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Othello Scenes

Scene 3

Cyprus. A castle hall.

(Othello; Desdemona; Cassio; Attendants; Iago; Montano; Gentlemen; Servants; Roderigo)

Othello gives the command of the night watch to Cassio before retiring with Desdemona to consummate their marriage. Iago makes some bluff comments about Desdemona to Cassio, who replies in courtly terms, and insists that the lieutenant drink with him and some other friends. Cassio tries to beg off, pleading that he has no head for wine, but Iago convinces him. Cassio is soon blind drunk, though he insists that he is not. Iago insinuates that he gets this way very often to Montano, who is shocked that Othello should give him such a responsible position. Roderigo begins a quarrel with Cassio, and Iago manages to manipulate this into a general brawl, setting off the alarm bell. Montano and Cassio begin to duel, and Cassio gravely wounds the older man. Othello enters and angrily commands everyone to behave themselves, then asks Iago to explain what happened. Iago pretends he can’t quite work out how the fight began, but subtly points to Cassio as the one at fault; Cassio can only mumble a request for pardon rather than explain anything. Seeing how badly Montano is wounded, Othello immediately strips Cassio of his rank of lieutenant, despite his friendship for the other man. Desdemona comes to see what the matter is; Othello quiets her and leads her home while putting Iago in charge of calming the town. As he slowly sobers up, Cassio bemoans the loss of his reputation, but Iago insists this is only a small setback and encourages him to ask Desdemona to intercede for him with Othello. Left alone, Iago congratulates himself for giving such genuinely good advice to Cassio, since he will turn it to his own advantage by convincing Othello that Desdemona is pleading for Cassio out of desire for him. Roderigo appears to complain that he is almost out of money, has been beaten up, and does not see anything going well for himself, but Iago reassures him, explaining that things take time and sending him off. Iago decides to have his wife plead to Desdemona on Cassio’s behalf as well, and to make Othello see Cassio talking to Desdemona. (299 lines)

Enter Othello, Desdemona, Cassio, and Attendants.


Good Michael, look you to the guard tonight.

Let’s teach ourselves that honorable stop,

Not to outsport discretion.


Iago hath direction what to do;

But notwithstanding with my personal eye

Will I look to’t.


Iago is most honest.

Michael, good night. Tomorrow with your earliest

Let me have speech with you.

To Desdemona.

Come, my dear love,

The purchase made, the fruits are to ensue;

That profit’s yet to come ’tween me and you.—

Good night.

Exit with Desdemona and Attendants.

Enter Iago.


Welcome, Iago; we must to the watch.


Not this hour, lieutenant; ’tis not yet ten o’ th’ clock. Our general cast us thus early for the love of his Desdemona; who let us not therefore blame. He hath not yet made wanton the night with her; and she is sport for Jove.


She’s a most exquisite lady.


And I’ll warrant her, full of game.


Indeed she’s a most fresh and delicate creature.


What an eye she has! Methinks it sounds a parley to provocation.


An inviting eye; and yet methinks right modest.


And when she speaks, is it not an alarum to love?


She is indeed perfection.


Well—happiness to their sheets! Come, lieutenant, I have a stoup of wine, and here without are a brace of Cyprus gallants that would fain have a measure to the health of black Othello.


Not tonight, good Iago, I have very poor and unhappy brains for drinking. I could well wish courtesy would invent some other custom of entertainment.


O, they are our friends—but one cup, I’ll drink for you.


I have drunk but one cup tonight—and that was craftily qualified too—and behold what innovation it makes here. I am infortunate in the infirmity, and dare not task my weakness with any more.


What, man? ’Tis a night of revels, the gallants desire it.


Where are they?


Here, at the door; I pray you call them in.


I’ll do’t, but it dislikes me.



If I can fasten but one cup upon him,

With that which he hath drunk tonight already,

He’ll be as full of quarrel and offense

As my young mistress’ dog. Now, my sick fool Roderigo,

Whom love hath turn’d almost the wrong side out,

To Desdemona hath tonight carous’d

Potations pottle-deep; and he’s to watch.

Three else of Cyprus, noble swelling spirits

That hold their honors in a wary distance,

The very elements of this warlike isle,

Have I tonight fluster’d with flowing cups,

And they watch too. Now ’mongst this flock of drunkards

Am I to put our Cassio in some action

That may offend the isle. But here they come.

Enter Cassio, Montano, and Gentlemen; Servants follow with wine.

If consequence do but approve my dream,

My boat sails freely, both with wind and stream.


’Fore God, they have given me a rouse already.


Good faith, a little one; not past a pint, as I am a soldier.


Some wine ho!


“And let me the canakin clink, clink;

And let me the canakin clink.

A soldier’s a man;

O, man’s life’s but a span;

Why then let a soldier drink.”

Some wine, boys!


’Fore God, an excellent song.


I learn’d it in England, where indeed they are most potent in potting; your Dane, your German, and your swag-bellied Hollander—Drink ho!—are nothing to your English.


Is your Englishman so exquisite in his drinking?


Why, he drinks you, with facility, your Dane dead drunk; he sweats not to overthrow your Almain; he gives your Hollander a vomit ere the next pottle can be fill’d.


To the health of our general!


I am for it, lieutenant; and I’ll do you justice.


O sweet England!


“King Stephen was and—a worthy peer,

His breeches cost him but a crown;

He held them sixpence all too dear,

With that he call’d the tailor lown;

He was a wight of high renown,

And thou art but of low degree.

’Tis pride that pulls the country down,

Then take thy auld cloak about thee.”

Some wine ho!


’Fore God, this is a more exquisite song than the other.


Will you hear’t again?


No; for I hold him to be unworthy of his place that does those things. Well, God’s above all; and there be souls must be sav’d, and there be souls must not be sav’d.


It’s true, good lieutenant.


For mine own part—no offense to the general, nor any man of quality—I hope to be sav’d.


And so do I too, lieutenant.


Ay; but by your leave, not before me; the lieutenant is to be sav’d before the ancient. Let’s have no more of this; let’s to our affairs.—God forgive us our sins!—Gentlemen, let’s look to our business. Do not think, gentlemen, I am drunk: this is my ancient, this is my right hand, and this is my left hand. I am not drunk now; I can stand well enough, and I speak well enough.


Excellent well.


Why, very well then; you must not think then that I am drunk.



To th’ platform, masters, come, let’s set the watch.

The Gentlemen follow Cassio off.


You see this fellow that is gone before:

He’s a soldier fit to stand by Caesar

And give direction; and do but see his vice,

’Tis to his virtue a just equinox,

The one as long as th’ other. ’Tis pity of him.

I fear the trust Othello puts him in,

On some odd time of his infirmity,

Will shake this island.


But is he often thus?


’Tis evermore the prologue to his sleep.

He’ll watch the horologe a double set

If drink rock not his cradle.


It were well

The general were put in mind of it.

Perhaps he sees it not, or his good nature

Prizes the virtue that appears in Cassio,

And looks not on his evils. Is not this true?

Enter Roderigo.


Aside to him.

How now, Roderigo?

I pray you, after the lieutenant, go.

Exit Roderigo.


And ’tis great pity that the noble Moor

Should hazard such a place as his own second

With one of an ingraft infirmity;

It were an honest action to say

So to the Moor.


Not I, for this fair island.

I do love Cassio well; and would do much

To cure him of this evil.

Cry within:

“Help! Help!”

But hark, what noise?

Enter Cassio pursuing Roderigo.


’Zounds, you rogue! You rascal!


What’s the matter, lieutenant?


A knave teach me my duty? I’ll beat the knave into a twiggen bottle.


Beat me?


Dost thou prate, rogue?

Striking Roderigo.


Nay, good lieutenant; I pray you, sir, hold your hand.

Staying him.


Let me go, sir, or I’ll knock you o’er the mazzard.


Come, come—you’re drunk.



They fight.


Aside to Roderigo.

Away, I say; go out and cry a mutiny.

Exit Roderigo.

Nay, good lieutenant—God’s will, gentlemen—

Help ho!—lieutenant—sir—Montano—sir—

Help, masters!—Here’s a goodly watch indeed!

A bell rung.

Who’s that which rings the bell? Diablo, ho!

The town will rise. God’s will, lieutenant, hold!

You’ll be asham’d forever.

Enter Othello and Gentlemen with weapons.


What is the matter here?


’Zounds, I bleed still,

I am hurt to th’ death. He dies.

Assailing Cassio again.


Hold, for your lives!


Hold ho! Lieutenant—sir—Montano—gentlemen—

Have you forgot all place of sense and duty?

Hold! The general speaks to you; hold, for shame!


Why, how now ho? From whence ariseth this?

Are we turn’d Turks, and to ourselves do that

Which heaven hath forbid the Ottomites?

For Christian shame, put by this barbarous brawl.

He that stirs next to carve for his own rage

Holds his soul light; he dies upon his motion.

Silence that dreadful bell, it frights the isle

From her propriety. What is the matter, masters?

Honest Iago, that looks dead with grieving,

Speak: who began this? On thy love, I charge thee!


I do not know. Friends all, but now, even now;

In quarter, and in terms like bride and groom

Devesting them for bed; and then, but now

(As if some planet had unwitted men),

Swords out, and tilting one at other’s breast,

In opposition bloody. I cannot speak

Any beginning to this peevish odds;

And would in action glorious I had lost

Those legs that brought me to a part of it.


How comes it, Michael, you are thus forgot?


I pray you pardon me, I cannot speak.


Worthy Montano, you were wont to be civil;

The gravity and stillness of your youth

The world hath noted, and your name is great

In mouths of wisest censure. What’s the matter

That you unlace your reputation thus,

And spend your rich opinion for the name

Of a night-brawler? Give me answer to it.


Worthy Othello, I am hurt to danger.

Your officer, Iago, can inform you—

While I spare speech, which something now offends me—

Of all that I do know, nor know I aught

By me that’s said or done amiss this night,

Unless self-charity be sometimes a vice,

And to defend ourselves it be a sin

When violence assails us.


Now by heaven,

My blood begins my safer guides to rule,

And passion, having my best judgment collied,

Assays to lead the way. ’Zounds, if I stir,

Or do but lift this arm, the best of you

Shall sink in my rebuke. Give me to know

How this foul rout began; who set it on;

And he that is approv’d in this offense,

Though he had twinn’d with me, both at a birth,

Shall lose me. What, in a town of war,

Yet wild, the people’s hearts brimful of fear,

To manage private and domestic quarrel?

In night, and on the court and guard of safety?

’Tis monstrous. Iago, who began’t?


If partially affin’d, or leagu’d in office,

Thou dost deliver more or less than truth,

Thou art no soldier.


Touch me not so near;

I had rather have this tongue cut from my mouth

Than it should do offense to Michael Cassio;

Yet I persuade myself, to speak the truth

Shall nothing wrong him. Thus it is, general:

Montano and myself being in speech,

There comes a fellow crying out for help,

And Cassio following him with determin’d sword

To execute upon him. Sir, this gentleman

Steps in to Cassio and entreats his pause;

Myself the crying fellow did pursue,

Lest by his clamor (as it so fell out)

The town might fall in fright. He, swift of foot,

Outran my purpose; and I return’d the rather

For that I heard the clink and fall of swords,

And Cassio high in oath; which till tonight

I ne’er might say before. When I came back

(For this was brief), I found them close together

At blow and thrust, even as again they were

When you yourself did part them.

More of this matter cannot I report.

But men are men; the best sometimes forget.

Though Cassio did some little wrong to him,

As men in rage strike those that wish them best,

Yet surely Cassio, I believe, receiv’d

From him that fled some strange indignity

Which patience could not pass.


I know, Iago,

Thy honesty and love doth mince this matter,

Making it light to Cassio. Cassio, I love thee,

But never more be officer of mine.

Enter Desdemona attended.

Look if my gentle love be not rais’d up!

I’ll make thee an example.


What is the matter, dear?


All’s well now, sweeting;

Come away to bed.

To Montano.

Sir, for your hurts,

Myself will be your surgeon.—Lead him off.

Some lead Montano off.

Iago, look with care about the town,

And silence those whom this vild brawl distracted.

Come, Desdemona, ’tis the soldiers’ life

To have their balmy slumbers wak’d with strife.

Exit with Desdemona, Gentlemen, and Attendants.


What, are you hurt, lieutenant?


Ay, past all surgery.


Marry, God forbid!


Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation, Iago, my reputation!


As I am an honest man, I had thought you had receiv’d some bodily wound; there is more sense in that than in reputation. Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit, and lost without deserving. You have lost no reputation at all, unless you repute yourself such a loser. What, man, there are more ways to recover the general again. You are but now cast in his mood, a punishment more in policy than in malice, even so as one would beat his offenseless dog to affright an imperious lion. Sue to him again, and he’s yours.


I will rather sue to be despis’d than to deceive so good a commander with so slight, so drunken, and so indiscreet an officer. Drunk? And speak parrot? And squabble? Swagger? Swear? And discourse fustian with one’s own shadow? O thou invisible spirit of wine, if thou hast no name to be known by, let us call thee devil!


What was he that you follow’d with your sword? What had he done to you?


I know not.


Is’t possible?


I remember a mass of things, but nothing distinctly; a quarrel, but nothing wherefore. O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains! That we should, with joy, pleasance, revel, and applause, transform ourselves into beasts!


Why, but you are now well enough. How came you thus recover’d?


It hath pleas’d the devil drunkenness to give place to the devil wrath: one unperfectness shows me another, to make me frankly despise myself.


Come, you are too severe a moraler. As the time, the place, and the condition of this country stands, I could heartily wish this had not befall’n; but since it is as it is, mend it for your own good.


I will ask him for my place again, he shall tell me I am a drunkard! Had I as many mouths as Hydra, such an answer would stop them all. To be now a sensible man, by and by a fool, and presently a beast! O strange! Every inordinate cup is unbless’d, and the ingredient is a devil.


Come, come; good wine is a good familiar creature, if it be well us’d; exclaim no more against it. And, good lieutenant, I think you think I love you.


I have well approv’d it, sir. I drunk!


You, or any man living, may be drunk at a time, man. I’ll tell you what you shall do. Our general’s wife is now the general—I may say so in this respect, for that he hath devoted and given up himself to the contemplation, mark, and denotement of her parts and graces. Confess yourself freely to her; importune her help to put you in your place again. She is of so free, so kind, so apt, so bless’d a disposition, she holds it a vice in her goodness not to do more than she is requested. This broken joint between you and her husband entreat her to splinter; and my fortunes against any lay worth naming, this crack of your love shall grow stronger than it was before.


You advise me well.


I protest, in the sincerity of love and honest kindness.


I think it freely; and betimes in the morning I will beseech the virtuous Desdemona to undertake for me. I am desperate of my fortunes if they check me here.


You are in the right. Good night, lieutenant, I must to the watch.


Good night, honest Iago.

Exit Cassio.


And what’s he then that says I play the villain,

When this advice is free I give, and honest,

Probal to thinking, and indeed the course

To win the Moor again? For ’tis most easy

Th’ inclining Desdemona to subdue

In any honest suit; she’s fram’d as fruitful

As the free elements. And then for her

To win the Moor, were’t to renounce his baptism,

All seals and symbols of redeemed sin,

His soul is so enfetter’d to her love,

That she may make, unmake, do what she list,

Even as her appetite shall play the god

With his weak function. How am I then a villain,

To counsel Cassio to this parallel course,

Directly to his good? Divinity of hell!

When devils will the blackest sins put on,

They do suggest at first with heavenly shows,

As I do now; for whiles this honest fool

Plies Desdemona to repair his fortune,

And she for him pleads strongly to the Moor,

I’ll pour this pestilence into his ear—

That she repeals him for her body’s lust,

And by how much she strives to do him good,

She shall undo her credit with the Moor.

So will I turn her virtue into pitch,

And out of her own goodness make the net

That shall enmesh them all.

Enter Roderigo.

How now, Roderigo?


I do follow here in the chase, not like a hound that hunts, but one that fills up the cry. My money is almost spent; I have been tonight exceedingly well cudgell’d; and I think the issue will be, I shall have so much experience for my pains; and so, with no money at all and a little more wit, return again to Venice.


How poor are they that have not patience!

What wound did ever heal but by degrees?

Thou know’st we work by wit, and not by witchcraft,

And wit depends on dilatory time.

Does’t not go well? Cassio hath beaten thee,

And thou by that small hurt hast cashier’d Cassio.

Though other things grow fair against the sun,

Yet fruits that blossom first will first be ripe.

Content thyself a while. By the mass, ’tis morning;

Pleasure and action make the hours seem short.

Retire thee, go where thou art billeted.

Away, I say, thou shalt know more hereafter.

Nay, get thee gone.

Exit Roderigo.

Two things are to be done:

My wife must move for Cassio to her mistress—

I’ll set her on—

Myself a while to draw the Moor apart,

And bring him jump when he may Cassio find

Soliciting his wife. Ay, that’s the way;

Dull not device by coldness and delay.



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