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 2, Scene 1

Men watching a great sea storm
           Enter MONTANO and two

  1   What from the cape can you discern at sea?

      First Gentleman
  2   Nothing at all: it is a highwrought flood;
  3   I cannot, 'twixt the heaven and the main,
3. main: open sea.

  4   Descry a sail.
4. Descry: catch sight of.

  5   Methinks the wind hath spoke aloud at land;
  6   A fuller blast ne'er shook our battlements:
  7   If it hath ruffian'd so upon the sea,
7. ruffian'd: raged.

  8   What ribs of oak, when mountains melt on them,
8. ribs of oak: i.e., ship. mountains: huge waves.

  9   Can hold the mortise? What shall we hear of this?
9. hold the mortise: hold their joints together. . . . more What shall we hear of this?: i.e., What is going to happen because of this storm?

      Second Gentleman
 10   A segregation of the Turkish fleet:
10. segregation of the Turkish fleet: i.e., the Turkish fleet will be broken up and scattered.

 11   For do but stand upon the foaming shore,
 12   The chidden billow seems to pelt the clouds;
 13   The wind-shaked surge, with high and monstrous main,
 14   seems to cast water on the burning bear,
14. burning bear: i.e., the starry bear; the constellation Ursa Major.

 15   And quench the guards of the ever-fixed pole:
15. guards: the two stars Dubhe and Merak. . . . more

 16   I never did like molestation view
16. like molestation: comparable uproar.

 17   On the enchafed flood.
17. enchafed: angry.

                           If that the Turkish fleet
 18   Be not enshelter'd and embay'd, they are drown'd:
 19   It is impossible they bear it out.

           Enter a [third] GENTLEMAN.

      Third Gentleman
 20   News, lads! our wars are done.
 21   The desperate tempest hath so bang'd the Turks,
 22   That their designment halts: a noble ship of Venice
22. designment: plan. halts: is crippled.

 23   Hath seen a grievous wreck and sufferance
23. sufferance: disaster, damage.

 24   On most part of their fleet.

 25   How! is this true?

      Third Gentleman
                       The ship is here put in,
 26   A Veronesa; Michael Cassio,
26. Veronesa: a type of ship associated with Verona.

 27   Lieutenant to the warlike Moor Othello,
 28   Is come on shore: the Moor himself at sea,
 29   And is in full commission here for Cyprus.
28. is in full commission here for Cyprus: i.e., has full authority from the Venetian Senate to govern Cyprus.

 30   I am glad on't; 'tis a worthy governor.

      Third Gentleman
 31   But this same Cassio, though he speak of comfort
 32   Touching the Turkish loss, yet he looks sadly,
 33   And prays the Moor be safe; for they were parted
 34   With foul and violent tempest.

                                   Pray heavens he be;
 35   For I have served him, and the man commands
 36   Like a full soldier. Let's to the seaside, ho!
36. full: perfect.

 37   As well to see the vessel that's come in
 38   As to throw out our eyes for brave Othello,
 39   Even till we make the main and the aerial blue
 40   An indistinct regard.
40. An indistinct regard: indistinguishable to the sight.

      Third Gentleman
                          Come, let's do so:
 41   For every minute is expectancy
 42   Of more arrivance.
41-42. every minute is expectancy / Of more arrivance: i.e., every minute we expect another arrival of a ship.

           Enter CASSIO.

 43   Thanks, you the valiant of this warlike isle,
 44   That so approve the Moor! O, let the heavens
44. approve: commend, admire.

 45   Give him defence against the elements,
 46   For I have lost him on a dangerous sea.

 47   Is he well shipp'd?

 48   His bark is stoutly timber'd, his pilot
 49   Of very expert and approved allowance;
49. Of very expert and approved allowance: i.e., of acknowledged and proved skill.

 50   Therefore my hopes, not surfeited to death,
 51   Stand in bold cure.
50-51. my hopes, not surfeited to death, / Stand in bold cure: my hopes, not fatally over-fed, are very healthy.

           [A cry] within, "A sail, a sail, a sail!"

           [Enter a fourth Gentleman.]

 52   What noise?

      Fourth Gentleman
 53   The town is empty; on the brow o' the sea
 54   Stand ranks of people, and they cry "A sail!"

 55   My hopes do shape him for the governor.
55. My hopes do shape him for the governor: i.e., My hopes make me think I see the new governor (Othello) coming.

           [Guns heard.]

      Second Gentlemen
 56   They do discharge their shot of courtesy:
 57   Our friends at least.

                          I pray you, sir, go forth,
 58   And give us truth who 'tis that is arrived.

      Second Gentleman
 59   I shall.


 60   But, good lieutenant, is your general wived?

 61   Most fortunately: he hath achieved a maid
 62   That paragons description and wild fame;
62. paragons . . . fame: surpasses whatever praise is uttered of her.

 63   One that excels the quirks of blazoning pens,
63. quirks: poetic flourishes. blazoning pens: i.e., writers who list her beauties.

 64   And in the essential vesture of creation
 65   Does tire the ingener.
64-65. in the essential . . . ingener: i.e., just the fact that she lives in her natural beauty defeats all attempts of the inventive poet to praise her adequately.

           Enter [second] GENTLEMAN.

65. put in: come into the harbor.
                                         How now! who has put in?

      Second Gentleman
 66   'Tis one Iago, ancient to the general.

 67   H'as had most favorable and happy speed:
67. favorable and happy speed: excellent good fortune.

 68   Tempests themselves, high seas, and howling winds,
 69   The gutter'd rocks and congregated sands—
69. gutter'd: jagged. congregated sands: sand bars.

 70   Traitors ensteep'd to clog the guiltless keel,—
70. ensteep'd: submerged. clog: encumber, obstruct.

 71   As having sense of beauty, do omit
 72   Their mortal natures, letting go safely by
71-72. do omit / Their mortal natures: do not act in accordance with their deadly natures.

 73   The divine Desdemona.

                                            What is she?

 74   She that I spake of, our great captain's captain,
 75   Left in the conduct of the bold Iago,
 76   Whose footing here anticipates our thoughts
76. footing: landing, arrival. anticipates our thoughts: runs ahead of our expectations.

 77   A se'nnight's speed. Great Jove, Othello guard,
77. se'nnight's: week's.

 78   And swell his sail with thine own powerful breath,
 79   That he may bless this bay with his tall ship,
 80   Make love's quick pants in Desdemona's arms,
 81   Give renew'd fire to our extincted spirits
 82   And bring all Cyprus comfort!

           Enter DESDEMONA, IAGO,
           RODERIGO, and EMILIA.

                                  O, behold,
 83   The riches of the ship is come on shore!
 84   Ye men of Cyprus, let her have your knees.
 85   Hail to thee, lady! and the grace of heaven,
 86   Before, behind thee, and on every hand,
 87   Enwheel thee round!

                        I thank you, valiant Cassio.
 88   What tidings can you tell me of my lord?
88. my lord: my husband (Othello).

 89   He is not yet arrived: nor know I aught
 90   But that he's well and will be shortly here.

 91   O, but I fear—How lost you company?
91. How lost you company?: how did you lose contact with Othello's ship?

 92   The great contention of the sea and skies
 93   Parted our fellowship.
Sam Cheeseman as Michael Casstio
For Nebraska Shakespeare's
production of Othello
(Shakespeare On Tour 2019)
Cassio was portrayed by Sam Cheeseman.

           Within "A sail, a sail!"

 93                                   But, hark! a sail.

      Second Gentleman
 94   They give their greeting to the citadel;
 95   This likewise is a friend.

 95                            See for the news.

           [Exit Second Gentleman.]

 96   Good ancient, you are welcome.

           [To Emilia.]

 96                            Welcome, mistress.
 97   Let it not gall your patience, good Iago,
 98   That I extend my manners; 'tis my breeding
98. extend: show.

 99   That gives me this bold show of courtesy.
98-99. 'tis . . . courtesy: i.e., the way I was brought up makes me believe that kissing your wife is the courteous thing to do.

           [Kissing her.]
Cassio kissing Emilia
"Kissing her"

100   Sir, would she give you so much of her lips
101   As of her tongue she oft bestows on me,
102   You would have enough.

                           Alas, she has no speech.

103   In faith, too much;
104   I find it still, when I have list to sleep:
104. list: inclination.

105   Marry, before your ladyship, I grant,
105. before your ladyship: in your ladyship's presence.

106   She puts her tongue a little in her heart,
106. She . . . heart: i.e., she doesn't say as much as she usually does.

107   And chides with thinking.
107. chides with thinking: i.e., scolds with thoughts.

108   You have little cause to say so.

109   Come on, come on; you are pictures out of doors,
109. pictures out of doors: picture-perfect in public.

110   Bells in your parlors, wild-cats in your kitchens,
110. Bells: belles, gracious ladies.

111   Saints in your injuries, devils being offended,
111. Saints in your injuries: [hypocritically] saintly when you injure others.

112   Players in your huswifery, and huswives in your beds.
112. Players: actors, fakers. huswifery: housekeeping. huswives: hussies. A moment later Iago sums up his opinion about the way housewives earn their living: "You rise to play and go to bed to work"; in other words, housewives are actually hussies. Of course, he says it with a smile and makes everyone laugh.

113   O, fie upon thee, slanderer!

114   Nay, it is true, or else I am a Turk:
115   You rise to play and go to bed to work.
Mark Rylance as Iago
Mark Rylance as Iago
Shakespeare's Globe, 2018

116   You shall not write my praise.

                                   No, let me not.

117   What wouldst thou write of me, if thou shouldst
      praise me?

118   O gentle lady, do not put me to't;
119   For I am nothing, if not critical.

120   Come on, assay. —There's one gone to the harbor?
120. assay: try.

121   Ay, madam.

122   I am not merry; but I do beguile
123   The thing I am, by seeming otherwise.—
123. The thing I am: i.e., my anxious self. Remember that she still doesn't know where Othello's ship is.

124   Come, how wouldst thou praise me?

125   I am about it; but indeed my invention
126   Comes from my pate as birdlime does from frieze;
126. birdlime: sticky substance used to catch small birds. frieze: coarse woolen cloth

127   It plucks out brains and all: but my Muse labors,
128   And thus she is deliver'd.
129   If she be fair and wise, fairness and wit,
130   The one's for use, the other useth it.
130. The one's for use, the other useth it: i.e., her cleverness will make use of her beauty.

131   Well praised! How if she be black and witty?
131. black: dark complexioned, unattractive.

132   If she be black, and thereto have a wit,
133   She'll find a white that shall her blackness fit.
133. a white: a fair, attractive person. Iago could also be punning on "wight," which means "person."

134   Worse and worse.

135   How if fair and foolish?

136   She never yet was foolish that was fair;
137   For even her folly help'd her to an heir.
137. folly: 1) foolishness; 2) "wantonness" or "lechery." to an heir: i.e., to bear a child.

138   These are old fond paradoxes to make fools laugh i'
138. fond: foolish.

139   the alehouse. What miserable praise hast thou for
140   her that's foul and foolish?
140. foul: ugly.

141   There's none so foul and foolish thereunto,
142   But does foul pranks which fair and wise ones do.

143   O heavy ignorance! thou praisest the worst
144   best. But what praise couldst thou bestow on a
145   deserving woman indeed,—one that, in the authority
145-146. in the authority of: by virtue of. put on the vouch of: compel favorable testimony from.
146   of her merit, did justly put on the vouch of very
147   malice itself?

148   She that was ever fair and never proud,
149   Had tongue at will and yet was never loud,
150   Never lack'd gold and yet went never gay,
150. gay: extravagantly dressed.

151   Fled from her wish and yet said "Now I may,"
151. Fled from her wish and yet said "Now I may": i.e., knew when to exercise restraint and when to let loose.

152   She that being anger'd, her revenge being nigh,
153   Bade her wrong stay and her displeasure fly,
153. Bade her wrong stay: Commanded her justified anger to stop short.

154   She that in wisdom never was so frail
155   To change the cod's head for the salmon's tail;
155. change the cod's head for the salmon's tail: Obscure. Perhaps "give up something common but valuable in exchange for something showy but worthless."

156   She that could think and ne'er disclose her mind,
157   See suitors following and not look behind,
158   She was a wight, if ever such wight were,—

159   To do what?

160   To suckle fools and chronicle small beer.
160. suckle fools and chronicle small beer: nurse babies and keep petty household accounts.

161   O most lame and impotent conclusion! Do not learn
162   of him, Emilia, though he be thy husband. How say
163   you, Cassio? is he not a most profane and liberal
163. liberal: licentious, free-spoken.

164   counsellor?

165   He speaks home, madam: You may relish him more
165. home: bluntly.

166   in the soldier than in the scholar.
166. in: in the character of.

      IAGO [Aside.]
167   He takes her by the palm: ay, well said,
168   whisper: with as little a web as this will I
169   ensnare as great a fly as Cassio. Ay, smile upon
170   her, do; I will gyve thee in thine own courtship.
170. gyve: entangle, shackle. courtship: courtesy, display of courtly manners.

171   You say true; 'tis so, indeed: if such tricks as
172   these strip you out of your lieutenantry, it had
173   been better you had not kissed your three fingers so
174   oft, which now again you are most apt to play the
174. sir: fine gentleman, gallant.

175   sir in. Very good; well kissed! an excellent
176   courtesy! 'tis so, indeed. Yet again your fingers
176. courtesy: bow? air kiss?

177   to your lips? would they were clyster-pipes for your sake!
177. clyster-pipes: enema tubes.

           [Trumpet within.]

178   The Moor! I know his trumpet.

179   'Tis truly so.

180   Let's meet him and receive him.

181   Lo, where he comes!

           Enter OTHELLO and Attendants.
Reunion of Othello and Desdemona in Cyprus, by Sir John Gilbert

182   O my fair warrior!

                       My dear Othello!

183   It gives me wonder great as my content
184   To see you here before me. O my soul's joy!
185   If after every tempest come such calms,
186   May the winds blow till they have waken'd death!
187   And let the laboring bark climb hills of seas
188   Olympus-high and duck again as low
189   As hell's from heaven! If it were now to die,
190   'Twere now to be most happy; for, I fear,
191   My soul hath her content so absolute
192   That not another comfort like to this
193   Succeeds in unknown fate.
193. Succeeds in unknown fate: i.e., can follow in the unknown future.

                              The heavens forbid
194   But that our loves and comforts should increase,
195   Even as our days do grow!
Eamonn Walker as Othello and Zoe Tapper as Desdemona kiss
Eamonn Walker as Othello and Zoe Tapper as Desdemona
Shakespeare's Globe, London, 2007

                              Amen to that, sweet powers!
196   I cannot speak enough of this content;
197   It stops me here; it is too much of joy:
198   And this, and this, the greatest discords be

           [They kiss.]

199   That e'er our hearts shall make!

      IAGO [Aside.]
199                                    O, you are well tuned now!
200   But I'll set down the pegs that make this music,
200. set down the pegs: i.e., untune the instrument (and so produce discords).

201   As honest as I am.

                                   Come, let us to the castle.
202   News, friends; our wars are done, the Turks are drown'd.
203   How does my old acquaintance of this isle?
204   Honey, you shall be well desir'd in Cyprus;
204. desir'd: welcomed, loved.

205   I have found great love amongst them. O my sweet,
206   I prattle out of fashion, and I dote
206. out of fashion: irrelevantly or unconventionally.

207   In mine own comforts. I prithee, good Iago,
208   Go to the bay and disembark my coffers:
208. coffers: official baggage.

209   Bring thou the master to the citadel;
209. master: ship's captain.

210   He is a good one, and his worthiness
211   Does challenge much respect. Come, Desdemona,
211. challenge: claim, deserve.

212   Once more, well met at Cyprus.

           Exeunt Othello and Desdemona [with all but
           Iago and Roderigo].

      IAGO [To an attendant.]
213   Do thou meet me presently at the harbour.

           [To Roderigo.]

214   Come hither. If thou be'st valiant,— as, they say, base
214-215. base men: men of low birth.

215   men being in love have then a nobility in their
216   natures more than is native to them—list me. The
216. native: natural. list me: listen to me.

217   lieutenant tonight watches on the court of
218   guard. First, I must tell thee this—Desdemona is
217-218. watches on the court of guard: has charge of the soldiers on night watch.

219   directly in love with him.

220   With him! why, 'tis not possible.

221   Lay thy finger thus, and let thy soul be instructed.
221. thus: i.e., on your lips.

222   Mark me with what violence she first loved the Moor,
223   but for bragging and telling her fantastical lies: To
224   love him still for prating—let not thy discreet heart
224. still: always.

225   think it. Her eye must be fed; and what delight shall
226   she have to look on the devil? When the blood is
226. the devil: In Shakespeare's time, devils are always black and grotesque. . . . more

227   made dull with the act of sport, there should be, again
228   to inflame it and to give satiety a fresh appetite,
229   loveliness in favor, sympathy in years, manners and
229. favor: face, appearance. sympathy: similarity.

230   beauties; all which the Moor is defective in: now, for
231   want of these required conveniences, her delicate
231. conveniences: compatibilities.

232   tenderness will find itself abused, begin to heave the
233   gorge, disrelish and abhor the Moor; very nature will
232-233. heave the gorge: vomit.

234   instruct her in it and compel her to some second choice.
234. instruct . . . choice: i.e. teach her a lesson and make take make her choose a different man for her lover.

235   Now, sir, this granted,—as it is a most pregnant and
235. pregnant: evident, readily believable, obvious.

236   unforced position—who stands so eminent in the degree
237   of this fortune as Cassio does? a knave very voluble;
238. conscionable: bound by considerations of conscience.
238   no further conscionable than in putting on the mere
239   form of civil and humane seeming, for the better
239. civil and humane: polite and courteous.

240   compassing of his salt and most hidden loose affection?
240. salt: licentious, lewd. affection: passion.

241   why, none; why, none: a slipper and subtle knave, a
241. slipper: slippery.

242   finder of occasions, that has an eye can stamp and
242. stamp: coin, manufacture.

243   counterfeit advantages, though true advantage never
243. counterfeit advantages: counterfeit opportunities.

244   present itself; a devilish knave. Besides, the knave
245   is handsome, young, and hath all those requisites in
246   him that folly and green minds look after: a pestilent
246. folly: wantonness. green: youthful, lusty.

247   complete knave; and the woman hath found him
247. found him: sized him up.

248   already.

249   I cannot believe that in her; she's full of
250   most blessed condition.
250. condition: disposition. character.

251   Blessed fig's-end! the wine she drinks is made of
252   grapes: if she had been blessed, she would never
253   have loved the Moor. Blessed pudding! Didst thou
254   not see her paddle with the palm of his hand? didst
255   not mark that?

256   Yes, that I did; but that was but courtesy.

257   Lechery, by this hand; an index and obscure prologue
257. index: table of contents at the beginning of a book.

258   to the history of lust and foul thoughts. They met
259   so near with their lips that their breaths embraced
260   together. Villainous thoughts, Roderigo! when these
261   mutualities so marshal the way, hard at hand comes
261. mutualities: exchanges, intimacies. hard at hand: very soon after.

262   the master and main exercise, the incorporate
262. incorporate: carnal.

263   conclusion, Pish! But, sir, be you ruled by me: I
264. Watch you: serve as a member of the watch.
264   have brought you from Venice. Watch you tonight;
265. lay't upon you: arrange for your orders.
265   for the command, I'll lay't upon you. Cassio knows
266   you not. I'll not be far from you: do you find
267   some occasion to anger Cassio, either by speaking
268   too loud, or tainting his discipline; or from what
268. tainting: disparaging, discrediting. his discipline: his conduct as an officer.

269   other course you please, which the time shall more
270   favorably minister.

271   Well.

272   Sir, he is rash and very sudden in choler, and haply
272. rash: impetuous. choler: anger. haply: perchance.

273   may strike at you: provoke him, that he may; for
274   even out of that will I cause these of Cyprus to
275   mutiny; whose qualification shall come into no true
275. mutiny: riot.hello

276   taste again but by the displanting of Cassio. So
275-276. whose .  . Cassio: i.e., only the firing of Cassio will calm the riot and restore normalcy.

277   shall you have a shorter journey to your desires by
278   the means I shall then have to prefer them; and the
278. prefer them: i.e., give your desires advantages.

279   impediment most profitably removed, without the
280   which there were no expectation of our prosperity.

281   I will do this, if I can bring it to any
282   opportunity.

283. I warrant thee: I guarantee you'll have opportunity. by and by: immediately.
283   I warrant thee. Meet me by and by at the citadel:
284   I must fetch his necessaries ashore. Farewell.

285   Adieu.


286   That Cassio loves her, I do well believe it;
287   That she loves him, 'tis apt and of great credit.
287. apt and of great credit: likely and credible.

288   The Moor, howbeit that I endure him not,
289   Is of a constant, loving, noble nature,
290   And I dare think he'll prove to Desdemona
291   A most dear husband. Now, I do love her too;
292   Not out of absolute lust, though peradventure
293   I stand accountant for as great a sin,
293. accountant: accountable.

294   But partly led to diet my revenge,
294. diet: feed.

295   For that I do suspect the lusty Moor
296   Hath leap'd into my seat; the thought whereof
297   Doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw my inwards;
298   And nothing can or shall content my soul
299   Till I am even'd with him, wife for wife,
300   Or failing so, yet that I put the Moor
301   At least into a jealousy so strong
302   That judgment cannot cure. Which thing to do,
303   If this poor trash of Venice, whom I trace
303. trace: put in harness; i.e., use for my own purposes.

304   For his quick hunting, stand the putting on,
304. stand . . .  on: be effective when the moment comes.

305   I'll have our Michael Cassio on the hip,
305. on the hip: in a position where I can throw him (wrestling term).

306   Abuse him to the Moor in the rank garb—
306. rank garb: coarse fashion.

307   For I fear Cassio with my night-cap too—
307. with my night-cap: i.e., as a sexual rival. Iago apparently believes that his wife might be having affairs with both Othello and Cassio.

308   Make the Moor thank me, love me and reward me.
309   For making him egregiously an ass
310   And practising upon his peace and quiet
311   Even to madness. 'Tis here, but yet confused:
312   Knavery's plain face is never seen till used.