Cyprus. Before the castle.
(Othello; Iago; Cassio; Bianca; Lodovico; Desdemona; Attendants)
Iago continues to torment Othello, dropping suggestions into his ear while arguing that they are not great transgressions, which just works Othello up even more. He finally pushes Othello so far that the general becomes incoherent and finally falls down into a trance. Cassio enters and is concerned, but Iago tells him it’s merely an epileptic fit and asks him to leave. Reviving Othello, he proposes to have a chat with Cassio about Desdemona, letting Othello overhear. Othello agrees. What Iago actually does is talk to Cassio about Bianca, walking about so that Othello can only hear portions of the discussion. Cassio’s laughter as he mocks Bianca enrages Othello; even worse, Bianca herself arrives to rant at Cassio about the handkerchief, and Othello sees that Cassio has given that precious keepsake to a prostitute. Cassio runs after Bianca; Othello is now determined to kill both Cassio and Desdemona. Iago offers to take care of Cassio, recommending that Othello strangle Desdemona in her bed. Desdemona’s cousin Lodovico arrives from Venice with letters from the Senate that call Othello home and name Cassio the new governor of Cyprus. As Desdemona explains the situation to Lodovico, Othello hears her praises of Cassio and gets so worked up that he strikes out at her, to Lodovico’s amazement. When the Venetian protests and asks him to apologize to her, he merely sneers at her sarcastically, orders her to go home, and leaves himself. Lodovico worries for his wits, and Iago implies that what he saw is by no means the worst. (265 lines)
Enter Othello and Iago.
Will you think so?
Think so, Iago?
To kiss in private?
An unauthoriz’d kiss!
Or to be naked with her friend in bed
An hour, or more, not meaning any harm?
Naked in bed, Iago, and not mean harm?
It is hypocrisy against the devil.
They that mean virtuously, and yet do so,
The devil their virtue tempts, and they tempt heaven.
If they do nothing, ’tis a venial slip;
But if I give my wife a handkerchief—
Why then ’tis hers, my lord, and being hers,
She may, I think, bestow’t on any man.
She is protectress of her honor too;
May she give that?
Her honor is an essence that’s not seen;
They have it very oft that have it not.
But for the handkerchief—
By heaven, I would most gladly have forgot it.
Thou saidst (O, it comes o’er my memory,
As doth the raven o’er the infectious house,
Boding to all) he had my handkerchief.
Ay; what of that?
That’s not so good now.
If I had said I had seen him do you wrong?
Or heard him say—as knaves be such abroad,
Who having by their own importunate suit,
Or voluntary dotage of some mistress,
Convinced or supplied them, cannot choose
But they must blab—
Hath he said any thing?
He hath, my lord, but be you well assur’d,
No more than he’ll unswear.
What hath he said?
Faith, that he did—I know not what he did.
With her? On her; what you will.
Lie with her? Lie on her? We say lie on her, when they belie her. Lie with her! ’Zounds, that’s fulsome! Handkerchief—confessions—handkerchief! To confess, and be hang’d for his labor—first to be hang’d, and then to confess. I tremble at it. Nature would not invest herself in such shadowing passion without some instruction. It is not words that shakes me thus. Pish! Noses, ears, and lips. Is’t possible? Confess? Handkerchief? O devil!
Falls in a trance.
My medicine, work! Thus credulous fools are caught,
And many worthy and chaste dames even thus
(All guiltless) meet reproach.—What ho! My lord!
My lord, I say! Othello!
How now, Cassio?
What’s the matter?
My lord is fall’n into an epilepsy.
This is his second fit; he had one yesterday.
Rub him about the temples.
The lethargy must have his quiet course;
If not, he foams at mouth, and by and by
Breaks out to savage madness. Look, he stirs.
Do you withdraw yourself a little while,
He will recover straight. When he is gone,
I would on great occasion speak with you.
How is it, general? Have you not hurt your head?
Dost thou mock me?
I mock you not, by heaven.
Would you would bear your fortune like a man!
A horned man’s a monster and a beast.
There’s many a beast then in a populous city,
And many a civil monster.
Did he confess it?
Good sir, be a man;
Think every bearded fellow that’s but yok’d
May draw with you. There’s millions now alive
That nightly lie in those unproper beds
Which they dare swear peculiar; your case is better.
O, ’tis the spite of hell, the fiend’s arch-mock,
To lip a wanton in a secure couch,
And to suppose her chaste! No, let me know,
And knowing what I am, I know what she shall be.
O, thou art wise; ’tis certain.
Stand you a while apart,
Confine yourself but in a patient list.
Whilst you were here o’erwhelmed with your grief
(A passion most unsuiting such a man),
Cassio came hither. I shifted him away,
And laid good ’scuses upon your ecstasy;
Bade him anon return and here speak with me,
The which he promis’d. Do but encave yourself,
And mark the fleers, the gibes, and notable scorns
That dwell in every region of his face,
For I will make him tell the tale anew:
Where, how, how oft, how long ago, and when
He hath, and is again to cope your wife.
I say, but mark his gesture. Marry, patience,
Or I shall say y’ are all in all in spleen,
And nothing of a man.
Dost thou hear, Iago,
I will be found most cunning in my patience;
But (dost thou hear) most bloody.
That’s not amiss,
But yet keep time in all. Will you withdraw?
Now will I question Cassio of Bianca,
A huswife that by selling her desires
Buys herself bread and clothes. It is a creature
That dotes on Cassio (as ’tis the strumpet’s plague
To beguile many and be beguil’d by one);
He, when he hears of her, cannot restrain
From the excess of laughter. Here he comes.
As he shall smile, Othello shall go mad;
And his unbookish jealousy must construe
Poor Cassio’s smiles, gestures, and light behaviors
Quite in the wrong. How do you now, lieutenant?
The worser that you give me the addition
Whose want even kills me.
Ply Desdemona well, and you are sure on’t.
Now, if this suit lay in Bianca’s pow’r,
How quickly should you speed!
Alas, poor caitiff!
Look how he laughs already!
I never knew woman love man so.
Alas, poor rogue, I think, i’ faith, she loves me.
Now he denies it faintly, and laughs it out.
Do you hear, Cassio?
Now he importunes him
To tell it o’er. Go to, well said, well said.
She gives it out that you shall marry her.
Do you intend it?
Ha, ha, ha!
Do you triumph, Roman? Do you triumph?
I marry her! What? A customer! Prithee bear some charity to my wit, do not think it so unwholesome. Ha, ha, ha!
So, so, so, so; they laugh that wins.
Faith, the cry goes that you marry her.
Prithee say true.
I am a very villain else.
Have you scor’d me? Well.
This is the monkey’s own giving out. She is persuaded I will marry her, out of her own love and flattery, not out of my promise.
Iago beckons me; now he begins the story.
She was here even now; she haunts me in every place. I was the other day talking on the sea-bank with certain Venetians, and thither comes the bauble, and by this hand, falls me thus about my neck—
Crying, “O dear Cassio!” as it were; his gesture imports it.
So hangs, and lolls, and weeps upon me; so hales and pulls me. Ha, ha, ha!
Now he tells how she pluck’d him to my chamber. O, I see that nose of yours, but not that dog I shall throw it to.
Well, I must leave her company.
Before me! Look where she comes.
’Tis such another fitchew! Marry, a perfum’d one!—What do you mean by this haunting of me?
Let the devil and his dam haunt you! What did you mean by that same handkerchief you gave me even now? I was a fine fool to take it. I must take out the work? A likely piece of work, that you should find it in your chamber, and know not who left it there! This is some minx’s token, and I must take out the work? There, give it your hobby-horse. Wheresoever you had it, I’ll take out no work on’t.
How now, my sweet Bianca? How now? How now?
By heaven, that should be my handkerchief!
An’ you’ll come to supper tonight, you may; an’ you will not, come when you are next prepar’d for.
After her, after her.
Faith, I must, she’ll rail in the streets else.
Will you sup there?
Faith, I intend so.
Well, I may chance to see you; for I would very fain speak with you.
Prithee come; will you?
Go to; say no more.
How shall I murder him, Iago?
Did you perceive how he laugh’d at his vice?
And did you see the handkerchief?
Was that mine?
Yours, by this hand. And to see how he prizes the foolish woman your wife! She gave it him, and he hath giv’n it his whore.
I would have him nine years a-killing. A fine woman! A fair woman! A sweet woman!
Nay, you must forget that.
Ay, let her rot, and perish, and be damn’d tonight, for she shall not live. No, my heart is turn’d to stone; I strike it, and it hurts my hand. O, the world hath not a sweeter creature! She might lie by an emperor’s side and command him tasks.
Nay, that’s not your way.
Hang her, I do but say what she is. So delicate with her needle! An admirable musician! O, she will sing the savageness out of a bear. Of so high and plenteous wit and invention!
She’s the worse for all this.
O, a thousand, a thousand times. And then of so gentle a condition!
Ay, too gentle.
Nay, that’s certain. But yet the pity of it, Iago! O Iago, the pity of it, Iago!
If you are so fond over her iniquity, give her patent to offend, for if it touch not you, it comes near nobody.
I will chop her into messes. Cuckold me!
O, ’tis foul in her.
With mine officer!
Get me some poison, Iago, this night. I’ll not expostulate with her, lest her body and beauty unprovide my mind again. This night, Iago.
Do it not with poison; strangle her in her bed, even the bed she hath contaminated.
Good, good; the justice of it pleases; very good.
And for Cassio, let me be his undertaker.
You shall hear more by midnight.
What trumpet is that same?
I warrant, something from Venice.
Enter Lodovico, Desdemona, and Attendants.
This comes from the Duke. See, your wife’s with him.
God save you, worthy general!
With all my heart, sir.
The Duke and the senators of Venice greet you.
Gives him a letter.
I kiss the instrument of their pleasures.
Opens the letter and reads.
And what’s the news, good cousin Lodovico?
I am very glad to see you, signior;
Welcome to Cyprus.
I thank you. How does Lieutenant Cassio?
Cousin, there’s fall’n between him and my lord
An unkind breach; but you shall make all well.
Are you sure of that?
“This fail you not to do, as you will—”
He did not call; he’s busy in the paper.
Is there division ’twixt my lord and Cassio?
A most unhappy one. I would do much
T’ atone them, for the love I bear to Cassio.
Fire and brimstone!
Are you wise?
What, is he angry?
May be th’ letter mov’d him;
For as I think, they do command him home,
Deputing Cassio in his government.
By my troth, I am glad on’t.
I am glad to see you mad.
Why, sweet Othello?
I have not deserv’d this.
My lord, this would not be believ’d in Venice,
Though I should swear I saw’t. ’Tis very much,
Make her amends; she weeps.
O devil, devil!
If that the earth could teem with woman’s tears,
Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile.
Out of my sight!
I will not stay to offend you.
Truly, an obedient lady:
I do beseech your lordship call her back.
What would you with her, sir?
Who, I, my lord?
Ay, you did wish that I would make her turn.
Sir, she can turn, and turn; and yet go on
And turn again; and she can weep, sir, weep;
And she’s obedient, as you say, obedient;
Very obedient—Proceed you in your tears.—
Concerning this, sir—O well-painted passion!—
I am commanded home.—Get you away;
I’ll send for you anon.—Sir, I obey the mandate,
And will return to Venice.—Hence, avaunt!
Cassio shall have my place. And, sir, tonight
I do entreat that we may sup together.
You are welcome, sir, to Cyprus.—Goats and monkeys!
Is this the noble Moor whom our full Senate
Call all in all sufficient? Is this the nature
Whom passion could not shake? Whose solid virtue
The shot of accident nor dart of chance
Could neither graze nor pierce?
He is much chang’d.
Are his wits safe? Is he not light of brain?
He’s that he is; I may not breathe my censure
What he might be. If what he might he is not,
I would to heaven he were!
What? Strike his wife?
Faith, that was not so well; yet would I knew
That stroke would prove the worst!
Is it his use?
Or did the letters work upon his blood,
And new-create this fault?
It is not honesty in me to speak
What I have seen and known. You shall observe him,
And his own courses will denote him so
That I may save my speech. Do but go after,
And mark how he continues.
I am sorry that I am deceiv’d in him.