Philip Weller caricature
Philip and Weller hugging

Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years.   
-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.

Othello: Act 1, Scene 2

           Enter OTHELLO, IAGO,
           ATTENDANTS with torches.
with torches: Having characters carry torches is Shakespeare's way of telling his audience that it's night.

  1   Though in the trade of war I have slain men,
1. in the trade of war: i.e., as a soldier.

  2   Yet do I hold it very stuff o' the conscience
2. stuff: essential substance.

  3   To do no contrived murder: I lack iniquity
3. contrived: premeditated.

  4   Sometimes to do me service: nine or ten times
  5   I had thought to have yerk'd him here under the ribs.
5. yerk'd: stabbed.
Blair Underwood as Othello, Old Globe 2014Blair Underwood as Othello
Old Globe 2014

  6   'Tis better as it is.

                          Nay, but he prated,
  7   And spoke such scurvy and provoking terms
  8   Against your honor
  9   That, with the little godliness I have,
 10   I did full hard forbear him. But, I pray you, sir,
10. did full hard forbear him: had a hard time keeping my hands off him.

 11   Are you fast married? Be assured of this,
 12   That the magnifico is much beloved,
12. magnifico: Venetian grandee, i.e., Brabantio.

 13   And hath in his effect a voice potential
13. in his effect: at his command. potential: powerful.

 14   As double as the duke's: he will divorce you;
14. double: of double strength (like the Duke's voting power in the Senate).

 15   Or put upon you what restraint and grievance
 16   The law, with all his might to enforce it on,
 17   Will give him cable.
17. cable: scope (cf. "give one rope enough").

                        Let him do his spite:
 18   My services which I have done the signiory
18. signiory: Venetian government.

 19   Shall out-tongue his complaints. 'Tis yet to know,—
19. yet to know: not yet public knowledge.

 20   Which, when I know that boasting is an honor,
 21   I shall promulgate—I fetch my life and being
21. promulgate: make publicly known.

 22   From men of royal siege, and my demerits
22. siege: seat, i.e., rank. demerits: deserts, merits.

 23   May speak unbonneted to as proud a fortune
23. unbonneted: bare-headed; i.e., without the least embarrassment.

 24   As this that I have reach'd: for know, Iago,
 25   But that I love the gentle Desdemona,
 26   I would not my unhoused free condition
26. unhoused: unconfined, undomesticated.

 27   Put into circumscription and confine
 28   For the sea's worth. But, look! what lights come yond?
28. the sea's worth: all the treasure in the sea.

 29   Those are the raised father and his friends:
 30   You were best go in.

                         Not I; I must be found:
 31   My parts, my title and my perfect soul
31. parts: qualities, personal merits. title: position. perfect soul: clear conscience, conviction that I have done no wrong.

 32   Shall manifest me rightly. Is it they?

 33   By Janus, I think no.
33. Janus: In Roman mythology, Janus is the two-faced god of doorways, gates, beginnings, and endings. In short, he is the god of reversals. In this situation, Iago's expectations have been reversed; he expected a group of Othello's enemies to show up, but instead a group of Othello's friends arrive.

           Enter CASSIO with [OFFICERS and] torches.

 34   The servants of the duke, and my lieutenant.
 35   The goodness of the night upon you, friends!
 36   What is the news?
Cory Misek as CassioCory Misek as Cassio
Flatwater Shakespeare, 2011

                       The duke does greet you, general,
 37   And he requires your haste-post-haste appearance,
 38   Even on the instant.

                         What is the matter, think you?
38. matter: issue, problem.

 39   Something from Cyprus as I may divine:
 40   It is a business of some heat: the galleys
 41   Have sent a dozen sequent messengers
41. sequent: successive, one after another.

 42   This very night at one another's heels,
 43   And many of the consuls, raised and met,
43. consuls: senators.

 44   Are at the duke's already: you have been hotly call'd for;
 45   When, being not at your lodging to be found,
 46   The senate hath sent about three several quests
46. several: separate. quests: search parties.

 47   To search you out.

                       'Tis well I am found by you.
 48   I will but spend a word here in the house,
 49   And go with you.


                     Ancient, what makes he here?
49. what makes he here?: what is he doing here?

 50   'Faith, he tonight hath boarded a land carack:
50. carack: large trading ship.

 51   If it prove lawful prize, he's made for ever.
51. prize: booty. he's made for ever: he'll be rich forever.

 52   I do not understand.

                         He's married.

                                     To who?

           [Re-enter OTHELLO.]

53. Marry: indeed.
 53   Marry, to—Come, captain, will you go?

                              Have with you.
53. Have with you: i.e., yes, we'll go together.

 54   Here comes another troop to seek for you.

           Enter BRABANTIO, RODERIGO,
           with OFFICERS [with] torches [and

 55   It is Brabantio. General, be advised;
55. advised: on your guard.

 56   He comes to bad intent.

                            Holla! stand there!
56. stand there: stop where you are; don't come any closer.

Othello intervening between two men with swords drawn
"Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them."
 57   Signior, it is the Moor.

                          Down with him, thief!

           [They draw on both sides.]

 58   You, Roderigo! come, sir, I am for you.

 59   Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them.
59. Keep up: keep in their scabbards. for the dew will rust them: This is Othello's ironic way of saying that swords will do no good in this situation.

 60   Good signior, you shall more command with years
 61   Than with your weapons.

 62   O thou foul thief, where hast thou stow'd my daughter?
 63   Damn'd as thou art, thou hast enchanted her;
63. enchanted: cast a spell upon.

 64   For I'll refer me to all things of sense,
64. refer me to all things of sense: i.e., submit my case to the court of ordinary common sense.

 65   If she in chains of magic were not bound,
 66   Whether a maid so tender, fair and happy,
 67   So opposite to marriage that she shunned
 68   The wealthy curled darlings of our nation,
 69   Would ever have, to incur a general mock,
 70   Run from her guardage to the sooty bosom
70. guardage: protection (of her father).

 71   Of such a thing as thou — to fear, not to delight!
 72   Judge me the world, if 'tis not gross in sense
72. gross in sense: obvious to perception.

 73   That thou hast practised on her with foul charms,
73. practised on her with foul charms: abused her by means of black magic.

 74   Abused her delicate youth with drugs or minerals
 75   That weaken motion: I'll have't disputed on;
75. motion: vital faculties, the mental powers. I'll have't disputed on: I'll submit it to experts for judgment.

 76   'Tis probable and palpable to thinking.
 77   I therefore apprehend and do attach thee
77. attach: arrest.

 78   For an abuser of the world, a practiser
 79   Of arts inhibited and out of warrant.
79. inhibited: prohibited. out of warrant: unwarrantable, illegal.

 80   Lay hold upon him: if he do resist,
 81   Subdue him at his peril.

                             Hold your hands,
82. inclining: following, party.
 82   Both you of my inclining, and the rest:
 83   Were it my cue to fight, I should have known it
 84   Without a prompter. Where will you that I go
 85   To answer this your charge?

                                To prison, till fit time
 86   Of law and course of direct session
86. course of direct session: regular legal proceedings.

 87   Call thee to answer.

                         What if I do obey?
 88   How may the duke be therewith satisfied,
 89   Whose messengers are here about my side,
 90   Upon some present business of the state
 91   To bring me to him?

                       'Tis true, most worthy signior;
 92   The duke's in council and your noble self,
 93   I am sure, is sent for.

                            How! the duke in council!
 94   In this time of the night! Bring him away:
94. Bring him away: i.e., bring Othello along with us to the Senate. —Brabantio is speaking as though Othello is in his custody, though we can clearly see that that is not the case.

 95   Mine's not an idle cause: the duke himself,
 96   Or any of my brothers of the state,
 97   Cannot but feel this wrong as 'twere their own;
 98   For if such actions may have passage free,
 99   Bond-slaves and pagans shall our statesmen be.