Venice. A council chamber.
(Duke; First Senator; Second Senator; Officers; Sailor; First Messenger; Brabantio; Othello; Cassio; Iago; Roderigo; Desdemona; Attendants)
The Duke and the senators look over the conflicting reports they are receiving about a Turkish fleet that seems to be aiming either for Rhodes or for Cyprus. They soon work out that the attack on Rhodes was merely a feint, and that Cyprus is the true target. Brabantio and Othello arrive; the Duke is glad to see Othello, who will lead the Venetian forces against the Turks, but Brabantio interrupts and insists on having his case against the Moor heard. He insists that Desdemona has been bewitched, and the Duke promises immediate vengeance until he hears that the accused is Othello. Things then get a bit more complicated, and Othello is asked to tell his version of what has happened. He admits to marrying Desdemona, but insists the only magic he used was telling stories of his life. Desdemona, sent for, confirms this, and explains that she now owes her obedience to her husband more than to her father. Brabantio unwillingly gives in, and begs that the subject be changed and that they get to affairs of state. Othello is commanded to leave at once for Cyprus; when the men discuss where Desdemona should stay while he is away, the lady speaks up and asks permission to follow her newly-wed husband to Cyprus. Brabantio tells Othello not to trust Desdemona, since if she is capable of betraying her father, she could do the same to her husband. Othello denies this. He entrusts Desdemona to Iago. Left alone with Roderigo, Iago bullies the young man out of his depressed insistence that he wishes to drown himself. Instead, Iago encourages him to disguise himself and follow them all to Cyprus, claiming that Desdemona will never put up with a black man for long, and that therefore Roderigo will have a chance at her when she gets bored with the novelty. Roderigo is convinced and goes to sell his lands for cash. Iago is delighted, since he tends to pillage Roderigo’s purse. He reflects on how he hates Othello, and believes that he has been cuckolded by the Moor. Hoping to destroy him if at all possible, Iago considers his options, and begins to see the outlines of a plan. (364 lines)
Enter Duke and Senators set at a table, with lights and Officers.
There’s no composition in these news
That gives them credit.
Indeed, they are disproportioned;
My letters say a hundred and seven galleys.
And mine, a hundred forty.
And mine, two hundred!
But though they jump not on a just accompt
(As in these cases where the aim reports,
’Tis oft with difference), yet do they all confirm
A Turkish fleet, and bearing up to Cyprus.
Nay, it is possible enough to judgment.
I do not so secure me in the error
But the main article I do approve
In fearful sense.
What ho, what ho, what ho!
A messenger from the galleys.
Now? What’s the business?
The Turkish preparation makes for Rhodes,
So was I bid report here to the state
By Signior Angelo.
How say you by this change?
This cannot be
By no assay of reason; ’tis a pageant
To keep us in false gaze. When we consider
Th’ importancy of Cyprus to the Turk,
And let ourselves again but understand
That, as it more concerns the Turk than Rhodes,
So may he with more facile question bear it,
For that it stands not in such warlike brace,
But altogether lacks th’ abilities
That Rhodes is dress’d in—if we make thought of this,
We must not think the Turk is so unskillful
To leave that latest which concerns him first,
Neglecting an attempt of ease and gain
To wake and wage a danger profitless.
Nay, in all confidence, he’s not for Rhodes.
Here is more news.
Enter the First Messenger.
The Ottomites, reverend and gracious,
Steering with due course toward the isle of Rhodes,
Have there injointed them with an after fleet.
Ay, so I thought. How many, as you guess?
Of thirty sail; and now they do restem
Their backward course, bearing with frank appearance
Their purposes toward Cyprus. Signior Montano,
Your trusty and most valiant servitor,
With his free duty recommends you thus,
And prays you to believe him.
Exit First Messenger.
’Tis certain then for Cyprus.
Marcus Luccicos, is not he in town?
He’s now in Florence.
Write from us to him, post-post-haste. Dispatch!
Here comes Brabantio and the valiant Moor.
Enter Brabantio, Othello, Cassio, Iago, Roderigo, and Officers.
Valiant Othello, we must straight employ you
Against the general enemy Ottoman.
I did not see you; welcome, gentle signior,
We lack’d your counsel and your help tonight.
So did I yours. Good your Grace, pardon me:
Neither my place, nor aught I heard of business,
Hath rais’d me from my bed, nor doth the general care
Take hold on me; for my particular grief
Is of so flood-gate and o’erbearing nature
That it engluts and swallows other sorrows,
And it is still itself.
Why? What’s the matter?
My daughter! O, my daughter!
Ay, to me:
She is abus’d, stol’n from me, and corrupted
By spells and medicines bought of mountebanks;
For nature so prepost’rously to err
(Being not deficient, blind, or lame of sense)
Sans witchcraft could not.
Who e’er he be that in this foul proceeding
Hath thus beguil’d your daughter of herself,
And you of her, the bloody book of law
You shall yourself read in the bitter letter
After your own sense; yea, though our proper son
Stood in your action.
Humbly I thank your Grace.
Here is the man—this Moor, whom now, it seems,
Your special mandate for the state affairs
Hath hither brought.
We are very sorry for’t.
What, in your own part, can you say to this?
Nothing, but this is so.
Most potent, grave, and reverend signiors,
My very noble and approv’d good masters:
That I have ta’en away this old man’s daughter,
It is most true; true I have married her;
The very head and front of my offending
Hath this extent, no more. Rude am I in my speech,
And little bless’d with the soft phrase of peace;
For since these arms of mine had seven years’ pith,
Till now some nine moons wasted, they have us’d
Their dearest action in the tented field;
And little of this great world can I speak
More than pertains to feats of broils and battle,
And therefore little shall I grace my cause
In speaking for myself. Yet (by your gracious patience)
I will a round unvarnish’d tale deliver
Of my whole course of love—what drugs, what charms,
What conjuration, and what mighty magic
(For such proceeding I am charg’d withal)
I won his daughter.
A maiden, never bold;
Of spirit so still and quiet that her motion
Blush’d at herself; and she, in spite of nature,
Of years, of country, credit, every thing,
To fall in love with what she fear’d to look on!
It is a judgment main’d, and most imperfect,
That will confess perfection so could err
Against all rules of nature, and must be driven
To find out practices of cunning hell
Why this should be. I therefore vouch again
That with some mixtures pow’rful o’er the blood,
Or with some dram (conjur’d to this effect)
He wrought upon her.
To vouch this is no proof,
Without more wider and more overt test
Than these thin habits and poor likelihoods
Of modern seeming do prefer against him.
But, Othello, speak.
Did you by indirect and forced courses
Subdue and poison this young maid’s affections?
Or came it by request, and such fair question
As soul to soul affordeth?
I do beseech you,
Send for the lady to the Sagittary,
And let her speak of me before her father.
If you do find me foul in her report,
The trust, the office I do hold of you,
Not only take away, but let your sentence
Even fall upon my life.
Fetch Desdemona hither.
Exeunt two or three.
Ancient, conduct them; you best know the place.
And, till she come, as truly as to heaven
I do confess the vices of my blood,
So justly to your grave ears I’ll present
How I did thrive in this fair lady’s love,
And she in mine.
Say it, Othello.
Her father lov’d me, oft invited me;
Still question’d me the story of my life
From year to year—the battles, sieges, fortunes,
That I have pass’d.
I ran it through, even from my boyish days
To th’ very moment that he bade me tell it;
Wherein I spoke of most disastrous chances:
Of moving accidents by flood and field,
Of hair-breadth scapes i’ th’ imminent deadly breach,
Of being taken by the insolent foe
And sold to slavery, of my redemption thence
And portance in my travel’s history;
Wherein of antres vast and deserts idle,
Rough quarries, rocks, and hills whose heads touch heaven,
It was my hint to speak—such was my process—
And of the Cannibals that each other eat,
The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads
Do grow beneath their shoulders. These things to hear
Would Desdemona seriously incline;
But still the house affairs would draw her thence,
Which ever as she could with haste dispatch,
She’ld come again, and with a greedy ear
Devour up my discourse. Which I observing,
Took once a pliant hour, and found good means
To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart
That I would all my pilgrimage dilate,
Whereof by parcels she had something heard,
But not intentively. I did consent,
And often did beguile her of her tears,
When I did speak of some distressful stroke
That my youth suffer’d. My story being done,
She gave me for my pains a world of sighs;
She swore, in faith ’twas strange, ’twas passing strange;
’Twas pitiful, ’twas wondrous pitiful.
She wish’d she had not heard it, yet she wish’d
That heaven had made her such a man. She thank’d me,
And bade me, if I had a friend that lov’d her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story,
And that would woo her. Upon this hint I spake:
She lov’d me for the dangers I had pass’d,
And I lov’d her that she did pity them.
This only is the witchcraft I have us’d.
Here comes the lady; let her witness it.
Enter Desdemona, Iago, Attendants.
I think this tale would win my daughter too.
Take up this mangled matter at the best;
Men do their broken weapons rather use
Than their bare hands.
I pray you hear her speak.
If she confess that she was half the wooer,
Destruction on my head if my bad blame
Light on the man! Come hither, gentle mistress.
Do you perceive in all this noble company
Where most you owe obedience?
My noble father,
I do perceive here a divided duty:
To you I am bound for life and education;
My life and education both do learn me
How to respect you; you are the lord of duty;
I am hitherto your daughter. But here’s my husband;
And so much duty as my mother show’d
To you, preferring you before her father,
So much I challenge that I may profess
Due to the Moor, my lord.
God be with you! I have done.
Please it your Grace, on to the state affairs.
I had rather to adopt a child than get it.
Come hither, Moor:
I here do give thee that with all my heart
Which but thou hast already, with all my heart
I would keep from thee. For your sake, jewel,
I am glad at soul I have no other child,
For thy escape would teach me tyranny,
To hang clogs on them. I have done, my lord.
Let me speak like yourself, and lay a sentence,
Which as a grise or step, may help these lovers
Into your favor.
When remedies are past, the griefs are ended
By seeing the worst, which late on hopes depended.
To mourn a mischief that is past and gone
Is the next way to draw new mischief on.
What cannot be preserv’d when Fortune takes,
Patience her injury a mock’ry makes.
The robb’d that smiles steals something from the thief;
He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.
So let the Turk of Cyprus us beguile,
We lose it not, so long as we can smile.
He bears the sentence well that nothing bears
But the free comfort which from thence he hears;
But he bears both the sentence and the sorrow
That, to pay grief, must of poor patience borrow.
These sentences, to sugar or to gall,
Being strong on both sides, are equivocal.
But words are words; I never yet did hear
That the bruis’d heart was pierced through the ear.
I humbly beseech you proceed to th’ affairs of state.
The Turk with a most mighty preparation makes for Cyprus. Othello, the fortitude of the place is best known to you; and though we have there a substitute of most allow’d sufficiency, yet opinion, a sovereign mistress of effects, throws a more safer voice on you. You must therefore be content to slubber the gloss of your new fortunes with this more stubborn and boist’rous expedition.
The tyrant custom, most grave senators,
Hath made the flinty and steel couch of war
My thrice-driven bed of down. I do agnize
A natural and prompt alacrity
I find in hardness; and do undertake
This present wars against the Ottomites.
Most humbly therefore bending to your state,
I crave fit disposition for my wife,
Due reference of place and exhibition,
With such accommodation and besort
As levels with her breeding.
If you please,
Be’t at her father’s.
I will not have it so.
Nor I; I would not there reside,
To put my father in impatient thoughts
By being in his eye. Most gracious Duke,
To my unfolding lend your prosperous ear,
And let me find a charter in your voice
T’ assist my simpleness.
What would you, Desdemona?
That I did love the Moor to live with him,
My downright violence, and storm of fortunes,
May trumpet to the world. My heart’s subdu’d
Even to the very quality of my lord.
I saw Othello’s visage in his mind,
And to his honors and his valiant parts
Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate.
So that, dear lords, if I be left behind,
A moth of peace, and he go to the war,
The rites for why I love him are bereft me,
And I a heavy interim shall support
By his dear absence. Let me go with him.
Let her have your voice.
Vouch with me, heaven, I therefore beg it not
To please the palate of my appetite,
Nor to comply with heat (the young affects
In me defunct) and proper satisfaction;
But to be free and bounteous to her mind.
And heaven defend your good souls, that you think
I will your serious and great business scant
For she is with me. No, when light-wing’d toys
Of feather’d Cupid seel with wanton dullness
My speculative and offic’d instruments,
That my disports corrupt and taint my business,
Let housewives make a skillet of my helm,
And all indign and base adversities
Make head against my estimation!
Be it as you shall privately determine,
Either for her stay or going; th’ affair cries haste,
And speed must answer it.
You must away tonight.
Tonight, my lord?
With all my heart.
At nine i’ th’ morning here we’ll meet again.
Othello, leave some officer behind,
And he shall our commission bring to you;
And such things else of quality and respect
As doth import you.
So please your Grace, my ancient;
A man he is of honesty and trust.
To his conveyance I assign my wife,
With what else needful your good Grace shall think
To be sent after me.
Let it be so.
Good night to every one.
And, noble signior,
If virtue no delighted beauty lack,
Your son-in-law is far more fair than black.
Adieu, brave Moor, use Desdemona well.
Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see;
She has deceiv’d her father, and may thee.
Exeunt Duke, Senators, Officers, etc.
My life upon her faith! Honest Iago,
My Desdemona must I leave to thee.
I prithee let thy wife attend on her,
And bring them after in the best advantage.
Come, Desdemona, I have but an hour
Of love, of wordly matter and direction,
To spend with thee. We must obey the time.
Exit with Desdemona.
What say’st thou, noble heart?
What will I do, think’st thou?
Why, go to bed and sleep.
I will incontinently drown myself.
If thou dost, I shall never love thee after. Why, thou silly gentleman?
It is silliness to live, when to live is torment; and then have we a prescription to die, when death is our physician.
O villainous! I have look’d upon the world for four times seven years, and since I could distinguish betwixt a benefit and an injury, I never found man that knew how to love himself. Ere I would say I would drown myself for the love of a guinea hen, I would change my humanity with a baboon.
What should I do? I confess it is my shame to be so fond, but it is not in my virtue to amend it.
Virtue? A fig! ’Tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus. Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners; so that if we will plant nettles or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up tine, supply it with one gender of herbs or distract it with many, either to have it sterile with idleness or manur’d with industry—why, the power and corrigible authority of this lies in our wills. If the beam of our lives had not one scale of reason to poise another of sensuality, the blood and baseness of our natures would conduct us to most prepost’rous conclusions. But we have reason to cool our raging motions, our carnal stings, our unbitted lusts; whereof I take this that you call love to be a sect or scion.
It cannot be.
It is merely a lust of the blood and a permission of the will. Come, be a man! Drown thyself? Drown cats and blind puppies! I have profess’d me thy friend, and I confess me knit to thy deserving with cables of perdurable toughness. I could never better stead thee than now. Put money in thy purse; follow thou the wars; defeat thy favor with an usurp’d beard. I say put money in thy purse. It cannot be long that Desdemona should continue her love to the Moor—put money in thy purse—nor he his to her. It was a violent commencement in her, and thou shalt see an answerable sequestration—put but money in thy purse. These Moors are changeable in their wills—fill thy purse with money. The food that to him now is as luscious as locusts, shall be to him shortly as acerb as the coloquintida. She must change for youth; when she is sated with his body, she will find the error of her choice. She must have change, she must; therefore put money in thy purse. If thou wilt needs damn thyself, do it a more delicate way than drowning. Make all the money thou canst. If sanctimony and a frail vow betwixt an erring barbarian and a super-subtle Venetian be not too hard for my wits and all the tribe of hell, thou shalt enjoy her; therefore make money. A pox of drowning thyself, it is clean out of the way. Seek thou rather to be hang’d in compassing thy joy than to be drown’d and go without her.
Wilt thou be fast to my hopes, if I depend on the issue?
Thou art sure of me—go make money. I have told thee often, and I retell thee again and again, I hate the Moor. My cause is hearted; thine hath no less reason. Let us be conjunctive in our revenge against him. If thou canst cuckold him, thou dost thyself a pleasure, me a sport. There are many events in the womb of time which will be deliver’d. Traverse, go, provide thy money. We will have more of this tomorrow. Adieu.
Where shall we meet i’ th’ morning?
At my lodging.
I’ll be with thee betimes.
Go to, farewell. Do you hear, Roderigo?
What say you?
No more of drowning, do you hear?
I am chang’d.
Go to, farewell. Put money enough in your purse.
I’ll sell all my land.
Thus do I ever make my fool my purse;
For I mine own gain’d knowledge should profane
If I would time expend with such a snipe
But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor,
And it is thought abroad that ’twixt my sheets
H’as done my office. I know not if’t be true,
But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,
Will do as if for surety. He holds me well,
The better shall my purpose work on him.
Cassio’s a proper man. Let me see now:
To get his place and to plume up my will
In double knavery—How? How?—Let’s see—
After some time, to abuse Othello’s ear
That he is too familiar with his wife.
He hath a person and a smooth dispose
To be suspected—fram’d to make women false.
The Moor is of a free and open nature,
That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,
And will as tenderly be led by th’ nose
As asses are.
I have’t. It is engend’red. Hell and night
Must bring this monstrous birth to the world’s light.