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 4, Scene 1


Othello and Iago
Laurence Fishburne as Othello and Kenneth Branagh as Iago
1995 film
           Enter OTHELLO and IAGO.

      IAGO
  1   Will you think so?

      OTHELLO
                        Think so, Iago!

      IAGO
                                      What,
  2   To kiss in private?

      OTHELLO
                         An unauthorized kiss.

      IAGO
  3   Or to be naked with her friend in bed
  4   An hour or more, not meaning any harm?

      OTHELLO
  5   Naked in bed, Iago, and not mean harm!
  6   It is hypocrisy against the devil:
  7   They that mean virtuously, and yet do so,
  8   The devil their virtue tempts, and they tempt heaven.

      IAGO
  9   So they do nothing, 'tis a venial slip;
 10   But if I give my wife a handkerchief —

      OTHELLO
 11   What then?

      IAGO
 12   Why, then, 'tis hers, my lord; and, being hers,
 13   She may, I think, bestow't on any man.

      OTHELLO
 14   She is protectress of her honor too:
 15   May she give that?

      IAGO
 16   Her honor is an essence that's not seen;
 17   They have it very oft that have it not:
17. They have it very oft that have it not: i.e., often individuals who have a reputation for honor don't have any honor.

 18   But, for the handkerchief —

      OTHELLO
 19   By heaven, I would most gladly have forgot it.
 20   Thou said'st (O, it comes o'er my memory,
 21   As doth the raven o'er the infected house,
21. raven o'er the infected house: This is an allusion to the belief that a raven would hover over a house of sickness or infection, such as one visited by the plague.

 22   Boding to all) he had my handkerchief.

      IAGO
 23   Ay, what of that?

      OTHELLO
                     That's not so good now.

      IAGO
                                                             What
 24   If I had said I had seen him do you wrong?
 25   Or heard him say — as knaves be such abroad,
25. abroad: around or about.

 26   Who having, by their own importunate suit,
 27   Or voluntary dotage of some mistress,
 28   Convinced or supplied them, cannot choose
28. Convinced or supplied them: Seduced or satisfied them.

 29   But they must blab —

      OTHELLO
                                     Hath he said any thing?

      IAGO
 30   He hath, my lord; but be you well assured,
 31   No more than he'll unswear.

      OTHELLO
                                                  What hath he said?

      IAGO
 32   Faith, that he did—I know not what he did.

      OTHELLO
 33   What? what?

      IAGO
 34   Lie—

      OTHELLO
                  With her?

      IAGO
                                  With her, on her; what you will.

      OTHELLO
 35   Lie with her! lie on her! We say lie on her, when
 36   they belie her. Lie with her! that's fulsome.
 37   —Handkerchief—confessions—handkerchief!—To
 38   confess, and be hanged for his labor;—first, to be
 39   hanged, and then to confess.—I tremble at it.
 40   Nature would not invest herself in such shadowing
 41   passion without some instruction. It is not words
40-41. Nature would not invest herself in such shadowing / passion without some instruction: i.e., It is not natural that I would feel such overwhelming ("shadowing") emotion without some foundation in fact. instruction: cause.

 42   that shake me thus. Pish! Noses, ears, and lips.
 43   —Is't possible?—Confess—handkerchief!—O devil!

           Falls in a trance.

Iago with foot on Othello who is in a trance
"Work on, my medicine, Work!"
Illustrator: H.C. Selous
      IAGO
 44   Work on,
 45   My medicine, work! Thus credulous fools are caught;
 46   And many worthy and chaste dames even thus,
 47   All guiltless, meet reproach. —What, ho! my lord!
 48   My lord, I say! Othello!

           Enter CASSIO.

 48                              How now, Cassio!

      CASSIO
 49   What's the matter?

      IAGO
 50   My lord is fall'n into an epilepsy.
 51   This is his second fit; he had one yesterday.

      CASSIO
 52   Rub him about the temples.

      IAGO
                                                   No, forbear;
 53   The lethargy must have his quiet course:
53. lethargy: morbid drowsiness. must have his quiet course: run its course quietly.

 54   If not, he foams at mouth and by and by
 55   Breaks out to savage madness. Look he stirs:
 56   Do you withdraw yourself a little while,
 57   He will recover straight: when he is gone,
 58   I would on great occasion speak with you.

           [Exit Cassio.]

 59   How is it, general? Have you not hurt your head?
59. hurt your head: Othello takes this as alluding to a cuckold's horns.


      OTHELLO
 60   Dost thou mock me?

      IAGO
                                      I mock you not, by heaven.
 61   Would you would bear your fortune like a man!

      OTHELLO
 62   A horned man's a monster and a beast.

      IAGO
 63   There's many a beast then in a populous city,
 64   And many a civil monster.
64. civil monster: i.e., monster among the citizenry.


      OTHELLO
 65   Did he confess it?

      IAGO
                                      Good sir, be a man;
 66   Think every bearded fellow that's but yoked
66. yoked: married.

 67   May draw with you. There's millions now alive
67. draw with you: i.e., share your fate as cuckold.

 68   That nightly lie in those unproper beds
68. lie in . . . peculiar: lie in beds which are not exclusively their own, which they dare to swear are their own. your case is better: Othello's case is better because he knows the truth.

 69   Which they dare swear peculiar: your case is better.
 70   O, 'tis the spite of hell, the fiend's arch-mock,
 71   To lip a wanton in a secure couch,
71. lip: kiss. secure: unsuspected.

 72   And to suppose her chaste! No, let me know;
 73   And knowing what I am, I know what she shall be.

      OTHELLO
 74   O, thou art wise; 'tis certain.

      IAGO
                                               Stand you awhile apart;
 75   Confine yourself but in a patient list.
75. Confine yourself but in a patient list: hold yourself within the bounds of patience.

 76   Whilst you were here o'erwhelmed with your grief—
 77   A passion most unsuiting such a man—
 78   Cassio came hither: I shifted him away,
 79   And laid good 'scuse upon your ecstasy,
79. laid good 'scuse upon your ecstasy: made a plausible excuse for you trance.

 80   Bade him anon return and here speak with me;
81. encave: conceal.
 81   The which he promised. Do but encave yourself,
 82   And mark the fleers, the gibes, and notable scorns,
82. fleers: sneers. notable scorns: obvious instances of disrespect.

 83   That dwell in every region of his face,
 84   For I will make him tell the tale anew:
 85   Where, how, how oft, how long ago, and when
 86   He hath, and is again to cope your wife.
86. cope: copulate with.

 87   I say, but mark his gesture. Marry, patience;
 88   Or I shall say you are all in all in spleen,
88. all in all in spleen: utterly governed by passionate impulses.

 89   And nothing of a man.

Othello spying from behind a wall
Illustrator: Kenny Meadows
      OTHELLO
                                         Dost thou hear, Iago?
 90   I will be found most cunning in my patience;
 91   But—dost thou hear?—most bloody.

      IAGO
                                                      That's not amiss;
 92   But yet keep time in all. Will you withdraw?

           [Othello hides himself where he can see
           what is happening.]

 93   Now will I question Cassio of Bianca,
 94   A huswife that by selling her desires
94. huswife: hussy.

 95   Buys herself bread and clothes: it is a creature
 96   That dotes on Cassio; as 'tis the strumpet's plague
96. strumpet: prostitute.

 97   To beguile many and be beguiled by one:
 98   He, when he hears of her, cannot refrain
 99   From the excess of laughter. Here he comes:

           Enter CASSIO.

100   As he shall smile, Othello shall go mad;
101   And his unbookish jealousy must construe
101. unbookish: uninstructed; ignorant. construe: interpret.

102   Poor Cassio's smiles, gestures and light behavior,
103   Quite in the wrong. How do you now, lieutenant?

      CASSIO
104   The worser that you give me the addition
104. the addition: the title of "lieutenant."

105   Whose want even kills me.
105. want: lack. Being addressed as "lieutenant" makes Cassio feel "worser" because he is no longer a lieutenant.


      IAGO
106   Ply Desdemona well, and you are sure on't.

           [Speaking "Bianca" lower, so Othello
           can't hear.]

107   Now, if this suit lay in Bianca's power,
108   How quickly should you speed!

      CASSIO
                                       Alas, poor caitiff!
108. caitiff: wretch.


      OTHELLO
109   Look, how he laughs already!

      IAGO
110   I never knew woman love man so.

      CASSIO
111   Alas, poor rogue! I think, i' faith, she loves me.

      OTHELLO
112   Now he denies it faintly, and laughs it out.
112. faintly: not very earnestly.


      IAGO
113   Do you hear, Cassio?

      OTHELLO
113                             Now he importunes him
114   To tell it o'er: go to; well said, well said.

      IAGO
115   She gives it out that you shall marry her:
116   Do you intend it?

      CASSIO
117   Ha, ha, ha!

      OTHELLO
118   Do you triumph, Roman? do you triumph?
118. Roman: the Romans were noted for their triumphal processions, called "triumphs."


      CASSIO
119   I marry her! what? a customer! Prithee,
119. customer: prostitute.

120   bear some charity to my wit: do not think
121   it so unwholesome. Ha, ha, ha!
121. unwholesome: unsound, sick.


      OTHELLO
122   So, so, so, so: they laugh that win.
122. they laugh that win: i.e., they that laugh last laugh best.


      IAGO
123   Faith, the cry goes that you shall marry her.

      CASSIO
124   Prithee, say true.

      IAGO
125   I am a very villain else.

      OTHELLO
126   Have you scor'd me? Well.
126. you: i.e., Cassio. scor'd me: scored off me, made a joke of me


      CASSIO
127   This is the monkey's own giving out. She is
127. the monkey's own giving out: i.e., Bianca's own story.

128   persuaded I will marry her, out of her own
128-129. her own / love and flattery: her self-love and self-satisfaction.

129   love and flattery, not out of my promise.

      OTHELLO
130   Iago beckons me; now he begins the
130. beckons: signals.

131   story.

      CASSIO
132   She was here even now; she haunts me in
133   every place. I was the other day talking on
134   the sea-bank with certain Venetians; and
135   thither comes the bauble, and, by this hand,
135. bauble: plaything; toy.

136   she falls me thus about my neck—

      OTHELLO
137   Crying "O dear Cassio!" as it were: his gesture
138   imports it.

      CASSIO
139   So hangs, and lolls, and weeps upon me; so hales,
139. hales: tugs.

140   and pulls me: ha, ha, ha!

      OTHELLO
141   Now he tells how she plucked him to my chamber.
142   O, I see that nose of yours, but not that dog I shall
143   throw it to.

      CASSIO
144   Well, I must leave her company.

      IAGO
145   Before me! look, where she comes.
145. Before me: i.e., on my soul.


           Enter BIANCA.

      CASSIO
146   'Tis such another fitchew! marry, a perfumed one.—
146. fitchew: polecat (thought to be very lecherous as well as strong smelling); also a slang word for prostitute.

147   What do you mean by this haunting of me?

      BIANCA
148   Let the devil and his dam haunt you! What did you
149   mean by that same handkerchief you gave me even
150   now? I was a fine fool to take it. I must take out the
151   work?—A likely piece of work, that you should
150-151. take out the work: i.e., sew another handkerchief with the same design.

152   find it in your chamber, and not know who left it
153   there! This is some minx's token, and I must take
154   out the work? There; give it your hobby-horse:
154. hobby-horse: harlot; woman of easy virtue.

155   wheresoever you had it, I'll take out no work on't.
Cassio; Bianca with the handkerchief
Patrick Vaill as Cassio; Natascia Diaz as Bianca
--Shakespeare Theatre Company, 2016--


      CASSIO
156   How now, my sweet Bianca! how now! how
157   now!

      OTHELLO
158   By heaven, that should be my handkerchief!

      BIANCA
159   An you'll come to supper tonight, you may;
160   an you will not, come when you are next
161   prepared for.

           Exit.

      IAGO
162   After her, after her.

      CASSIO
163   Faith, I must; she'll rail in the street else.

      IAGO
164   Will you sup there?

      CASSIO
165   Faith, I intend so.

      IAGO
166   Well, I may chance to see you; for I would
167   very fain speak with you.

      CASSIO
168   Prithee, come; will you?

      IAGO
169   Go to; say no more.

           [Exit Cassio.]

      OTHELLO [Coming out of hiding.]
170   How shall I murder him, Iago?

      IAGO
171   Did you perceive how he laughed at his vice?

      OTHELLO
172   O Iago!

      IAGO
173   And did you see the handkerchief?

      OTHELLO
174   Was that mine?

      IAGO
175   Yours by this hand: and to see how he prizes the
176   foolish woman your wife! she gave it him, and he
177   hath given it his whore.

      OTHELLO
178   I would have him nine years a-killing.
179   A fine woman! a fair woman! a sweet woman!

      IAGO
180   Nay, you must forget that.

      OTHELLO
181   Ay, let her rot, and perish, and be damned tonight;
182   for she shall not live: no, my heart is turned to
183   stone; I strike it, and it hurts my hand. O, the
184   world hath not a sweeter creature! she might lie by
185   an emperor's side and command him tasks.

      IAGO
186   Nay, that's not your way.
186. your way: your proper course, the direction your mind should take; i.e., the way you should think of her.


      OTHELLO
187   Hang her! I do but say what she is. So delicate
188   with her needle: an admirable musician! O, she
189   will sing the savageness out of a bear. Of so high
190   and plenteous wit and invention!

      IAGO
191   She's the worse for all this.

      OTHELLO
192   O, a thousand thousand times: and then, of so
192-193. of so gentle a condition: so nobly born and bred.

193   gentle a condition!

      IAGO
194   Ay, too gentle.
194. gentle: i.e., generous with her favors.


      OTHELLO
195   Nay, that's certain. But yet the pity of it, Iago!
196   O Iago, the pity of it, Iago!

      IAGO
197   If you are so fond over her iniquity, give her
197. fond: dotingly foolish.

198   patent to offend; for, if it touch not you, it comes
198. patent: license.

199   near nobody.

      OTHELLO
200   I will chop her into messes. Cuckold me!
200. messes: portions of food. i.e., little pieces.


      IAGO
201   O, 'tis foul in her.

      OTHELLO
202   With mine officer!

      IAGO
203   That's fouler.

      OTHELLO
204   Get me some poison, Iago; this night. I'll not
205   expostulate with her, lest her body and beauty
205. body and beauty: physical beauty.

206   unprovide my mind again. This night, Iago.

      IAGO
207   Do it not with poison, strangle her in her bed,
208   even the bed she hath contaminated.

      OTHELLO
209   Good, good: the justice of it pleases: very
210   good.

      IAGO
211   And for Cassio, let me be his undertaker: you
211. be his undertaker: be the one to undertake his killing.

212   shall hear more by midnight.

      OTHELLO
213   Excellent good.

           [A trumpet within.]

                                  What trumpet is that same?

      IAGO
214   I warrant something from Venice.

           Enter LODOVICO, DESDEMONA,
           and ATTENDANTS.

                                                             'Tis Lodovico—
215   This comes from the Duke. See, your wife's with him.

      LODOVICO
216   God save you, worthy general!

      OTHELLO
                                                        With all my heart, sir.
216. With all my heart: i.e., I heartily thank you.


      LODOVICO
217   The duke and senators of Venice greet you.

           [Gives him a letter.]

      OTHELLO
218   I kiss the instrument of their pleasures.

           [Opens the letter, and reads.]

      DESDEMONA
219   And what's the news, good cousin Lodovico?

      IAGO
220   I am very glad to see you, signior
221   Welcome to Cyprus.

      LODOVICO
222   I thank you. How does Lieutenant Cassio?

      IAGO
223   Lives, sir.

      DESDEMONA
224   Cousin, there's fall'n between him and my lord
225   An unkind breach; but you shall make all well.

      OTHELLO
226   Are you sure of that?

      DESDEMONA
227   My lord?

      OTHELLO [Reads.]
228   "This fail you not to do, as you
229   will—"

      LODOVICO
230   He did not call; he's busy in the paper.
231   Is there division 'twixt my lord and Cassio?

      DESDEMONA
232   A most unhappy one. I would do much
233   To atone them, for the love I bear to Cassio.
233. atone them: reconcile them.


      OTHELLO
234   Fire and brimstone!

      DESDEMONA
                                    My lord?

      OTHELLO
                                                  Are you wise?

      DESDEMONA
235   What, is he angry?

      LODOVICO
                              May be the letter moved him;
236   For, as I think, they do command him home,
237   Deputing Cassio in his government.
237. Deputing Cassio in his government: naming Cassio as his replacement.


      DESDEMONA
238   By my troth, I am glad on't.

      OTHELLO
                                                  Indeed!

      DESDEMONA
                                                               My lord?

      OTHELLO
239   I am glad to see you mad.
Othello slapping Desdemona

      DESDEMONA
                                           Why, sweet Othello,—

      OTHELLO [Striking her.]
240   Devil!

      DESDEMONA
241   I have not deserved this.

      LODOVICO
242   My lord, this would not be believed in Venice,
243   Though I should swear I saw't: 'tis very much:
244   Make her amends; she weeps.

      OTHELLO
                                                      O devil, devil!
245   If that the earth could teem with woman's tears,
245. teem with: breed, be made pregnant by.

246   Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile.
246. falls: lets fall. crocodile: Crocodiles were supposed to weep hypocritical tears for their victims.

247   Out of my sight!

      DESDEMONA
                                 I will not stay to offend you.

           [Going.]

      LODOVICO
248   Truly, an obedient lady:
249   I do beseech your lordship, call her back.

      OTHELLO
250   Mistress!

      DESDEMONA
                     My lord?

      OTHELLO
                                  What would you with her, sir?

      LODOVICO
251   Who, I, my lord?

      OTHELLO
252   Ay; you did wish that I would make her turn:
253   Sir, she can turn, and turn, and yet go on,
254   And turn again; and she can weep, sir, weep;
255   And she's obedient, as you say, obedient,
256   Very obedient. —Proceed you in your tears.—
257   Concerning this, sir,—O well-painted passion!—
258   I am commanded home. —Get you away;
259   I'll send for you anon. —Sir, I obey the mandate,
260   And will return to Venice. —Hence, avaunt!
260. avaunt: begone.


           [Exit Desdemona.]

261   Cassio shall have my place. And, sir, tonight,
262   I do entreat that we may sup together:
263   You are welcome, sir, to Cyprus.—Goats and monkeys!
263. Goats and monkeys!: Both animals were known to be extremely lecherous.


           Exit.

      LODOVICO
264   Is this the noble Moor whom our full senate
265   Call all in all sufficient? Is this the nature
266   Whom passion could not shake? whose solid virtue
267   The shot of accident, nor dart of chance,
268   Could neither graze nor pierce?

      IAGO
                                             He is much changed.

      LODOVICO
269   Are his wits safe? is he not light of brain?
269. safe: sound.


      IAGO
270   He's that he is; I may not breathe my censure
271   What he might be. If what he might he is not,
272   I would to heaven he were!
270-272. I may not . . . he were!: I dare not venture an opinion as to whether he's of unsound mind, as you suggest; but if he isn't, then it might be better to wish he were in fact insane, since only that could excuse his wild behavior.


      LODOVICO
                                           What, strike his wife!

      IAGO
273   'Faith, that was not so well; yet would I knew
274   That stroke would prove the worst!

      LODOVICO
                                                   Is it his use?
274. use: custom, habit.

275   Or did the letters work upon his blood,
275. blood: passions.

276   And new-create this fault?

      IAGO
                                                 Alas, alas!
277   It is not honesty in me to speak
278   What I have seen and known. You shall observe him,
279   And his own courses will denote him so
280   That I may save my speech: do but go after,
281   And mark how he continues.

      LODOVICO
282   I am sorry that I am deceived in him.

           Exeunt.