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ACT II SCENE III A hall in the castle. 
 Enter OTHELLO, DESDEMONA, CASSIO, and Attendants. 
OTHELLO Good Michael, look you to the guard to-night: 
 Let's teach ourselves that honourable stop, 
 Not to outsport discretion. 
CASSIO Iago hath direction what to do; 5
 But, notwithstanding, with my personal eye 
 Will I look to't. 
OTHELLO Iago is most honest. 
 Michael, good night: to-morrow with your earliest 
 Let me have speech with you. 10
 Come, my dear love, 
 The purchase made, the fruits are to ensue; 
 That profit's yet to come 'tween me and you. 
 Good night. 
 Exeunt OTHELLO, DESDEMONA, and Attendants. 
 Enter IAGO. 
CASSIO Welcome, Iago; we must to the watch. 15
IAGO Not this hour, lieutenant; 'tis not yet ten o' the 
 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. 20
CASSIO She's a most exquisite lady. 
IAGO And, I'll warrant her, fun of game. 
CASSIO Indeed, she's a most fresh and delicate creature. 
IAGO What an eye she has! methinks it sounds a parley of 
 provocation. 25
CASSIO An inviting eye; and yet methinks right modest. 
IAGO And when she speaks, is it not an alarum to love? 
CASSIO She is indeed perfection. 
IAGO Well, happiness to their sheets! Come, lieutenant, I 
 have a stoup of wine; and here without are a brace 30
 of Cyprus gallants that would fain have a measure to 
 the health of black Othello. 
CASSIO Not to-night, good Iago: I have very poor and 
 unhappy brains for drinking: I could well wish 
 courtesy would invent some other custom of 35
IAGO O, they are our friends; but one cup! I'll drink for 
CASSIO I have drunk but one cup to-night, and that was 
 craftily qualified too, and, behold, what innovation 40
 it makes here: I am unfortunate in the infirmity, 
 and dare not task my weakness with any more. 
IAGO What, man! 'tis a night of revels: the gallants 
 desire it. 
CASSIO Where are they? 45
IAGO Here at the door; I pray you, call them in. 
CASSIO I'll do't; but it dislikes me. 
IAGO If I can fasten but one cup upon him, 
 With that which he hath drunk to-night already, 
 He'll be as full of quarrel and offence 50
 As my young mistress' dog. Now, my sick fool Roderigo, 
 Whom love hath turn'd almost the wrong side out, 
 To Desdemona hath to-night caroused 
 Potations pottle-deep; and he's to watch: 
 Three lads of Cyprus, noble swelling spirits, 55
 That hold their honours in a wary distance, 
 The very elements of this warlike isle, 
 Have I to-night fluster'd with flowing cups, 
 And they watch too. Now, 'mongst this flock of drunkards, 
 Am I to put our Cassio in some action 60
 That may offend the isle.--But here they come: 
 If consequence do but approve my dream, 
 My boat sails freely, both with wind and stream. 
 Re-enter CASSIO; with him MONTANO and Gentlemen; servants following with wine. 
CASSIO 'Fore God, they have given me a rouse already. 
MONTANO Good faith, a little one; not past a pint, as I am 65
 a soldier. 
IAGO Some wine, ho! 
 And let me the canakin clink, clink; 
 And let me the canakin clink 
 A soldier's a man; 70
 A life's but a span; 
 Why, then, let a soldier drink. 
 Some wine, boys! 
CASSIO 'Fore God, an excellent song. 
IAGO I learned it in England, where, indeed, they are 75
 most potent in potting: your Dane, your German, and 
 your swag-bellied Hollander--Drink, ho!--are nothing 
 to your English. 
CASSIO Is your Englishman so expert in his drinking? 
IAGO Why, he drinks you, with facility, your Dane dead 80
 drunk; he sweats not to overthrow your Almain; he 
 gives your Hollander a vomit, ere the next pottle 
 can be filled. 
CASSIO To the health of our general! 
MONTANO I am for it, lieutenant; and I'll do you justice. 85
IAGO O sweet England! 
 King Stephen was 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. 90
 He was a wight of high renown, 
 And thou art but of low degree: 
 'Tis pride that pulls the country down; 
 Then take thine auld cloak about thee. 
 Some wine, ho! 95
CASSIO Why, this is a more exquisite song than the other. 
IAGO Will you hear't again? 
CASSIO 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 saved, and there be souls must not be saved. 100
IAGO It's true, good lieutenant. 
CASSIO For mine own part,--no offence to the general, nor 
 any man of quality,--I hope to be saved. 
IAGO And so do I too, lieutenant. 
CASSIO Ay, but, by your leave, not before me; the 105
 lieutenant is to be saved before the ancient. Let's 
 have no more of this; let's to our affairs.--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: 110
 I am not drunk now; I can stand well enough, and 
 speak well enough. 
All Excellent well. 
CASSIO Why, very well then; you must not think then that I am drunk. 
MONTANO To the platform, masters; come, let's set the watch. 115
IAGO You see this fellow that is gone before; 
 He is 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 the other: 'tis pity of him. 120
 I fear the trust Othello puts him in. 
 On some odd time of his infirmity, 
 Will shake this island. 
MONTANO But is he often thus? 
IAGO 'Tis evermore the prologue to his sleep: 125
 He'll watch the horologe a double set, 
 If drink rock not his cradle. 
MONTANO 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? 
IAGO Aside to him 
 I pray you, after the lieutenant; go. 
MONTANO And 'tis great pity that the noble Moor 
 Should hazard such a place as his own second 135
 With one of an ingraft infirmity: 
 It were an honest action to say 
 So to the Moor. 
IAGO Not I, for this fair island: 
 I do love Cassio well; and would do much 140
 To cure him of this evil--But, hark! what noise? 
 Cry within: 'Help! help!' 
 Re-enter CASSIO, driving in RODERIGO. 
CASSIO You rogue! you rascal! 
MONTANO What's the matter, lieutenant? 
CASSIO A knave teach me my duty! 
 I'll beat the knave into a twiggen bottle. 145
RODERIGO Beat me! 
CASSIO Dost thou prate, rogue? 
 Striking RODERIGO. 
MONTANO Nay, good lieutenant; 
 Staying him 
 I pray you, sir, hold your hand. 
CASSIO Let me go, sir, 150
 Or I'll knock you o'er the mazzard. 
MONTANO Come, come, 
 you're drunk. 
CASSIO Drunk! 
 They fight. 
IAGO [Aside to RODERIGO] Away, I say; go out, and cry a mutiny. 
 Nay, good lieutenant,--alas, gentlemen;-- 155
 Help, ho!--Lieutenant,--sir,--Montano,--sir; 
 Help, masters!--Here's a goodly watch indeed! 
 Bell rings. 
 Who's that which rings the bell?--Diablo, ho! 
 The town will rise: God's will, lieutenant, hold! 
 You will be shamed for ever. 160
 Re-enter OTHELLO and Attendants. 
OTHELLO What is the matter here? 
MONTANO 'Zounds, I bleed still; I am hurt to the death. 
OTHELLO Hold, for your lives! 
IAGO Hold, ho! Lieutenant,--sir--Montano,--gentlemen,-- 
 Have you forgot all sense of place and duty? 165
 Hold! the general speaks to you; hold, hold, for shame! 
OTHELLO 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: 170
 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 look'st dead with grieving, 175
 Speak, who began this? on thy love, I charge thee. 
IAGO 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-- 180
 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! 185
OTHELLO How comes it, Michael, you are thus forgot? 
CASSIO I pray you, pardon me; I cannot speak. 
OTHELLO Worthy Montano, you were wont be civil; 
 The gravity and stillness of your youth 
 The world hath noted, and your name is great 190
 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. 
MONTANO Worthy Othello, I am hurt to danger: 195
 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; 200
 Unless self-charity be sometimes a vice, 
 And to defend ourselves it be a sin 
 When violence assails us. 
OTHELLO Now, by heaven, 
 My blood begins my safer guides to rule; 205
 And passion, having my best judgment collied, 
 Assays to lead the way: if I once 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; 210
 And he that is approved in this offence, 
 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, 215
 In night, and on the court and guard of safety! 
 'Tis monstrous. Iago, who began't? 
MONTANO If partially affined, or leagued in office, 
 Thou dost deliver more or less than truth, 
 Thou art no soldier. 220
IAGO Touch me not so near: 
 I had rather have this tongue cut from my mouth 
 Than it should do offence to Michael Cassio; 
 Yet, I persuade myself, to speak the truth 
 Shall nothing wrong him. Thus it is, general. 225
 Montano and myself being in speech, 
 There comes a fellow crying out for help: 
 And Cassio following him with determined sword, 
 To execute upon him. Sir, this gentleman 
 Steps in to Cassio, and entreats his pause: 230
 Myself the crying fellow did pursue, 
 Lest by his clamour--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, 235
 And Cassio high in oath; which till to-night 
 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. 240
 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, received 245
 From him that fled some strange indignity, 
 Which patience could not pass. 
OTHELLO I know, Iago, 
 Thy honesty and love doth mince this matter, 
 Making it light to Cassio. Cassio, I love thee 250
 But never more be officer of mine. 
 Re-enter DESDEMONA, attended. 
 Look, if my gentle love be not raised up! 
 I'll make thee an example. 
DESDEMONA What's the matter? 
OTHELLO All's well now, sweeting; come away to bed. 255
 Sir, for your hurts, myself will be your surgeon: 
 Lead him off. 
 To MONTANO, who is led off. 
 Iago, look with care about the town, 
 And silence those whom this vile brawl distracted. 
 Come, Desdemona: 'tis the soldiers' life 260
 To have their balmy slumbers waked with strife. 
 Exeunt all but IAGO and CASSIO. 
IAGO What, are you hurt, lieutenant? 
CASSIO Ay, past all surgery. 
IAGO Marry, heaven forbid! 
CASSIO Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost 265
 my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of 
 myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation, 
 Iago, my reputation! 
IAGO As I am an honest man, I thought you had received 
 some bodily wound; there is more sense in that than 270
 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 ways to recover the general again: you 275
 are but now cast in his mood, a punishment more in 
 policy than in malice, even so as one would beat his 
 offenceless dog to affright an imperious lion: sue 
 to him again, and he's yours. 
CASSIO I will rather sue to be despised than to deceive so 280
 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, 285
 let us call thee devil! 
IAGO What was he that you followed with your sword? What 
 had he done to you? 
CASSIO I know not. 
IAGO Is't possible? 290
CASSIO 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! 295
IAGO Why, but you are now well enough: how came you thus 
CASSIO It hath pleased the devil drunkenness to give place 
 to the devil wrath; one unperfectness shows me 
 another, to make me frankly despise myself. 300
IAGO 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 befallen; 
 but, since it is as it is, mend it for your own good. 
CASSIO I will ask him for my place again; he shall tell me 305
 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 
 unblessed and the ingredient is a devil. 310
IAGO Come, come, good wine is a good familiar creature, 
 if it be well used: exclaim no more against it. 
 And, good lieutenant, I think you think I love you. 
CASSIO I have well approved it, sir. I drunk! 
IAGO You or any man living may be drunk! at a time, man. 315
 I'll tell you what you shall do. Our general's wife 
 is now the general: 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 320
 her help to put you in your place again: she is of 
 so free, so kind, so apt, so blessed 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 325
 fortunes against any lay worth naming, this 
 crack of your love shall grow stronger than it was before. 
CASSIO You advise me well. 
IAGO I protest, in the sincerity of love and honest kindness. 
CASSIO I think it freely; and betimes in the morning I will 330
 beseech the virtuous Desdemona to undertake for me: 
 I am desperate of my fortunes if they cheque me here. 
IAGO You are in the right. Good night, lieutenant; I 
 must to the watch. 
CASSIO Good night, honest Iago. 
IAGO And what's he then that says I play the villain? 335
 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 
 The inclining Desdemona to subdue 
 In any honest suit: she's framed as fruitful 340
 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, 345
 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, 350
 They do suggest at first with heavenly shows, 
 As I do now: for whiles this honest fool 
 Plies Desdemona to repair his fortunes 
 And she for him pleads strongly to the Moor, 
 I'll pour this pestilence into his ear, 355
 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 360
 That shall enmesh them all. 
 Re-enter RODERIGO. 
 How now, Roderigo! 
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 to-night exceedingly well 365
 cudgelled; 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. 
IAGO How poor are they that have not patience! 
 What wound did ever heal but by degrees? 370
 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, 375
 Yet fruits that blossom first will first be ripe: 
 Content thyself awhile. 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: 380
 Nay, get thee gone. 
 Two things are to be done: 
 My wife must move for Cassio to her mistress; 
 I'll set her on; 
 Myself the while to draw the Moor apart, 385
 And bring him jump when he may Cassio find 
 Soliciting his wife: ay, that's the way 
 Dull not device by coldness and delay. 

Othello, Act 3, Scene 1


Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 3

From Othello. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark & Maynard.

Abbreviations. — A.-S. = Anglo-Saxon: M.E. = Middle English (from the 13th to the 15th century) ; Fr. = French ; Ger. = German ; Gr. = Greek ; Cf. = compare (Lat. confer) ; Abbott refers to the excellent Shakespearean Grammar of Dr. Abbott; Schmidt, to Dr. Schmidt's invaluable Shakespeare Lexicon.


39. The one cup which I have had though cleverly mixed, has upset my weak head.

47. Dislike and like were usually impersonal as synonymous with please. Cf. "The music likes you not." — Two Gentlemen of Verona, iv. 2, 56.

54. Pottle, diminutive of pot.

56. Are always on guard where their honor is concerned.

57. Elements. As it were, a pure extract or quintessence.

64. Rouse, occurs also thrice in Hamlet, a play of the same period, but not elsewhere. It is a Scandinavian word meaning a drinking-bout.

76. Potent in potting, heavy drinkers.

81. He sweats not, it is no great matter to him.

81. Almain, German.

86. The mention of England suggests the second song which is an old ballad to be found in Percy's Keliques (published 1765).

90. Lown, loon. Originally lowm. Perhaps connected with a Scotch word loamy, slow.

98. Cassio is already incoherent.

110. A British soldier is not considered drunk if he can go through his facings.

122. Odd, occasional, incidental.

126. He will keep awake twenty-four hours.

135. Should run such risks by having such a man for his second-in-command.

136. Ingraft, the omission of the ed is common in verbs whose terminations already resemble participles; eg. also hoist, disjoint, heat.

145. Twiggen, covered with straw network.

151. Mazzard, a contemptuous word for head, or possibly jaw.

172. I will kill instantly anyone who strikes a blow in his own quarrel.

178. Quarter, peace. Possibly quarter refers to the apartment assigned to the officers on guard.

186. You are thus forgot, have thus forgotten yourself.

188. Some verbs claim exemption from the use of to, on the ground of being auxiliary.

191. Censure was a colorless word meaning opinion, in Elizabethan times.

193. Opinion, reputation.

197. While I avoid speaking, which is now painful.

206. Collied, obscured.

209. In my rebuke, in receiving it.

215. Manage. Literally to handle, wield.

218. Affin'd, related.

220. Do not so press me.

270. Sense of pain.

278. He punishes more to appease the islanders than because he is angry.

278. Affright does not suit the comparison. Cassio is the dog, the natives are meant by the lion; he beats the former to appease the latter.

284. Fustian, another stuff named from the place of manufacture— Fustat, an old name of Cairo.

332. I despair of.

337. Probal, a contraction of probable.

339. She could win the Moor over to anything.

343. The cross.

347. Function, operation of reason. Iago, solus, feels the sting of conscience, but very readily settles matters with it — for the moment.

348. Parallel, level, or even, with his design.

351. Suggest, to tempt.

364. Cry, pack, where the part is a secondary one,

How to cite the explanatory notes:

Shakespeare, William. Othello. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark & Maynard, 1892. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.


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