What Othello is Called

In the first scene of the play, Roderigo, Iago, and Brabantio all refer to Othello only as "the Moor." The first occurrence is in Iago's speech about how Othello denied him promotion to lieutenant. At the end of the speech, Iago sarcastically comments that the undeserving Cassio got the job, while he has to remain as "his Moorship's ancient [ensign] " (1.1.33). "His worship," is a term of respect, so Iago's pun, "Moorship," mocks both Othello's race and his character. Iago goes on to pose an ironical question to Roderigo: "Now, sir, be judge yourself, / Whether I in any just term am affined [required] / To love the Moor" (1.1.38-40). When Roderigo asks if Iago is still working for Othello, Iago explains that he's not doing it out of loyalty to Othello, because "It is as sure as you are Roderigo, / Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago" (1.1.56-57). This is a little puzzling, but it seems to mean that if he had Othello's position as general of the Venetian army, he wouldn't have to pretend to be a loyal follower of anyone

Later, when Iago and Roderigo are trying to get Brabantio angry over the elopement of Othello and Desdemona, Iago shouts out, "I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs" (1.1.115-117). A moment later Roderigo does his part to emphasize the dangerous sexuality of Othello; he tells Brabantio that his daughter has fled "To the gross clasps of a lascivious Moor" (1.1.126).

The plan to get Brabantio angry succeeds, but when Brabantio goes to get together a posse to go after Othello, Iago does not join it. He tells Roderigo, "It seems not meet, nor wholesome to my place, / To be produced [brought forth as a witness] -- as, if I stay, I shall -- / Against the Moor" (1.1.145-147), and he sneaks off to pretend to be Othello's loyal ensign.

As Brabantio and Roderigo set off to gather the posse, Brabantio asks Roderigo if Desdemona is "With the Moor, say'st thou?" (1.1.164). Then, after more exclamations of outrage, Brabantio asks if Roderigo knows "Where we may apprehend her and the Moor?" (1.1.177). [Scene Summary]

Standing with Othello before the inn at which Othello and Desdemona are spending their first night, Iago tries to make Othello panic by warning him that Brabantio will try to take Desdemona from him. He says, "But, I pray you, sir, / Are you fast married?" (1.2.10-11). A few minutes later, Cassio appears and says to Othello, "The duke does greet you, general, / And he requires your haste-post-haste appearance, / Even on the instant" (1.2.36-38). Othello goes into the inn for a moment. When he comes back out Iago asks him if he's ready to go, saying "Come, captain, will you go?" (1.2.53). Othello is not a captain, but he is Iago's captain -- we might say "boss." Just then Brabantio and his group of armed men appear. Roderigo, by Brabantio's side, and out of Othello's earshot, says to Brabantio, "Signior, it is the Moor" (1.2.57). Brabantio cries out to Othello, "O thou foul thief, where hast thou stow'd my daughter?" (1.2.62). [Scene Summary]

When Brabantio and Othello enter the Senate chamber, a senator sees them and tells the Duke, "Here comes Brabantio and the valiant Moor" (1.3.47). The Duke, who needs Othello to deal with the crisis in Cyprus, immediately goes to greet Othello, saying "Valiant Othello, we must straight employ you / Against the general enemy Ottoman" (1.3.48-49). Brabantio then pours out his grief over the loss of his daughter. When the Duke asks him who is the culprit, Brabantio answers, "Here is the man, this Moor" (1.3.71). After Brabantio repeats his charges, First Senator asks for Othello's answer, saying, "But, Othello, speak" (1.3.110). Othello says that he will tell the whole story of his love, but first asks that Desdemona be sent for. The Duke does that, then asks for Othello's story, saying, "Say it, Othello" (1.3.127).

When Desdemona arrives she proclaims her duty to her husband, "the Moor, my lord" (1.3.189). Hearing this, Brabantio says, "Come hither, Moor" (1.3.192), and angrily gives his daughter to Othello. The Duke tries to get Brabantio to be more accepting, but fails, then turns to the problem in Cyprus, saying, "Othello, the fortitude of the place is best known to you" (1.3.222-223).

Othello asks for a place for Desdemona to stay while he is in Cyprus, but Desdemona asks permission to go with her husband, saying, "That I did love the Moor to live with him, / My downright violence and storm of fortunes / May trumpet to the world" (1.3.248-250), and then, "My heart's subdued / Even to the very quality of my lord: / I saw Othello's visage in his mind" (1.3.250-252).

After it's settled that Desdemona will follow Othello to Cyprus, the Duke says, "Othello, leave some officer behind" (1.3.280), because there has to be a messenger to deliver Othello's official orders. As everyone is leaving the Senate chamber, First Senator bids farewell to Othello, saying, "Adieu, brave Moor, use Desdemona well" (1.3.291). ("Brave" means "handsome" as well as "courageous.") Brabantio also bids Othello and Desdemona farewell, but in a very bitter way. He says, "Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see: / She has deceived her father, and may thee" (1.3.292-293).

After everyone else has left, Iago convinces Roderigo that he still has a chance with Desdemona, because "It cannot be that Desdemona should long continue her love to the Moor" (1.3.341-343), and "These Moors are changeable in their wills" (1.3.346-347). Besides, "I hate the Moor" (1.3.365-366), Iago reminds Roderigo, so Roderigo can be sure to have Iago's help. After Roderigo is gone, Iago repeats "I hate the Moor" (1.3.386) to himself and hatches his plan to "abuse Othello's ear / That he [Cassio] is too familiar with his wife" (1.3.395-396). He thinks the plan will work because "The Moor is of a free and open nature, / That thinks men honest that but seem to be so" (1.3.399-400). [Scene Summary]

As Montano and two gentlemen of Cyprus are wondering if the great storm will blow away the Turkish threat, another gentleman comes in with the news that a ship has arrived from Venice. The third gentleman says, "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" (2.1.26-29). Montano is glad of the news because he believes Othello will be a worthy governor of Cyprus, but the gentleman says that Cassio is worried about Othello's safety at sea, so that he "he looks sadly, / And prays the Moor be safe" (2.1.32-33). Montano then proposes that they all go down to the seaside "to throw out our eyes for brave Othello" (2.1.38). However, at that moment Cassio enters, saying, "Thanks, you the valiant of this warlike isle, / That so approve the Moor!" (2.1.43-44). Moments later, they all hear a shout announcing the arrival of another ship. Cassio says, "My hopes do shape him for the governor" (2.1.55). He's saying that he hopes the ship carries Othello, the new governor of the island. Then, when it turns out that the new arrival is the ship carrying Desdemona and Iago, Cassio describes her as "our great captain's captain" (2.1.74) and prays, "Great Jove, Othello guard, / And swell his sail with thine own powerful breath" (2.1.77-78).

When Desdemona comes on shore, she immediately asks Cassio, "What tidings can you tell me of my lord?" (2.1.88), and when he arrives, she greets him as "My dear Othello!" (2.1.182).

At the end of the scene Iago tells Roderigo that Desdemona "first loved the Moor, but for bragging and telling her fantastical lies" (2.1.222-223), and refers to Othello as "the Moor" throughout the rest of the scene, both to Roderigo and in his soliloquy at the end of the scene. [Scene Summary]

In a very brief scene following everyone's arrival in Cyprus, a herald announces to the people of Cyprus that "It is Othello's pleasure, our noble and valiant general, that, upon certain tidings now arrived, importing the mere perdition of the Turkish fleet, every man put himself into triumph" (2.2.1-4). The herald ends his proclamation by saying, "Heaven bless the isle of Cyprus and our noble general Othello!" (2.2.11-12). Though Othello must have ordered the proclamation, it doesn't seem likely that he would have ordered the herald to call him "noble" and "valiant." [Scene Summary]

In the scene in which Iago gets Cassio drunk, Iago tells him that they have time to enjoy themselves before they go on watch. He comments, "Our general cast us [left us] thus early for the love of his Desdemona" (2.3.14-15). A little later, encouraging Cassio to have a drink, Iago says that Cassio should join a group of "Cyprus gallants that would fain have a measure to the health of black Othello" (2.3.31-32). Cassio is Othello's friend, and Iago is supposed to be Othello's friend, so it seems unlikely that Iago means Cassio to hear "black" as an insult.

After Cassio has gotten drunk and gone on guard duty, Iago tells Montano that Cassio gets drunk every night, and adds, "I fear the trust Othello puts him in" (2.3.126). Montano, an admirer of Othello, is concerned and says, "It were well / The general were put in mind of it" (2.3.131-132). He also says, "'tis great pity that the noble Moor / Should hazard such a place as his own second / With one of an ingraft infirmity" (2.3.138-140). Montano thinks that Othello should be told that Cassio is a drunk, that "It were an honest action to say / So to the Moor" (2.3.141-142).

Later, after the fight with Cassio, Othello asks Montano what happened, and Montano begins his answer by saying, "Worthy Othello, I am hurt to danger" (2.3.197).

After Cassio has been fired, Iago tells him that it won't be hard to get back into Othello's good graces. He says, "What, man, there are ways to recover the general again" (2.3.271-272). Cassio replies by expressing shame that he has betrayed the trust of "so good a commander" (2.3.277-278), but Iago keeps pressing his point, and tells him that he ought to approach Desdemona, because "Our general's wife is now the general" (2.3.314-315).

After he has persuaded Cassio to take his advice, Iago, in a soliloquy, refers to Othello only as "the Moor." [Scene Summary]

The morning after he loses his job, Cassio tries to soften up Othello by having some musicians play in front of his residence. Cassio instructs the musicians to play "Something that's brief; and bid "Good morrow, general" (3.1.2). However, a servant of Othello tells them that "to hear music the general does not greatly care" (3.1.16-17), and sends them away. Cassio then asks to speak with Emilia, "the gentlewoman that attends the general's wife" (3.1.24-25). Moments later Iago appears and promises that he will "devise a mean to draw the Moor / Out of the way" (3.1.37-38). Then Emilia comes out and tells Cassio that "The general and his wife are talking of it" (3.1.43), and that Desdemona has already taken Cassio's side, but "the Moor replies, / That he you hurt is of great fame in Cyprus" (3.1.44-45). [Scene Summary]

Going out to inspect some fortifications with some gentlemen of Cyprus, Othello sends Iago on an errand, and Iago says, "Well, my good lord, I'll do't" (3.2.4). (Now the word "well" might indicate some reluctance, but it didn't in Shakespeare's time. Iago just means that his errand is "well," a good thing to do.) Othello then asks the gentlemen if they would like to see the fortifications, and one answers, "We'll wait upon your lordship" (3.2.6). [Scene Summary]

In Act 3, Scene 3 Desdemona pleads Cassio's case, and it appears that she has gotten her way, but afterwards Iago succeeds in turning Othello's love into murderous jealousy. During this scene, Othello is referred to by Cassio as "My general" (3.3.18). Desdemona, Emilia and Iago all call Othello "my lord," except for certain occasions, which are listed here.

When Desdemona begins to plead for Cassio she addresses Othello as "Good my lord" (3.3.45), and then as "Good love"(3.3.54), but when he tries to put her off, she points out that she wouldn't treat him as he is treating her. She says, "Tell me, Othello: I wonder in my soul, / What you would ask me, that I should deny" (3.3.68-69).

When Emilia picks up the handkerchief which Desdemona dropped, she says, "This was her first remembrance from the Moor" (3.3.291). Soon Iago appears, and Emilia tells him that she has the handkerchief "that the Moor first gave to Desdemona" (3.3.308). Iago snatches it from her and sends her away, then tells himself that he can use the handkerchief to increase Othello's jealousy, which is growing, because "The Moor already changes with my poison" (3.3.325).

When Iago has hidden the handkerchief on his person and Othello reappears, Iago warns him not to be jealous, saying "Why, how now, general! no more of that" (3.3.334). After that, Iago addresses him as "my lord" until Othello gets angry and demands proof of Desdemona's disloyalty. At that point, Iago pretends to be sorry that he has upset Othello and says, "I see, sir, you are eaten up with passion" (3.3.391). Near the end of the scene, when Othello is vowing revenge on Desdemona and Cassio, Iago also makes a vow, pledging his "wit, hands, heart, / To wrong'd Othello's service!"(3.3.466-467). [Scene Summary]

With a few exceptions, Desdemona refers to and addresses Othello as "my lord" in Act 3, Scene 4. The first exception is when she is telling Emilia that she is sorry she lost the handkerchief. She says that she is glad that "my noble Moor / Is true of mind and made of no such baseness / As jealous creatures are" (3.4.26-28). Later in the scene, after Othello has angrily berated her about the handkerchief, she says that it is not lost, whereupon he demands that she go get it and show it to him. Stiffly, she refuses, saying, "Why, so I can, sir, but I will not now" (3.4.86). After he has stormed out, Emilia suggests that Othello might be jealous, and Desdemona exclaims, "Heaven keep that monster from Othello's mind!" (3.4.163).

In the same scene, Iago refers to Othello as "my lord" (3.4.132), and Cassio refers to him as "the general" (3.4.193). [Scene Summary]

In the first scene of Act 4 Iago works Othello into a rage of jealousy by making insinuations about what Desdemona and Cassio might be doing in bed. Iago addresses Othello as "my lord" until he falls into a trance. Then, while Othello is unconscious, Iago comments on how good he is at being bad, and tries (or pretends to try) to awaken Othello with these words: "What, ho! my lord! / My lord, I say! Othello!" (4.1.47-48). When Othello finally does awake from his trance, Iago makes him ashamed of his weakness by asking, "How is it, general? Have you not hurt your head?" (4.1.59) and by saying, "Good sir, be a man" (4.1.65).

Later in the same scene, Desdemona addresses and refers to Othello as "my lord" until she sees that he is angry, whereupon she exclaims, "Why, sweet Othello" (4.1.239). He cuts her short by striking her.

After Othello has gone, Lodovico, who has been speaking of Othello as "my lord," asks, "Is this the noble Moor whom our full senate / Call all in all sufficient? Is this the nature / Whom passion could not shake?" (4.1.264-266). [Scene Summary]

In the scene in which Othello pretends that Desdemona is a whore and Emilia is the madam of the whorehouse, both women address Othello as "my lord." However, when Othello has gone, Emilia asks, "Alas, what does this gentleman conceive? / How do you, madam? how do you, my good lady?" (4.2.95-96), and Desdemona replies, "'Faith, half asleep" (4.2.97). Sympathetically, Emilia asks what's wrong with Othello, whom she refers to as "my lord." Desdemona asks who "my lord" is, and Emilia replies, "He that is yours, sweet lady" (4.2.101). Desdemona answers, "I have none" (4.2.102). In saying she has no lord, Desdemona means that the man who has just been heaping abuse upon her is not the man whom she loves and calls "my lord."

Moments later in the same scene the women talk with Iago about what just happened. Both Emilia and Desdemona refer to Othello as "my lord." In addition, when Emilia comes up with the idea that someone has been pouring poison into Othello's ear, she twice refers to Othello as "the Moor." She says, "The Moor's abused by some most villanous knave"(4.2.139), and then says to Iago "Some such squire he was / That turn'd your wit the seamy side without, / And made you to suspect me with the Moor" (4.2.145-147).

At the end of the same scene, Iago promises Roderigo that he will get to sleep with Desdemona the very next night if only one problem is solved, which is that "there is especial commission come from Venice / to depute Cassio in Othello's place" (4.2.221). This means that Desdemona will leave Cyprus with Othello. Eventually, Iago persuades Roderigo that the only thing that will keep Desdemona in Cyprus is the death of Cassio. In this conversation, both men refer to Othello only as "Othello." [Scene Summary]

As Othello is walking him home from the state dinner, Lodovico says, "I do beseech you, sir, trouble yourself no further" (4.3.1). Othello says it's no trouble and orders Desdemona to get to bed. She answers, "I will, my lord" (4.3.10). [Scene Summary]

In the first scene of Act Five there is a marked difference between how Iago refers to Othello in private and how he refers to him in public.

Waiting in the dark for Roderigo to kill Cassio, Iago tells himself that he needs Cassio dead because "the Moor / May unfold me to him; there stand I in much peril" (5.1.20-21). Later, when Iago reappears to answer the cries for help, Gratiano says to Lodovico, "This is Othello's ancient, as I take it" (5.1.51). In the presence of Gratiano and Lodovico, Iago promises the wounded Cassio, that he will "fetch the general's surgeon" (5.1.100), and a moment later he tells his wife, "Emilia run you to the citadel, / And tell my lord and lady what hath happ'd" (5.1.126-127). [Scene Summary]

Othello kisses the sleeping Desdemona while reminding himself that he is about to kill her for a just cause. Desdemona awakes and asks, "Who's there? Othello?" (5.2.23). Then she asks if he will come to bed. From then on, until he kills her, she addresses him as "my lord."

A few moments after Othello begins to smother Desdemona, Emilia comes and calls from outside the door, "My lord, my lord! what, ho! my lord, my lord!" (5.2.85). Othello doesn't let her in right away, but she has urgent news about Roderigo's death and Cassio's wounding, so she continues to call "my lord" and "good my lord." After Othello lets Emilia in and tells her that it was he who killed Desdemona, Emilia calls him names -- "devil!" (5.2.131), "O gull! O dolt!" (5.2.163) -- and then cries out, "Help! help, ho! help! / The Moor hath kill'd my mistress! Murder! murder!" (5.2.166-167).

Emilia's cry for help is answered by Montano, Gratiano, Iago and some others. The first one in the door is Montano, who says, "What is the matter? How now, general!" (5.2.168). Later after Othello has learned the truth about Iago and attacked him, Montano takes Othello's sword and instructs Gratiano, "Take you this weapon, / Which I have here recover'd from the Moor: / Come, guard the door without; let him not pass" (5.2.239-241).

Later in the scene, after Iago has been taken prisoner, Lodovico takes charge of the situation. Entering, he asks, "Where is this rash and most unfortunate man?" (5.2.283). He means Othello, who answers, "That's he that was Othello: here I am" (5.2.284). Moments later, Lodovico says "O thou Othello, thou wert once so good, / Fall'n in the practise [evil plot] of a damned slave, / What shall be said to thee?" (5.2.291-293). Where Lodovico uses the word "to" in "what shall be said to thee" we would use "of" or "about"; Lodovico is asking Othello to explain himself. Lodovico, going on his inquiry, asks if Othello conspired with Iago to kill Cassio. Othello answers simply, "Ay" (5.2.298). Cassio says, "Dear general, I never gave you cause" (5.2.299). Othello reassures Cassio that he believes him, and asks his pardon.

In the last speech of the play, after Othello has committed suicide, Lodovico assigns Othello's possessions to Gratiano, saying, "Gratiano, keep the house, / And seize upon the fortunes of the Moor, / For they succeed on you" (5.2.365-367). [Scene Summary]