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Othello Scenes

Scene 4

Cyprus. Before the castle.

(Desdemona; Emilia; Clown; Othello; Iago; Cassio; Bianca)

Desdemona sends the clown to fetch Cassio. She is worried about having lost her handkerchief, but Emilia does not tell her what she knows where it has gone. Still, Desdemona insists that Othello is not the jealous type, and states her determination to nag him until he restores Cassio to his position as lieutenant. Othello comes in, and when Desdemona asks him about Cassio, he claims to have a cold and asks to borrow her handkerchief. Desdemona says she doesn’t have it on her, and he tells her off for it, saying that it is a magical handkerchief, the loss of which will make him hate her. Desdemona is horrified at the thought, and Othello accuses her of losing it; she says that she simply left it at home. She tries to get him off his obsession with the handkerchief by bringing up Cassio again, but this merely enrages him until he stalks away. Desdemona is hurt, while Emilia expresses her low opinion of men. Cassio and Iago appear, Cassio asking Desdemona again for her help, but she has to explain that Othello is not himself. Iago pretends concern and goes off to find out what the matter is. Desdemona chides herself for bothering Othello when clearly some matter of state is occupying his thoughts, though Emilia is skeptical. The ladies leave. Cassio meets his lady-friend Bianca, who is angry with him for leaving her alone for so long; he asks her to take out the embroidery of the handkerchief he found in his room, and she accuses him of having a new lover. He tells her to be quiet and asks her to leave him alone, not wanting Othello to see him with a woman in case it hurts his suit. He promises to see her soon. (215 lines)

Enter Desdemona, Emilia, and Clown.


Do you know, sirrah, where Lieutenant Cassio lies?


I dare not say he lies any where.


Why, man?


He’s a soldier, and for me to say a soldier lies, ’tis stabbing.


Go to! Where lodges he?


To tell you where he lodges, is to tell you where I lie.


Can any thing be made of this?


I know not where he lodges, and for me to devise a lodging and say he lies here, or he lies there, were to lie in mine own throat.


Can you inquire him out, and be edified by report?


I will catechize the world for him, that is, make questions, and by them answer.


Seek him, bid him come hither. Tell him I have mov’d my lord on his behalf, and hope all will be well.


To do this is within the compass of man’s wit, and therefore I will attempt the doing it.

Exit Clown.


Where should I lose the handkerchief, Emilia?


I know not, madam.


Believe me, I had rather have lost my purse

Full of crusadoes; and but my noble Moor

Is true of mind, and made of no such baseness

As jealous creatures are, it were enough

To put him to ill thinking.


Is he not jealous?


Who, he? I think the sun where he was born

Drew all such humors from him.


Look where he comes.

Enter Othello.


I will not leave him now till Cassio

Be call’d to him.—How is’t with you, my lord?


Well, my good lady.


O, hardness to dissemble!—

How do you, Desdemona?


Well, my good lord.


Give me your hand. This hand is moist, my lady.


It yet hath felt no age nor known no sorrow.


This argues fruitfulness and liberal heart;

Hot, hot, and moist. This hand of yours requires

A sequester from liberty: fasting and prayer,

Much castigation, exercise devout,

For here’s a young and sweating devil here

That commonly rebels. ’Tis a good hand,

A frank one.


You may, indeed, say so;

For ’twas that hand that gave away my heart.


A liberal hand. The hearts of old gave hands;

But our new heraldry is hands, not hearts.


I cannot speak of this. Come now, your promise.


What promise, chuck?


I have sent to bid Cassio come speak with you.


I have a salt and sorry rheum offends me;

Lend me thy handkerchief.


Here, my lord.


That which I gave you.


I have it not about me.




No, faith, my lord.


That’s a fault. That handkerchief

Did an Egyptian to my mother give;

She was a charmer, and could almost read

The thoughts of people. She told her, while she kept it,

’Twould make her amiable, and subdue my father

Entirely to her love; but if she lost it,

Or made a gift of it, my father’s eye

Should hold her loathed, and his spirits should hunt

After new fancies. She, dying, gave it me,

And bid me, when my fate would have me wiv’d,

To give it her. I did so; and take heed on’t,

Make it a darling like your precious eye.

To lose’t or give’t away were such perdition

As nothing else could match.


Is’t possible?


’Tis true; there’s magic in the web of it.

A sibyl, that had numb’red in the world

The sun to course two hundred compasses,

In her prophetic fury sew’d the work;

The worms were hallowed that did breed the silk,

And it was dy’d in mummy which the skillful

Conserv’d of maidens’ hearts.


I’ faith! Is’t true?


Most veritable, therefore look to’t well.


Then would to God that I had never seen’t!


Ha? Wherefore?


Why do you speak so startingly and rash?


Is’t lost? Is’t gone? Speak, is’t out o’ th’ way?


Heaven bless us!


Say you?


It is not lost; but what and if it were?




I say, it is not lost.


Fetch’t, let me see’t.


Why, so I can, sir, but I will not now.

This is a trick to put me from my suit.

Pray you let Cassio be receiv’d again.


Fetch me the handkerchief, my mind misgives.


Come, come;

You’ll never meet a more sufficient man.


The handkerchief!


I pray talk me of Cassio.


The handkerchief!


A man that all his time

Hath founded his good fortunes on your love,

Shar’d dangers with you—


The handkerchief!


I’ faith, you are to blame.



Exit Othello.


Is not this man jealous?


I nev’r saw this before.

Sure, there’s some wonder in this handkerchief;

I am most unhappy in the loss of it.


’Tis not a year or two shows us a man:

They are all but stomachs, and we all but food;

They eat us hungerly, and when they are full

They belch us.

Enter Iago and Cassio.

Look you, Cassio and my husband!


There is no other way: ’tis she must do’t;

And lo the happiness! Go, and importune her.


How now, good Cassio, what’s the news with you?


Madam, my former suit. I do beseech you

That by your virtuous means I may again

Exist, and be a member of his love

Whom I, with all the office of my heart,

Entirely honor. I would not be delay’d.

If my offense be of such mortal kind

That nor my service past, nor present sorrows,

Nor purpos’d merit in futurity,

Can ransom me into his love again,

But to know so must be my benefit;

So shall I clothe me in a forc’d content,

And shut myself up in some other course,

To fortune’s alms.


Alas, thrice-gentle Cassio,

My advocation is not now in tune.

My lord is not my lord; nor should I know him

Were he in favor as in humor alter’d.

So help me every spirit sanctified,

As I have spoken for you all my best,

And stood within the blank of his displeasure

For my free speech! You must awhile be patient.

What I can do, I will; and more I will

Than for myself I dare. Let that suffice you.


Is my lord angry?


He went hence but now;

And certainly in strange unquietness.


Can he be angry? I have seen the cannon

When it hath blown his ranks into the air,

And like the devil from his very arm

Puff’d his own brother—and is he angry?

Something of moment then. I will go meet him.

There’s matter in’t indeed, if he be angry.


I prithee do so.

Exit Iago.

Something sure of state,

Either from Venice, or some unhatch’d practice

Made demonstrable here in Cyprus to him,

Hath puddled his clear spirit; and in such cases

Men’s natures wrangle with inferior things,

Though great ones are their object. ’Tis even so;

For let our finger ache, and it endues

Our other healthful members even to a sense

Of pain. Nay, we must think men are not gods,

Nor of them look for such observancy

As fits the bridal. Beshrew me much, Emilia,

I was (unhandsome warrior as I am)

Arraigning his unkindness with my soul;

But now I find I had suborn’d the witness,

And he’s indicted falsely.


Pray heaven it be state matters, as you think,

And no conception nor no jealous toy

Concerning you.


Alas the day, I never gave him cause.


But jealous souls will not be answer’d so;

They are not ever jealous for the cause,

But jealous for they’re jealous. It is a monster

Begot upon itself, born on itself.


Heaven keep the monster from Othello’s mind!


Lady, amen.


I will go seek him. Cassio, walk hereabout;

If I do find him fit, I’ll move your suit

And seek to effect it to my uttermost.


I humbly thank your ladyship.

Exeunt Desdemona and Emilia.

Enter Bianca.


’Save you, friend Cassio!


What make you from home?

How is’t with you, my most fair Bianca?

I’faith, sweet love, I was coming to your house.


And I was going to your lodging, Cassio.

What? Keep a week away? Seven days and nights?

Eightscore eight hours? And lovers’ absent hours,

More tedious than the dial eightscore times?

O weary reck’ning!


Pardon me, Bianca.

I have this while with leaden thoughts been press’d,

But I shall in a more continuate time

Strike off this score of absence. Sweet Bianca,

Giving her Desdemona’s handkerchief.

Take me this work out.


O Cassio, whence came this?

This is some token from a newer friend;

To the felt absence now I feel a cause.

Is’t come to this? Well, well.


Go to, woman!

Throw your vild guesses in the devil’s teeth,

From whence you have them. You are jealous now

That this is from some mistress, some remembrance;

No, by my faith, Bianca.


Why, whose is it?


I know not, neither; I found it in my chamber.

I like the work well; ere it be demanded

(As like enough it will) I would have it copied.

Take it, and do’t, and leave me for this time.


Leave you? Wherefore?


I do attend here on the general,

And think it no addition, nor my wish,

To have him see me woman’d.


Why, I pray you?


Not that I love you not.


But that you do not love me.

I pray you bring me on the way a little,

And say if I shall see you soon at night.


’Tis but a little way that I can bring you,

For I attend here; but I’ll see you soon.


’Tis very good; I must be circumstanc’d.

Exeunt omnes.


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