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-- 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 2



           Enter OTHELLO and EMILIA.

      OTHELLO
  1   You have seen nothing then?

      EMILIA
  2   Nor ever heard, nor ever did suspect.

      OTHELLO
  3   Yes, you have seen Cassio and she together.

      EMILIA
  4   But then I saw no harm, and then I heard
  5   Each syllable that breath made up between them.

      OTHELLO
  6   What, did they never whisper?

Othello Questioning Emilia about Desdemona
"To fetch her fan, her gloves, her mask, nor nothing?"
Anna Patrick as Emilia; Laurence Fishburne as Othello
1995 film
      EMILIA
                                                     Never, my lord.

      OTHELLO
  7   Nor send you out o' the way?

      EMILIA
  8   Never.

      OTHELLO
  9   To fetch her fan, her gloves, her mask, nor nothing?

      EMILIA
 10   Never, my lord.

      OTHELLO
 11   That's strange.

      EMILIA
 12   I durst, my lord, to wager she is honest,
 13   Lay down my soul at stake: if you think other,
 14   Remove your thought; it doth abuse your bosom.
 15   If any wretch have put this in your head,
 16   Let heaven requite it with the serpent's curse!
16. requite it: repay it; i.e., punish it. the serpent's curse: The curse laid by God on the serpent that tempted Eve.

 17   For, if she be not honest, chaste, and true,
 18   There's no man happy; the purest of their wives
 19   Is foul as slander.

      OTHELLO
                                    Bid her come hither: go.

           Exit Emilia.

 20   She says enough; yet she's a simple bawd
 21   That cannot say as much. This is a subtle whore,
20-21. yet she's . . . much: i.e., it's a stupid bawd who can't say the kind of things that Emilia has just said.

 22   A closet lock and key of villainous secrets
22. closet: place where private papers could be locked up.

 23   And yet she'll kneel and pray; I have seen her do't.

           Enter DESDEMONA and EMILIA.

      DESDEMONA
 24   My lord, what is your will?

      OTHELLO
                                            Pray you, chuck, come hither.
24. chuck: a term of endearment.


      DESDEMONA
 25   What is your pleasure?

      OTHELLO
                                         Let me see your eyes;
 26   Look in my face.

      DESDEMONA
 26                              What horrible fancy's this?
26. fancy: hallucination.


      OTHELLO [To Emilia.]
 27   Some of your function, mistress;
27. Some of your function: go about your bawd's business [of standing watch outside the door].

 28   Leave procreants alone and shut the door;
28. procreants: mating couples.

 29   Cough, or cry "hem," if anybody come:
 30   Your mystery, your mystery: nay, dispatch.
30. mystery: profession; occupation.


           Exit Emilia.
Desdemona on her knees to Othello
Othello and Desdemona
by
Giuseppe Sabatelli


      DESDEMONA
 31   Upon my knees, what doth your speech import?
 32   I understand a fury in your words.
 33   But not the words.

      OTHELLO
 34   Why? What art thou?

      DESDEMONA
                                  Your wife, my lord; your true
 35   And loyal wife.

      OTHELLO
                                Come, swear it, damn thyself
 36   Lest, being like one of heaven, the devils themselves
36. being like one of heaven: looking like an angel.

 37   Should fear to seize thee: therefore be double damn'd:
 38   Swear thou art honest.

      DESDEMONA
 39   Heaven doth truly know it.

      OTHELLO
                   Heaven truly knows that thou art false as hell.

      DESDEMONA
 40   To whom, my lord? with whom? how am I false?

      OTHELLO
 41   Ah Desdemon! Away! away! away!

      DESDEMONA
 42   Alas the heavy day! Why do you weep?
 43   Am I the motive of these tears, my lord?
43. motive: moving force, cause.

 44   If haply you my father do suspect
 45   An instrument of this your calling back,
 46   Lay not your blame on me: If you have lost him,
 47   Why, I have lost him too.

      OTHELLO
                                             Had it pleased heaven
 48   To try me with affliction; had they rain'd
48. they: i.e., the gods; heavenly powers.

 49   All kinds of sores and shames on my bare head.
 50   Steep'd me in poverty to the very lips,
 51   Given to captivity me and my utmost hopes,
 52   I should have found in some place of my soul
 53   A drop of patience: but, alas, to make me
 54   A fixed figure for the time of scorn
 55   To point his slow unmoving finger at!
54-55. A fixed figure for the time of scorn / To point his slow unmoving finger at: i.e., a sitting duck anytime someone wants a target for scorn.

 56   Yet could I bear that too; well, very well:
 57   But there, where I have garner'd up my heart,
 58   Where either I must live, or bear no life;
 59   The fountain from the which my current runs,
59. fountain: source, spring.

 60   Or else dries up; to be discarded thence!
 61   Or keep it as a cistern for foul toads
 62   To knot and gender in! Turn thy complexion there,
62. knot: i.e., couple. gender: engender. Turn: change. there: at that point, when that happens.

 63   Patience, thou young and rose-lipp'd cherubin,—
 64   Ay, there, look grim as hell!
63-64. Patience . . . hell: i.e., even Patience, that rose-lipped cherub, will look grim and pale at this spectacle.


      DESDEMONA
 65   I hope my noble lord esteems me honest.
65. esteems me honest: believes me to be faithful.


      OTHELLO
 66   O, ay; as summer flies are in the shambles,
66. O, ay: Othello is being extremely sarcastic. shambles: slaughterhouse.

 67   That quicken even with blowing. O thou weed,
67. quicken even with blowing: i.e., come to life in an instant.

 68   Who art so lovely fair and smell'st so sweet
 69   That the sense aches at thee, would thou hadst
      ne'er been born!

      DESDEMONA
 70   Alas, what ignorant sin have I committed?

      OTHELLO
 71   Was this fair paper, this most goodly book,
 72   Made to write "whore" upon? What committed?
72. committed? Othello is outraged at Desdemona's idea that she has only committed a single mistake in ignorance.

 73   Committed? O thou public commoner!
73. commoner: prostitute.

 74   I should make very forges of my cheeks,
 75   That would to cinders burn up modesty,
 76   Did I but speak thy deeds. What committed!
 77   Heaven stops the nose at it and the moon winks,
77. winks: shuts her eyes [in disgust].

 78   The bawdy wind that kisses all it meets
 79   Is hush'd within the hollow mine of earth,
 80   And will not hear it. What committed?
 81   Impudent strumpet!
81. Impudent: shameless.


      DESDEMONA
                       By heaven, you do me wrong.

      OTHELLO
 82   Are you not a strumpet?

      DESDEMONA
                            No, as I am a Christian:
 83   If to preserve this vessel for my lord
83. vessel: i.e., body.

 84   From any other foul unlawful touch
 85   Be not to be a strumpet, I am none.

      OTHELLO
 86   What, not a whore?

      DESDEMONA
                        No, as I shall be saved.

      OTHELLO
 87   Is't possible?

      DESDEMONA
 88   O, heaven forgive us!

      OTHELLO
                          I cry you mercy, then:
88. cry you mercy: beg your pardon.

 89   I took you for that cunning whore of Venice
 90   That married with Othello.

           [Calling out to Emilia.]

                                                      You, mistress,

           Enter EMILIA.

 91   That have the office opposite to Saint Peter,
 92   And keeps the gate of hell! You, you, ay, you!
 93   We have done our course; there's money for your pains:
93. done our course: i.e., had sex.

 94   I pray you, turn the key and keep our counsel.
94. keep our counsel: keep our secrets.

Emilia saying to Desdemona, 'How do you, madam? how do you, my good lady?'
"How do you, madam? how do you, my good lady?"

           Exit.

      EMILIA
 95   Alas, what does this gentleman conceive?
 96   How do you, madam? how do you, my good lady?

      DESDEMONA
 97   'Faith, half asleep.
97. half asleep: i.e., dazed.


      EMILIA
 98   Good madam, what's the matter with my lord?

      DESDEMONA
 99   With who?

      EMILIA
100   Why, with my lord, madam.

      DESDEMONA
101   Who is thy lord?

      EMILIA
                                 He that is yours, sweet lady.

      DESDEMONA
102   I have none: do not talk to me, Emilia;
103   I cannot weep; nor answer have I none,
104   But what should go by water. Prithee, tonight
104. go by water: be rendered by tears.

105   Lay on my bed my wedding sheets: remember;
106   And call thy husband hither.

      EMILIA
                                                   Here's a change indeed!

           Exit.

      DESDEMONA
107   'Tis meet I should be used so, very meet.
107. meet: appropriate, fair. But Desdemona means the opposite.

108   How have I been behaved, that he might stick
109   The small'st opinion on my least misuse?
109. opinion: condemnation. my least misuse: the slightest misconduct on my part.


           Enter IAGO and EMILIA.

      IAGO
110   What is your pleasure, madam? How is't with you?

      DESDEMONA
111   I cannot tell. Those that do teach young babes
112   Do it with gentle means and easy tasks:
113   He might have chid me so; for, in good faith,
114   I am a child to chiding.

      IAGO
                                          What is the matter, lady?

      EMILIA
115   Alas, Iago, my lord hath so bewhored her.
116   Thrown such despite and heavy terms upon her,
117   As true hearts cannot bear.

      DESDEMONA
118   Am I that name, Iago?

      IAGO
                                      What name, fair lady?

      DESDEMONA
119   Such as she says my lord did say I was.

      EMILIA
120   He call'd her whore. A beggar in his drink
121   Could not have laid such terms upon his callet.
121. callet: whore.


      IAGO
122   Why did he so?
Desdemona, weeping, and Iago
Jessica Warbeck as Desdemona
Mark Rylance as Iago
Shakespeare's Globe, 2018


      DESDEMONA
123   I do not know; I am sure I am none such.

      IAGO
124   Do not weep, do not weep. Alas the day!

      EMILIA
125   Hath she forsook so many noble matches,
126   Her father and her country and her friends,
127   To be call'd whore? would it not make one weep?

      DESDEMONA
128   It is my wretched fortune.

      IAGO
                                               Beshrew him for't!
129   How comes this trick upon him?
129. trick: odd behavior.


      DESDEMONA
                                       Nay, heaven doth know.
129. Nay, heaven doth know: i.e., only heaven knows.


      EMILIA
130   I will be hang'd, if some eternal villain,
130. eternal: inveterate.

131   Some busy and insinuating rogue,
131. insinuating: worming his way into favor.

132   Some cogging, cozening slave, to get some office,
132. cogging: cheating. cozening: deceiving, defrauding.

133   Have not devised this slander; I will be hang'd else.

      IAGO
134   Fie, there is no such man; it is impossible.
134. there is no such man: Yes, there is such a man, and it is Iago.


      DESDEMONA
135   If any such there be, heaven pardon him!

      EMILIA
136   A halter pardon him! and hell gnaw his bones!
136. halter: hangman's noose.

137   Why should he call her whore? who keeps her company?
138   What place? what time? what form? what likelihood?
138. form: shape; i.e., specific circumstances.

139   The Moor's abused by some most villainous knave,
140   Some base notorious knave, some scurvy fellow.
141   O heaven, that such companions thou'ldst unfold,
141. companions: buddies, false friends. unfold: expose.

142   And put in every honest hand a whip
143   To lash the rascals naked through the world
144   Even from the east to the west!

      IAGO
                                            Speak within door.
144. within door: privately. Emilia is making Iago very nervous, as he is the "scurvy fellow" whose existence she has intuited.


      EMILIA
145   O, fie upon them! Some such squire he was
146   That turn'd your wit the seamy side without,
146. seamy side without: wrong side out.

147   And made you to suspect me with the Moor.

      IAGO
148   You are a fool; go to.

      DESDEMONA
                                      Alas, Iago,
149   What shall I do to win my lord again?
150   Good friend, go to him; for, by this light of heaven,
151   I know not how I lost him. Here I kneel:
152   If e'er my will did trespass 'gainst his love,
153   Either in discourse of thought or actual deed,
153. in discourse of thought: i.e., even in random thoughts.

154   Or that mine eyes, mine ears, or any sense,
155   Delighted them in any other form;
156   Or that I do not yet, and ever did.
157   And ever will—though he do shake me off
158   To beggarly divorcement—love him dearly,
159   Comfort forswear me! Unkindness may do much;
159. Unkindness: unnatural cruelty.

160   And his unkindness may defeat my life,
160. defeat: destroy.

161   But never taint my love. I cannot say "whore":
162   It does abhor me now I speak the word;
162. abhor me: fill me with abhorrence.

163   To do the act that might the addition earn
163. addition: title; i.e., "whore."

164   Not the world's mass of vanity could make me.

      IAGO
165   I pray you, be content; 'tis but his humor:
165. humor: mood.

166   The business of the state does him offence,
167   And he does chide with you.

      DESDEMONA
168   If 'twere no other—

      IAGO
                                  'Tis but so, I warrant.

           [Trumpets within.]

169   Hark, how these instruments summon to supper!
170   The messengers of Venice stays the meat;
170. stays the meat: wait to dine.

171   Go in, and weep not; all things shall be well.

           Exeunt Desdemona and Emilia.

           Enter RODERIGO.

172   How now, Roderigo!

      RODERIGO
173   I do not find that thou dealest justly with me.

      IAGO
174   What in the contrary?

      RODERIGO
175   Every day thou daffest me with some device, Iago;
175. daffest me with some device: put me off with some excuse.

176   and rather, as it seems to me now, keepest from me
177   all conveniency than suppliest me with the least
177. conveniency: i.e., opportunity to meet Desdemona.

178   advantage of hope. I will indeed no longer endure
179   it, nor am I yet persuaded to put up in peace what
179. to put up in peace : quietly put up with.

180   already I have foolishly suffered.

      IAGO
181   Will you hear me, Roderigo?

      RODERIGO
182   'Faith, I have heard too much, for your words and
183   performances are no kin together.

      IAGO
184   You charge me most unjustly.

      RODERIGO
185   With nought but truth. I have wasted myself out of
186   my means. The jewels you have had from me to
185-186. wasted myself out of my means: wasted all I have.

187   deliver to Desdemona would half have corrupted a
188   votarist: you have told me she hath received them
188. votarist: nun.

189   and returned me expectations and comforts of sudden
190   respect and acquaintance, but I find none.
189-190. sudden respect: immediate consideration.


      IAGO
191   Well; go to; very well.
191. go to: just keep it up.


      RODERIGO
192   Very well! go to! I cannot go to, man; nor 'tis
193   not very well: nay, I think it is scurvy, and begin
194   to find myself fopp'd in it.
194. fopp'd: made a fool of, duped.


      IAGO
195   Very well.

      RODERIGO
196   I tell you 'tis not very well. I will make myself
197   known to Desdemona: if she will return me my
198   jewels, I will give over my suit and repent my
198. my suit: my pursuit of her.

199   unlawful solicitation; if not, assure yourself I
200   will seek satisfaction of you.

      IAGO
201   You have said now.

      RODERIGO
202   Ay, and said nothing but what I protest intendment
202. protest intendment: vow a firm intent.

203   of doing.

      IAGO
Iago giving Roderigo a pep talk
Anthony Pedley as Roderigo
Bob Hoskins as Iago
1981 TV movie

204   Why, now I see there's mettle in thee, and even from
205   this instant to build on thee a better opinion than
206   ever before. Give me thy hand, Roderigo: thou hast
207   taken against me a most just exception; but yet, I
208   protest, I have dealt most directly in thy affair.

      RODERIGO
209   It hath not appeared.

      IAGO
210   I grant indeed it hath not appeared, and your
211   suspicion is not without wit and judgment. But,
212   Roderigo, if thou hast that in thee indeed, which I
213   have greater reason to believe now than ever, I mean
214   purpose, courage and valor, this night show it: if
215   thou the next night following enjoy not Desdemona,
216   take me from this world with treachery and devise
217   engines for my life.
217. engines for: plots against.


      RODERIGO
218   Well, what is it? is it within reason and
219   compass?
218-219. what is . . . compass: what is the plan? is it reasonable and doable?


      IAGO
220   Sir, there is especial commission come from Venice
221   to depute Cassio in Othello's place.

      RODERIGO
222   Is that true? why, then Othello and Desdemona
223   return again to Venice.

      IAGO
224   O, no; he goes into Mauritania and takes away with
225   him the fair Desdemona, unless his abode be
226   lingered here by some accident: wherein none can be
227   so determinate as the removing of Cassio.
227. determinate: effectual.


      RODERIGO
228   How do you mean, removing of him?

      IAGO
229   Why, by making him uncapable of Othello's place;
229. uncapable of Othello's place: incapable of taking Othello's place.

230   knocking out his brains.

      RODERIGO
231   And that you would have me to do?

      IAGO
232   Ay, if you dare do yourself a profit and a right.
233   He sups tonight with a harlotry, and thither will I
233. harlotry: harlot, whore.

234   go to him: he knows not yet of his honorable
235   fortune. If you will watch his going thence, which
236   I will fashion to fall out between twelve and one,
237   you may take him at your pleasure: I will be near
238   to second your attempt, and he shall fall between
239   us. Come, stand not amazed at it, but go along with
240   me; I will show you such a necessity in his death
241   that you shall think yourself bound to put it on
242   him. It is now high suppertime, and the night grows
243   to waste: about it.
242-243. grows to waste: is being wasted.


      RODERIGO
244   I will hear further reason for this.

      IAGO
245   And you shall be satisfied.

           Exeunt.