart of chance, 2715
    Could neither graze nor pierce?
  • Iago. He is much changed.
  • Lodovico. Are his wits safe? is he not light of brain?
  • Iago. He's that he is: I may not breathe my censure
    What he might be: if what he might he is not, 2720
    I would to heaven he were!
  • Iago. 'Faith, that was not so well; yet would I knew
    That stroke would prove the worst!
  • Lodovico. Is it his use? 2725
    Or did the letters work upon his blood,
    And new-create this fault?
  • Iago. Alas, alas!
    It is not honesty in me to speak
    What I have seen and known. You shall observe him, 2730
    And his own courses will denote him so
    That I may save my speech: do but go after,
    And mark how he continues.
  • Lodovico. I am sorry that I am deceived in him.