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Othello

Please see the bottom of this page for full explanatory notes.

ACT I SCENE I Venice. A street. 
 Enter RODERIGO and IAGO. 
RODERIGO Tush! never tell me; I take it much unkindly 
 That thou, Iago, who hast had my purse 
 As if the strings were thine, shouldst know of this. 
IAGO 'Sblood, but you will not hear me:
 If ever I did dream of such a matter, Abhor me. 
RODERIGO Thou told'st me thou didst hold him in thy hate. 
IAGO Despise me, if I do not. Three great ones of the city, 
 In personal suit to make me his lieutenant, 
 Off-capp'd to him: and, by the faith of man,  10
 I know my price, I am worth no worse a place: 
 But he; as loving his own pride and purposes, 
 Evades them, with a bombast circumstance 
 Horribly stuff'd with epithets of war; 
 And, in conclusion,
 Nonsuits my mediators; for, 'Certes,' says he, 
 'I have already chose my officer.' 
 And what was he? 
 Forsooth, a great arithmetician, 
 One Michael Cassio, a Florentine,  20
 A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife; 
 That never set a squadron in the field, 
 Nor the division of a battle knows 
 More than a spinster; unless the bookish theoric, 
 Wherein the toged consuls can propose
 As masterly as he: mere prattle, without practise, 
 Is all his soldiership. But he, sir, had the election: 
 And I, of whom his eyes had seen the proof 
 At Rhodes, at Cyprus and on other grounds 
 Christian and heathen, must be be-lee'd and calm'd  30
 By debitor and creditor: this counter-caster, 
 He, in good time, must his lieutenant be, 
 And I--God bless the mark!--his Moorship's ancient. 
RODERIGO By heaven, I rather would have been his hangman. 
IAGO Why, there's no remedy; 'tis the curse of service,
 Preferment goes by letter and affection, 
 And not by old gradation, where each second 
 Stood heir to the first. Now, sir, be judge yourself, 
 Whether I in any just term am affined 
 To love the Moor.
RODERIGO I would not follow him then.  40
IAGO O, sir, content you; 
 I follow him to serve my turn upon him: 
 We cannot all be masters, nor all masters 
 Cannot be truly follow'd. You shall mark
 Many a duteous and knee-crooking knave, 
 That, doting on his own obsequious bondage, 
 Wears out his time, much like his master's ass, 
 For nought but provender, and when he's old, cashier'd: 
 Whip me such honest knaves. Others there are
 Who, trimm'd in forms and visages of duty,  50
 Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves, 
 And, throwing but shows of service on their lords, 
 Do well thrive by them and when they have lined 
 their coats
 Do themselves homage: these fellows have some soul; 
 And such a one do I profess myself. For, sir, 
 It is as sure as you are Roderigo, 
 Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago: 
 In following him, I follow but myself;
 Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty, 
 But seeming so, for my peculiar end:  60
 For when my outward action doth demonstrate 
 The native act and figure of my heart 
 In compliment extern, 'tis not long after
 But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve 
 For daws to peck at: I am not what I am. 
RODERIGO What a full fortune does the thicklips owe 
 If he can carry't thus! 
IAGO Call up her father,
 Rouse him: make after him, poison his delight, 
 Proclaim him in the streets; incense her kinsmen, 
 And, though he in a fertile climate dwell,  70
 Plague him with flies: though that his joy be joy, 
 Yet throw such changes of vexation on't,
 As it may lose some colour. 
RODERIGO Here is her father's house; I'll call aloud. 
IAGO Do, with like timorous accent and dire yell 
 As when, by night and negligence, the fire 
 

Is spied in populous cities.
RODERIGO What, ho, Brabantio! Signior Brabantio, ho! 
IAGO Awake! what, ho, Brabantio! thieves! thieves! thieves! 
 Look to your house, your daughter and your bags!  80
 Thieves! thieves! 
 BRABANTIO appears above, at a window. 
BRABANTIO What is the reason of this terrible summons?
 What is the matter there? 
RODERIGO Signior, is all your family within? 
IAGO Are your doors lock'd? 
BRABANTIO Why, wherefore ask you this? 
IAGO 'Zounds, sir, you're robb'd; for shame, put on
 your gown; 
 Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul; 
 Even now, now, very now, an old black ram 
 Is topping your white ewe. Arise, arise; 
 Awake the snorting citizens with the bell,
 Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you: 
 Arise, I say. 
BRABANTIO What, have you lost your wits? 
RODERIGO Most reverend signior, do you know my voice? 
BRABANTIO Not I; what are you?  90
RODERIGO My name is Roderigo. 
BRABANTIO The worser welcome: 
 I have charged thee not to haunt about my doors: 
 In honest plainness thou hast heard me say 
 My daughter is not for thee; and now, in madness,
 Being full of supper and distempering draughts, 
 Upon malicious bravery, dost thou come 
 To start my quiet. 
RODERIGO Sir, sir, sir,-- 
BRABANTIO But thou must needs be sure
 My spirit and my place have in them power 
 To make this bitter to thee. 
RODERIGO Patience, good sir.  100
BRABANTIO What tell'st thou me of robbing? this is Venice; 
 My house is not a grange.
RODERIGO Most grave Brabantio, 
 In simple and pure soul I come to you. 
IAGO 'Zounds, sir, you are one of those that will not 
 serve God, if the devil bid you. Because we come to 
 do you service and you think we are ruffians, you'll
 have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse; 
 you'll have your nephews neigh to you; you'll have 
 coursers for cousins and gennets for germans. 
BRABANTIO What profane wretch art thou? 
IAGO I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter
 and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs. 
BRABANTIO Thou art a villain. 
IAGO You are--a senator. 
BRABANTIO This thou shalt answer; I know thee, Roderigo. 
RODERIGO Sir, I will answer any thing. But, I beseech you,
 If't be your pleasure and most wise consent, 
 As partly I find it is, that your fair daughter,  110
 At this odd-even and dull watch o' the night, 
 Transported, with no worse nor better guard 
 But with a knave of common hire, a gondolier,
 To the gross clasps of a lascivious Moor-- 
 If this be known to you and your allowance, 
 We then have done you bold and saucy wrongs; 
 But if you know not this, my manners tell me 
 We have your wrong rebuke. Do not believe
 That, from the sense of all civility, 
 I thus would play and trifle with your reverence:  120
 Your daughter, if you have not given her leave, 
 I say again, hath made a gross revolt; 
 Tying her duty, beauty, wit and fortunes
 In an extravagant and wheeling stranger 
 Of here and every where. Straight satisfy yourself: 
 If she be in her chamber or your house, 
 Let loose on me the justice of the state 
 For thus deluding you.
BRABANTIO Strike on the tinder, ho! 
 Give me a taper! call up all my people! 
 This accident is not unlike my dream:  130
 Belief of it oppresses me already. 
 Light, I say! light!
 Exit above. 
IAGO Farewell; for I must leave you: 
 It seems not meet, nor wholesome to my place, 
 To be produced--as, if I stay, I shall-- 
 Against the Moor: for, I do know, the state, 
 However this may gall him with some cheque,
 Cannot with safety cast him, for he's embark'd 
 With such loud reason to the Cyprus wars, 
 Which even now stand in act, that, for their souls, 
 Another of his fathom they have none,  140
 To lead their business: in which regard,
 Though I do hate him as I do hell-pains. 
 Yet, for necessity of present life, 
 I must show out a flag and sign of love, 
 Which is indeed but sign. That you shall surely find him, 
 Lead to the Sagittary the raised search;
 And there will I be with him. So, farewell. 
 Exit 
 Enter, below, BRABANTIO, and Servants with torches. 
BRABANTIO It is too true an evil: gone she is; 
 And what's to come of my despised time 
 Is nought but bitterness. Now, Roderigo,  150
 Where didst thou see her? O unhappy girl!
 With the Moor, say'st thou? Who would be a father! 
 How didst thou know 'twas she? O she deceives me 
 Past thought! What said she to you? Get more tapers: 
 Raise all my kindred. Are they married, think you? 
RODERIGO Truly, I think they are.
BRABANTIO O heaven! How got she out? O treason of the blood! 
 Fathers, from hence trust not your daughters' minds 
 By what you see them act. Is there not charms 
 By which the property of youth and maidhood  160
 May be abused? Have you not read, Roderigo,
 Of some such thing? 
RODERIGO Yes, sir, I have indeed. 
BRABANTIO Call up my brother. O, would you had had her! 
 Some one way, some another. Do you know 
 Where we may apprehend her and the Moor?
RODERIGO I think I can discover him, if you please, 
 To get good guard and go along with me. 
BRABANTIO Pray you, lead on. At every house I'll call; 
 I may command at most. Get weapons, ho! 
 And raise some special officers of night.  170
 On, good Roderigo: I'll deserve your pains. 
 Exeunt 

Othello, Act 1, Scene 2

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Explanatory Notes for Act 1, Scene 1

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.

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4. 'Sblood, for God's blood, as 'swounds, or zounds, for God's wounds. In 1606 the use of bad language on the stage was checked by Act of Parliament.

10. Off-capped, took off their cap to him.

11. I am qualified to be at least lieutenant,

13. Them, lago's supporters. Bombast, cotton padding, hence affected language. Circumstance, the opposite of a straightforward answer.

14. The hemistich (half-line), as in line 18, enables the actor to make a more effective pause.

20. The commercial tone of Florence is contrasted with warlike Venice.

21. Cassio has almost decided to ruin himself by marrying Bianca, a courtezan.

23. Battle, battalion.

24. Bookish theoric, object of knows. The theory of war, learnt from reading treatises, opposed to practice.

25. Toged; the toga is symbolic of peace. Propose, speak.

27. He was chosen.

30. Be-le'd, having the wind taken out of the sails.

31. By a mere book-keeper, who adds up counters; i.e., money.

33. God bless the mark, used to avert the evil omen in using strong language. Ancient, corruption of ensign, a flag-bearer.

35. sq. We cannot help it. Promotion goes not, as in former times, by seniority, but by influence and partiality.

39. In any reasonable way. Affin'd, related, so well disposed to.

41. lago would not serve Othello, but that he sees a chance of revenge.

45. Knave, German Knabe, boy.

46. Doting on, growing foolish over.

49. Me. Ethic dative. More common in French. But cf. sc. 2, 72; Hamlet, ii. 2, 601, "Who does me this?"

50. Visages. Like Latin visus, looks.

60. So, loving and duteous.

61, sq. For lago to give the key-note to his real character is a touch of genius.

66. Owe, own.

68. The second him refers to Othello.

69. Proclaim him as an offender against the public peace.

71. Allusion to one of the plagues of Egypt.

72. Metaphor from the artist's mixmg colors.

73. As, for that.

91. Worser, the double comparative common in Shakespeare. Three double superlatives most unkindest, most worst, and most boldest are also found.

96. Upon, for the purpose of.

99. I am annoyed at your joke, and have power to make you regret it.

102. Grange, a farm-house.

111. Odd-even and dull watch. Odd-even is interpreted to mean the interval between midnight and one a.m. The hyphen not in earliest copies.

113. But, than or except.

115. Allowance, approval.

116. Saucy, insolent, outrageous. "Full of sauce, pungent." Skeat.

117. I am sure you are wrong in abusing us.

119. From, away from.

137. Cast, dismiss.

141. In which regard, on account of which,

146. The name of the inn.

169. I am sure of aid almost everywhere.

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) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/othello_1_1.html >.

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