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Othello: Act 1, Scene 3

Full Summary

           Enter DUKE, Senators and Officers.

  1   There is no composition in these news
  2   That gives them credit.

      First Senator
  2                   Indeed, they are disproportion'd;
  3   My letters say a hundred and seven galleys.

  4   And mine, a hundred and forty.

      Second Senator
  4                  And mine, two hundred!
  5   But though they jump not on a just account, —
  6   As in these cases, where the aim reports,
  7   'Tis oft with difference — yet do they all confirm
  8   A Turkish fleet, and bearing up to Cyprus.

  9   Nay, it is possible enough to judgment:
 10   I do not so secure me in the error
 11   But the main article I do approve
 12   In fearful sense.

      Sailor (Within.)
 12                         What, ho! what, ho! what, ho!

 13   A messenger from the galleys.

           Enter SAILOR.

 13                            Now, what's the business?

 14   The Turkish preparation makes for Rhodes;
 15   So was I bid report here to the state
 16   By Signior Angelo.

 17   How say you by this change?

      First Senator
 17                                     This cannot be,
 18   By no assay of reason: 'tis a pageant,
 19   To keep us in false gaze. When we consider
 20   The importancy of Cyprus to the Turk,
 21   And let ourselves again but understand,
 22   That as it more concerns the Turk than Rhodes,
 23   So may he with more facile question bear it,
 24   For that it stands not in such warlike brace,
 25   But altogether lacks the abilities
 26   That Rhodes is dress'd in: if we make thought of this,
 27   We must not think the Turk is so unskilful
 28   To leave that latest which concerns him first,
 29   Neglecting an attempt of ease and gain,
 30   To wake and wage a danger profitless.

 31   Nay, in all confidence, he's not for Rhodes.

 32   Here is more news.

           Enter a MESSENGER.

 33   The Ottomites, reverend and gracious,
 34   Steering with due course towards the isle of Rhodes,
 35   Have there injointed them with an after fleet.

      First Senator
 36   Ay, so I thought. How many, as you guess?

 37   Of thirty sail: and now they do restem
 38   Their backward course, bearing with frank appearance
 39   Their purposes toward Cyprus. Signior Montano,
 40   Your trusty and most valiant servitor,
 41   With his free duty recommends you thus,
 42   And prays you to believe him.

 43   'Tis certain, then, for Cyprus.
 44   Marcus Luccicos, is not he in town?

      First Senator
 45   He's now in Florence.

 46   Write from us to him; post-post-haste. Dispatch!

      First Senator
 47   Here comes Brabantio and the valiant Moor.

Full Summary

           IAGO, RODERIGO, and OFFICERS.

 48   Valiant Othello, we must straight employ you
 49   Against the general enemy Ottoman.

           [To Brabantio.]

 50   I did not see you; welcome, gentle signior;
 51   We lack'd your counsel and your help tonight.

 52   So did I yours. Good your grace, pardon me;
 53   Neither my place nor aught I heard of business
 54   Hath raised me from my bed, nor doth the general care
 55   Take hold on me, for my particular grief
 56   Is of so flood-gate and o'erbearing nature
 57   That it engluts and swallows other sorrows
 58   And it is still itself.

 58                          Why, what's the matter?

 59   My daughter! O, my daughter!

 59                            Dead?

 59                                       Ay, to me;
 60   She is abus'd, stol'n from me, and corrupted
 61   By spells and medicines bought of mountebanks;
 62   For nature so preposterously to err,
 63   Being not deficient, blind, or lame of sense,
 64   Sans witchcraft could not.

 65   Whoe'er he be that in this foul proceeding
 66   Hath thus beguiled your daughter of herself
 67   And you of her, the bloody book of law
 68   You shall yourself read in the bitter letter
 69   After your own sense, yea, though our proper son
 70   Stood in your action.

 70                                  Humbly I thank your grace.
 71   Here is the man, this Moor, whom now, it seems,
 72   Your special mandate for the state-affairs
 73   Hath hither brought.

 73                                     We are very sorry for't.

      DUKE [To Othello.]
 74   What, in your own part, can you say to this?

 75   Nothing, but this is so.

 76   Most potent, grave, and reverend signiors,
 77   My very noble and approv'd good masters,
 78   That I have ta'en away this old man's daughter,
 79   It is most true; true, I have married her:
 80   The very head and front of my offending
 81   Hath this extent, no more. Rude am I in my speech,
 82   And little bless'd with the soft phrase of peace:
 83   For since these arms of mine had seven years' pith,
 84   Till now some nine moons wasted, they have used
 85   Their dearest action in the tented field,
 86   And little of this great world can I speak,
 87   More than pertains to feats of broil and battle,
 88   And therefore little shall I grace my cause
 89   In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,
 90   I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver
 91   Of my whole course of love; what drugs, what charms,
 92   What conjuration and what mighty magic,
 93   For such proceeding I am charged withal,
 94   I won his daughter.

 94                      A maiden never bold;
 95   Of spirit so still and quiet, that her motion
 96   Blush'd at herself; and she, in spite of nature,
 97   Of years, of country, credit, every thing,
 98   To fall in love with what she fear'd to look on!
 99   It is a judgment maim'd and most imperfect
100   That will confess perfection so could err
101   Against all rules of nature, and must be driven
102   To find out practises of cunning hell,
103   Why this should be. I therefore vouch again
104   That with some mixtures powerful o'er the blood,
105   Or with some dram conjur'd to this effect,
106   He wrought upon her.

106                       To vouch this, is no proof,
107   Without more wider and more overt test
108   Than these thin habits and poor likelihoods
109   Of modern seeming do prefer against him.

      First Senator
110   But, Othello, speak:
111   Did you by indirect and forced courses
112   Subdue and poison this young maid's affections?
113   Or came it by request and such fair question
114   As soul to soul affordeth?

114                            I do beseech you,
115   Send for the lady to the Sagittary,
116   And let her speak of me before her father:
117   If you do find me foul in her report,
118   The trust, the office I do hold of you,
119   Not only take away, but let your sentence
120   Even fall upon my life.

120                          Fetch Desdemona hither.

121   Ancient, conduct them: you best know the place.

           [Exeunt IAGO and Attendants.]

122   And, till she come, as truly as to heaven
123   I do confess the vices of my blood,
124   So justly to your grave ears I'll present
125   How I did thrive in this fair lady's love,
126   And she in mine.

127   Say it, Othello.

128   Her father loved me; oft invited me;
129   Still question'd me the story of my life,
130   From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes,
131   That I have passed.
132   I ran it through, even from my boyish days,
133   To the very moment that he bade me tell it;
134   Wherein I spake of most disastrous chances,
135   Of moving accidents by flood and field
136   Of hair-breadth scapes i' the imminent deadly breach,
137   Of being taken by the insolent foe
138   And sold to slavery, of my redemption thence
139   And portance in my travels' history:
140   Wherein of antres vast and deserts idle,
141   Rough quarries, rocks and hills whose heads touch heaven
142   It was my hint to speak, — such was the process;
143   And of the Cannibals that each other eat,
144   The Anthropophagi and men whose heads
145   Do grow beneath their shoulders. This to hear
146   Would Desdemona seriously incline:
147   But still the house-affairs would draw her thence:
148   Which ever as she could with haste dispatch,
149   She'ld come again, and with a greedy ear
150   Devour up my discourse: which I observing,
151   Took once a pliant hour, and found good means
152   To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart
153   That I would all my pilgrimage dilate,
154   Whereof by parcels she had something heard,
155   But not intentively: I did consent,
156   And often did beguile her of her tears,
157   When I did speak of some distressful stroke
158   That my youth suffer'd. My story being done,
159   She gave me for my pains a world of sighs:
160   She swore, in faith, 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange,
161   'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful:
162   She wish'd she had not heard it, yet she wish'd
163   That heaven had made her such a man: she thank'd me,
164   And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,
165   I should but teach him how to tell my story.
166   And that would woo her. Upon this hint I spake:
167   She loved me for the dangers I had pass'd,
168   And I loved her that she did pity them.
169   This only is the witchcraft I have used:
170   Here comes the lady; let her witness it.

Full Summary


171   I think this tale would win my daughter too.
172   Good Brabantio,
173   Take up this mangled matter at the best:
174   Men do their broken weapons rather use
175   Than their bare hands.

175                        I pray you, hear her speak:
176   If she confess that she was half the wooer,
177   Destruction on my head, if my bad blame
178   Light on the man! Come hither, gentle mistress:
179   Do you perceive in all this noble company
180   Where most you owe obedience?

180                      My noble father,
181   I do perceive here a divided duty:
182   To you I am bound for life and education;
183   My life and education both do learn me
184   How to respect you; you are the lord of duty;
185   I am hitherto your daughter: but here's my husband,
186   And so much duty as my mother show'd
187   To you, preferring you before her father,
188   So much I challenge that I may profess
189   Due to the Moor, my lord.

189                                 God be with you! I have done.
190   Please it your grace, on to the state affairs:
191   I had rather to adopt a child than get it.
192   Come hither, Moor:
193   I here do give thee that with all my heart
194   Which, but thou hast already, with all my heart
195   I would keep from thee. For your sake, jewel,
196   I am glad at soul I have no other child:
197   For thy escape would teach me tyranny,
198   To hang clogs on them. I have done, my lord.

199   Let me speak like yourself, and lay a sentence,
200   Which, as a grise or step, may help these lovers
201   Into your favor.
202   When remedies are past, the griefs are ended
203   By seeing the worst, which late on hopes depended.
204   To mourn a mischief that is past and gone
205   Is the next way to draw new mischief on.
206   What cannot be preserved when fortune takes
207   Patience her injury a mockery makes.
208   The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief;
209   He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.

210   So let the Turk of Cyprus us beguile;
211   We lose it not, so long as we can smile.
212   He bears the sentence well that nothing bears
213   But the free comfort which from thence he hears,
214   But he bears both the sentence and the sorrow
215   That, to pay grief, must of poor patience borrow.
216   These sentences, to sugar, or to gall,
217   Being strong on both sides, are equivocal:
218   But words are words; I never yet did hear
219   That the bruised heart was pierced through the ear.
220   I humbly beseech you, proceed to the affairs of state.

221   The Turk with a most mighty preparation makes for
222   Cyprus. Othello, the fortitude of the place is best
223   known to you; and though we have there a substitute
224   of most allow'd sufficiency, yet opinion, a
225   sovereign mistress of effects, throws a more safer
226   voice on you: you must therefore be content to
227   slubber the gloss of your new fortunes with this
228   more stubborn and boisterous expedition.

229   The tyrant custom, most grave senators,
230   Hath made the flinty and steel couch of war
231   My thrice-driven bed of down: I do agnize
232   A natural and prompt alacrity
233   I find in hardness, and do undertake
234   These present wars against the Ottomites.
235   Most humbly therefore bending to your state,
236   I crave fit disposition for my wife.
237   Due reference of place and exhibition,
238   With such accommodation and besort
239   As levels with her breeding.

239                              If you please,
240   Be't at her father's.

240                        I'll not have it so.

241   Nor I.

241         Nor I; I would not there reside,
242   To put my father in impatient thoughts
243   By being in his eye. Most gracious duke,
244   To my unfolding lend your prosperous ear;
245   And let me find a charter in your voice,
246   To assist my simpleness.

247   What would You, Desdemona?

248   That I did love the Moor to live with him,
249   My downright violence and storm of fortunes
250   May trumpet to the world. My heart's subdued
251   Even to the very quality of my lord:
252   I saw Othello's visage in his mind,
253   And to his honor and his valiant parts
254   Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate.
255   So that, dear lords, if I be left behind,
256   A moth of peace, and he go to the war,
257   The rites for which I love him are bereft me,
258   And I a heavy interim shall support
259   By his dear absence. Let me go with him.

260   Let her have your voices.
261   Vouch with me, heaven, I therefore beg it not,
262   To please the palate of my appetite,
263   Nor to comply with heat — the young affects
264   In me defunct — and proper satisfaction.
265   But to be free and bounteous to her mind:
266   And heaven defend your good souls, that you think
267   I will your serious and great business scant
268   For she is with me: no, when light-wing'd toys
269   Of feather'd Cupid seal with wanton dullness
270   My speculative and officed instruments,
271   That my disports corrupt and taint my business,
272   Let housewives make a skillet of my helm,
273   And all indign and base adversities
274   Make head against my estimation!

275   Be it as you shall privately determine,
276   Either for her stay or going: the affair cries haste,
277   And speed must answer it.

      First Senator
277                           You must away tonight.

278   Tonight, my lord?

278                     This night.

278                              With all my heart.

279   At nine i' the morning here we'll meet again.
280   Othello, leave some officer behind,
281   And he shall our commission bring to you;
282   With such things else of quality and respect
283   As doth import you.

283                     So please your grace, my ancient;
284   A man he is of honesty and trust.
285   To his conveyance I assign my wife,
286   With what else needful your good grace shall think
287   To be sent after me.

287                      Let it be so.
288   Good night to every one.

           [To Brabantio.]

288                                      And, noble signior,
289   If virtue no delighted beauty lack,
290   Your son-in-law is far more fair than black.

      First Senator
291   Adieu, brave Moor, use Desdemona well.

292   Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see:
293   She has deceived her father, and may thee.

           Exeunt [Duke, Senators, Officers, &c.]

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

Full Summary

           Exit [with Desdemona].

301   Iago, —

302   What say'st thou, noble heart?

303   What will I do, thinkest thou?

304   Why, go to bed, and sleep.

305   I will incontinently drown myself.

306   If thou dost, I shall never love thee after. Why,
307   thou silly gentleman?

308   It is silliness to live when to live is torment; and
309   then have we a prescription to die when death is
310   our physician.

311   O villainous! I have looked upon the world for four
312   times seven years; and since I could distinguish
313   betwixt a benefit and an injury, I never found man
314   that knew how to love himself. Ere I would say, I
315   would drown myself for the love of a guinea-hen, I
316   would change my humanity with a baboon.

317   What should I do? I confess it is my shame to be so
318   fond; but it is not in my virtue to amend it.

319   Virtue! a fig! 'tis in ourselves that we are thus or
320   thus. Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our
321   wills are gardeners: so that if we will plant nettles,
322   or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up tine, supply
323   it with one gender of herbs, or distract it with many,
324   either to have it sterile with idleness, or manured with
325   industry, why, the power and corrigible authority of
326   this lies in our wills. If the balance of our lives had not
327   one scale of reason to poise another of sensuality, the
328   blood and baseness of our natures would conduct us
329   to most preposterous conclusions: but we have
330   reason to cool our raging motions, our carnal
331   stings, our unbitted lusts, whereof I take this that
332   you call love to be a sect or scion.

333   It cannot be!

334   It is merely a lust of the blood and a permission of
335   the will. Come, be a man. Drown thyself! drown
336   cats and blind puppies. I have professed me thy
337   friend and I confess me knit to thy deserving with
338   cables of perdurable toughness; I could never
339   better stead thee than now. Put money in thy
340   purse; follow thou the wars; defeat thy favor with
341   an usurped beard; I say, put money in thy purse. It
342   cannot be that Desdemona should long continue her
343   love to the Moor, — put money in thy purse, — nor he
344   his to her: it was a violent commencement, and thou
345   shalt see an answerable sequestration: — put but
346   money in thy purse. These Moors are changeable in
347   their wills: fill thy purse with money: — the food
348   that to him now is as luscious as locusts, shall be
349   to him shortly as bitter as coloquintida. She must
350   change for youth: when she is sated with his body,
351   she will find the error of her choice: she must
352   have change, she must: therefore put money in thy
353   purse. If thou wilt needs damn thyself, do it a
354   more delicate way than drowning. Make all the money
355   thou canst: if sanctimony and a frail vow betwixt
356   an erring barbarian and a supersubtle Venetian be not
357   too hard for my wits and all the tribe of hell, thou
358   shalt enjoy her; therefore make money. A pox of
359   drowning thyself! it is clean out of the way: seek
360   thou rather to be hanged in compassing thy joy than
361   to be drowned and go without her.

362   Wilt thou be fast to my hopes, if I depend on
363   the issue?

364   Thou art sure of me: — go, make money: — I have told
365   thee often, and I re-tell thee again and again, I
366   hate the Moor: my cause is hearted; thine hath no
367   less reason. Let us be conjunctive in our revenge
368   against him: if thou canst cuckold him, thou dost
369   thyself a pleasure, me a sport. There are many
370   events in the womb of time which will be delivered.
371   Traverse! go, provide thy money. We will have more
372   of this tomorrow. Adieu.

373   Where shall we meet i' the morning?

374   At my lodging.

375   I'll be with thee betimes.

376   Go to; farewell. Do you hear, Roderigo?

377   What say you?

378   No more of drowning, do you hear?

379   I am chang'd.

380   Go to, farewell. Put money enough in your
381   purse.

382   I'll sell all my land.

Full Summary


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


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