William Shakespeare's Othello is the tale of the green-eyed monster.
William Shakespeare's plays, sonnets and poems at AbsoluteShakespeare.com
Home Plays Sonnets Poems Quotes Summaries Essays Glossary Links Help

HOME > Plays > Othello, the Moor of Venice > Act II. Scene III.

Othello, the Moor of Venice

Study Guides
Hamlet
Julius Caesar
King Henry IV
King Lear
Macbeth
Merchant of Venice
Othello
Romeo and Juliet
The Tempest
Twelfth Night

Trivia
Authorship
Bard Facts
Bibliography
Biography
FAQ
Films
Globe Theatre
Pictures
Quiz
Timeline

Act II. Scene III.

Scene III.—A Hall in the Castle.

Enter OTHELLO, DESDEMONA, CASSIO,
and Attendants.

Oth. Good Michael, look you to the guard to-
night:
Let's teach ourselves that honourable stop,
Not to outsport discretion.
Cas. Iago hath direction what to do;
But, notwithstanding, with my personal eye
Will I look to't.
Oth. Iago is most honest.
Michael, good night; to-morrow 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 'twixt me and you.
Good night.
[Exeunt OTHELLO, DESDEMONA, and
Attendants.

Enter IAGO.
Cas. Welcome, Iago; we must to the watch.
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.
Cas. She's a most exquisite lady.
Iago. And, I'll warrant her, full of game.
Cas. Indeed, she is a most fresh and delicate
creature.
Iago. What an eye she has! methinks it
sounds a parley of provocation.
Cas. An inviting eye; and yet methinks right
modest.
Iago. And when she speaks, is it not an
alarum to love?
Cas. She is indeed perfection.
Iago. 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.
Cas. 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 entertainment.
Iago. O! they are our friends; but one cup:
I'll drink for you.
Cas. I have drunk but one cup to-night, and
that was craftily qualified too, and, behold, what
innovation 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.
Cas. Where are they?
Iago. Here at the door; I pray you, call
them in.
Cas. I'll do't; but it dislikes me. [Exit.
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
As my young mistress' dog. Now, my sick fool
Roderigo,
Whom love has turn'd almost the wrong side
out,
To Desdemona hath to-night carous'd
Potations pottle deep; and he's to watch.
Three lads of Cyprus, noble swelling spirits,
That hold their honours in a wary distance,
The very elements of this war-like 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
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. Servant following with wine.
Cas. 'Fore God, they have given me a rouse
already.
Mon. Good faith, a little one; not past a pint,
as I am a soldier.
Iago. Some wine, ho!
And let me the canakin clink, clink;
And let me the canakin clink:
A soldier's a man;
A life's but a span;
Why then let a soldier drink.
Some wine, boys!
Cas. 'Fore God, an excellent song.
Iago. I learned 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.
Cas. Is your Englishman so expert in his
drinking?
Iago. 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 filled
Cas. To the health of our general!
Mon. I am for it, lieutenant; and I'll do you
Justice.
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.
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!
Cas. Why, this is a more exquisite song than
the other.
Iago. Will you hear't again?
Cas. 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.
Iago. It's true, good lieutenant.
Cas. 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.
Cas. Ay; but, by your leave, not before me;
the lieutenant is to be saved 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 speak well
enough.
All. Excellent well.
Cas. Why, very well, then; you must not
think then that I am drunk. [Exit.
Mon. To the platform, masters; come, let's
set the watch.
Iago. You see this fellow that is gone before;
He is a soldier fit to stand by Cæsar
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.
I fear the trust Othello puts him in,
On some odd time of his infirmity,
Will shake this island.
Mon. But is he often thus?
Iago. 'Tis evermore the prologue to his sleep:
He'll watch the horologe a double set,
If drink rock not his cradle.
Mon. 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.
Iago. [Aside to him.] How now, Roderigo!
I pray you, after the lieutenant; go.
[Exit RODERIGO.
Mon. 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.
Iago. Not I, for this fair island:
I do love Cassio well, and would do much
To cure him of this evil. But hark! what noise?
[Cry within, 'Help! Help!'

Re-enter CASSIO, driving in RODERIGO.
Cas. You rogue! you rascal!
Mon. What's the matter, lieutenant?
Cas. A knave teach me my duty!
I'll beat the knave into a twiggen bottle.
Rod. Beat me!
Cas. Dost thou prate, rogue?
[Striking RODERIGO.
Mon. [Staying him.] Nay, good lieutenant;
I pray you, sir, hold your hand.
Cas. Let me go, sir,
Or I'll knock you o'er the mazzard.
Mon. Come, come; you're drunk.
Cas. Drunk! [They fight.
Iago. [Aside to RODERIGO.] Away, I say! go
out, and cry a mutiny. [Exit RODERICK).
Nay, good lieutenant! God's will, gentlemen!
Help, ho! Lieutenant! sir! Montano! sir!
Help, masters! Here's a goodly watch indeed!
[Bell rings.
Who's that that rings the bell? Diablo, ho!
The town will rise: God's will! lieutenant, hold!
You will be sham'd for ever.

Re-enter OTHELLO and Attendants.
Oth. What is the matter here?
Mon. 'Zounds! I bleed still; I am hurt to
the death.
Oth. Hold, for your lives!
Iago. Hold, ho, lieutenant! Sir! Montano!
gentlemen!
Have you forgot all sense of place and duty?
Hold! the general speaks to you; hold for
shame!
Oth. 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, mas-
ters?
Honest Iago, that look'st dead with grieving,
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,—
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!
Oth. How comes it, Michael, you are thus
forgot?
Cas. I pray you, pardon me; I cannot speak.
Oth. Worthy Montano, you were wont 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.
Mon. 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.
Oth. Now, by heaven,
My blood begins my safer guides to rule,
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;
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,
In night, and on the court and guard of safety!
'Tis monstrous. Iago, who began't?
Mon. If partially amn'd, or leagu'd in office,
Thou dost deliver more or less than truth,
Thou art no soldier.
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.
Montano and myself being in speech,
There comes a fellow crying out for help,
And Cassio following 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 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,
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 toge-
ther,
At blow and thrust, even as again they were
When you yourself did part them.
More of this matter can I not 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.
Oth. 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;
[To CASSIO.] I'll make thee an example.
Des. What's the matter?
Oth. All's well now, sweeting; come away to
bed.
Sir, for your hurts, myself will be your surgeon.
Lead him off. [MONTANO is led off.
Iago, look with care about the town,
And silence those whom this vile brawl dis-
tracted.
Come, Desdemona; 'tis the soldiers' life,
To have their balmy slumbers wak'd with strife.
[Exeunt all hut IAGO and CASSIO.
Iago. What! are you hurt, lieutenant?
Cas. Ay; past all surgery.
Iago. Marry, heaven forbid!
Cas. Reputation, reputation, reputation! O!
I have lost my reputation. I have lost the im-
mortal 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
offence 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
ways to recover the general again; you are but
now cast in his mood, a punishment more in po-
licy than in malice; even so as one would beat
his offenceless dog to affright an imperious lion.
Sue to him again, and he is yours.
Cas. I will rather sue to be despised 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!
Iago. What was he that you followed with
your sword? What had he done to you?
Cas. I know not.
Iago. Is't possible?
Cas. 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.
Iago. Why, but you are now well enough;
how came you thus recovered?
Cas. It hath pleased the devil drunkenness to
give place to the devil wrath; one unperfectness
shows me another, to make me frankly despise
myself.
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.
Cas. 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 unblessed and the ingredient is
a devil
Iago. Come, come; good wine is a good fami-
liar creature if it be well used; exclaim no more
against it. And, good lieutenant, I think you
think I love you.
Cas. I have well approved it, sir. I drunk!
Iago. You or any man living may be drunk at
some 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 de-
voted and given up himself to the contemplation,
mark, and denotement of her parts and graces:
confess yourself freely to her; importune her;
she'll help to put you in your place again. She
is of so free, so kind, so apt, so blessed a disposi-
tion, that 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.
Cas. You advise me well.
Iago. I protest, in the sincerity of love and
honest kindness.
Cas. 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.
Logo. You are in the right. Good night, lieu-
tenant; I must to the watch.
Cas. Good night, honest Iago! [Exit.
Iago. 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
The 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 while 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
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.

Re-enter RODERIGO.
How now, Roderigo!
Rod. 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 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?
Thou know'st we work by wit and not by witch-
craft,
And wit depends on dilatory time.
Does't not go well? Cassio hath beaten thee,
And thou by that small hurt hast cashiered
Cassio.
Though other things grow fair against the sun,
Yet fruits that blossom first will first be ripe:
Content thyself awhile. By the mass, 'tis morn-
ing;
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 the 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. [Exit.
< PREVIOUS
Copyright 2000-2005 AbsoluteShakespeare.com. All rights reserved.  Contact Us  Privacy  Awards