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Othello :: Scenes :: Othello: Act I, Scene 1

Scene 1

Venice. A street.

(Roderigo; Iago; Brabantio; Servants)

Iago tells Roderigo why he hates Othello: he sought to be his lieutenant, but the foreigner Michael Cassio was preferred. Roderigo is distraught that Desdemona, whom he loves, has run off with the Moor Othello and married him; with Iago, he rouses Desdemona’s father Brabantio, who at first simply accuses Roderigo of making mischief, but soon has to admit that his daughter is missing. Not wishing to be recognized, Iago leaves, while Brabantio rouses his servants and forms a search party to hunt down Othello. ( line)

Enter Roderigo and Iago.

ROD.

Tush, never tell me! I take it much unkindly

That thou, Iago, who hast had my purse

As if the strings were thine, shouldst know of this.

IAGO.

’Sblood, but you’ll not hear me.

If ever I did dream of such a matter,

Abhor me.

ROD.

Thou toldst me thou didst hold him in thy hate.

IAGO.

Despise me if I do not. Three great ones of the city,

In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,

Off-capp’d to him; and, by the faith of man,

I know my price, I am worth no worse a place.

But he (as loving his own pride and purposes)

Evades them with a bumbast circumstance

Horribly stuff’d with epithites of war,

And in conclusion,

Nonsuits my mediators; for, “Certes,” says he,

“I have already chose my officer.”

And what was he?

Forsooth, a great arithmetician,

One Michael Cassio, a Florentine

(A fellow almost damn’d in a fair wife),

That never set a squadron in the field,

Nor the division of a battle knows

More than a spinster—unless the bookish theoric,

Wherein the toged consuls can propose

As masterly as he. Mere prattle, without practice,

Is all his soldiership. But he, sir, had th’ election;

And I, of whom his eyes had seen the proof

At Rhodes, at Cyprus, and on other grounds

Christen’d and heathen, must be belee’d and calm’d

By debitor and creditor—this counter—caster,

He (in good time!) must his lieutenant be,

And I (God bless the mark!) his Moorship’s ancient.

ROD.

By heaven, I rather would have been his hangman.

IAGO.

Why, there’s no remedy. ’Tis the curse of service;

Preferment goes by letter and affection,

And not by old gradation, where each second

Stood heir to th’ first. Now, sir, be judge yourself

Whether I in any just term am affin’d

To love the Moor.

ROD.

I would not follow him then.

IAGO.

O, sir, content you;

I follow him to serve my turn upon him.

We cannot all be masters, nor all masters

Cannot be truly follow’d. You shall mark

Many a duteous and knee-crooking knave

That (doting on his own obsequious bondage)

Wears out his time, much like his master’s ass,

For nought but provender, and when he’s old, cashier’d.

Whip me such honest knaves. Others there are

Who, trimm’d in forms and visages of duty,

Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves,

And throwing but shows of service on their lords,

Do well thrive by them; and when they have lin’d their coats,

Do themselves homage. These fellows have some soul,

And such a one do I profess myself. For, sir,

It is as sure as you are Roderigo,

Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago.

In following him, I follow but myself;

Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,

But seeming so, for my peculiar end;

For when my outward action doth demonstrate

The native act and figure of my heart

In complement extern, ’tis not long after

But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve

For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.

ROD.

What a full fortune does the thick-lips owe

If he can carry’t thus!

IAGO.

Call up her father.

Rouse him, make after him, poison his delight,

Proclaim him in the streets; incense her kinsmen,

And though he in a fertile climate dwell,

Plague him with flies. Though that his joy be joy,

Yet throw such changes of vexation on’t,

As it may lose some color.

ROD.

Here is her father’s house, I’ll call aloud.

IAGO.

Do, with like timorous accent and dire yell

As when, by night and negligence, the fire

Is spied in populous cities.

ROD.

What ho! Brabantio, Signior Brabantio, ho!

IAGO.

Awake! What ho, Brabantio! Thieves, thieves!

Look to your house, your daughter, and your bags!

Thieves, thieves!

Enter Brabantio above at a window.

BRA.

What is the reason of this terrible summons?

What is the matter there?

ROD.

Signior, is all your family within?

IAGO.

Are your doors lock’d?

BRA.

Why? Wherefore ask you this?

IAGO.

’Zounds, sir, y’ are robb’d! For shame, put on your gown;

Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul;

Even now, now, very now, an old black ram

Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise!

Awake the snorting citizens with the bell,

Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you.

Arise, I say!

BRA.

What, have you lost your wits?

ROD.

Most reverend signior, do you know my voice?

BRA.

Not I; what are you?

ROD.

My name is Roderigo.

BRA.

The worser welcome;

I have charg’d thee not to haunt about my doors.

In honest plainness thou hast heard me say

My daughter is not for thee; and now, in madness

(Being full of supper and distemp’ring draughts),

Upon malicious bravery dost thou come

To start my quiet.

ROD.

Sir, sir, sir—

BRA.

But thou must needs be sure

My spirits and my place have in their power

To make this bitter to thee.

ROD.

Patience, good sir.

BRA.

What tell’st thou me of robbing? This is Venice;

My house is not a grange.

ROD.

Most grave Brabantio,

In simple and pure soul I come to you.

IAGO.

’Zounds, sir, you are one of those that will not serve God, if the devil bid you. Because we come to do you service, and you think we are ruffians, you’ll have your daughter cover’d with a Barbary horse, you’ll have your nephews neigh to you; you’ll have coursers for cousins, and gennets for germans.

BRA.

What profane wretch art thou?

IAGO.

I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs.

BRA.

Thou art a villain.

IAGO.

You are a senator.

BRA.

This thou shalt answer; I know thee, Roderigo.

ROD.

Sir, I will answer any thing. But I beseech you,

If’t be your pleasure and most wise consent

(As partly I find it is) that your fair daughter,

At this odd-even and dull watch o’ th’ night,

Transported with no worse nor better guard

But with a knave of common hire, a gundolier,

To the gross clasps of a lascivious Moor—

If this be known to you, and your allowance,

We then have done you bold and saucy wrongs;

But if you know not this, my manners tell me

We have your wrong rebuke. Do not believe

That, from the sense of all civility,

I thus would play and trifle with your reverence.

Your daughter (if you have not given her leave),

I say again, hath made a gross revolt,

Tying her duty, beauty, wit, and fortunes

In an extravagant and wheeling stranger

Of here and every where. Straight satisfy yourself.

If she be in her chamber or your house,

Let loose on me the justice of the state

For thus deluding you.

BRA.

Strike on the tinder, ho!

Give me a taper! Call up all my people!

This accident is not unlike my dream,

Belief of it oppresses me already.

Light, I say, light!

Exit above.

IAGO.

Farewell; for I must leave you.

It seems not meet, nor wholesome to my place,

To be producted (as, if I stay, I shall)

Against the Moor; for I do know the state

(How ever this may gall him with some check)

Cannot with safety cast him, for he’s embark’d

With such loud reason to the Cyprus wars

(Which even now stands in act) that, for their souls,

Another of his fathom they have none

To lead their business; in which regard,

Though I do hate him as I do hell-pains,

Yet, for necessity of present life,

I must show out a flag and sign of love,

Which is indeed but sign. That you shall surely find him,

Lead to the Sagittary the raised search;

And there will I be with him. So farewell.

Exit.

Enter below Brabantio in his night-gown with Servants and torches.

BRA.

It is too true an evil; gone she is;

And what’s to come of my despised time

Is nought but bitterness. Now, Roderigo,

Where didst thou see her?—O unhappy girl!—

With the Moor, say’st thou?—Who would be a father!—

How didst thou know ’twas she?—O, she deceives me

Past thought!—What said she to you?—Get more tapers;

Raise all my kindred.—Are they married, think you?

ROD.

Truly, I think they are.

BRA.

O heaven! How got she out? O treason of the blood!

Fathers, from hence trust not your daughters’ minds

By what you see them act. Is there not charms

By which the property of youth and maidhood

May be abus’d? Have you not read, Roderigo,

Of some such thing?

ROD.

Yes, sir, I have indeed.

BRA.

Call up my brother.—O would you had had her!—

Some one way, some another.—Do you know

Where we may apprehend her and the Moor?

ROD.

I think I can discover him, if you please

To get good guard and go along with me.

BRA.

Pray you lead on. At every house I’ll call

(I may command at most).—Get weapons, ho!

And raise some special officers of night.—

On, good Roderigo, I will deserve your pains.

Exeunt.

 
 
 
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