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ACT II SCENE I A Sea-port in Cyprus. An open place near the quay. 
 Enter MONTANO and two Gentlemen. 
MONTANO What from the cape can you discern at sea? 
First Gentleman Nothing at all: it is a highwrought flood; 
 I cannot, 'twixt the heaven and the main, 
 Descry a sail.
MONTANO Methinks the wind hath spoke aloud at land; 
 A fuller blast ne'er shook our battlements: 
 If it hath ruffian'd so upon the sea, 
 What ribs of oak, when mountains melt on them, 
 Can hold the mortise? What shall we hear of this?
Second Gentleman A segregation of the Turkish fleet:  10
 For do but stand upon the foaming shore, 
 The chidden billow seems to pelt the clouds; 
 The wind-shaked surge, with high and monstrous mane, 
 seems to cast water on the burning bear,
 And quench the guards of the ever-fixed pole: 
 I never did like molestation view 
 On the enchafed flood. 
MONTANO If that the Turkish fleet 
 Be not enshelter'd and embay'd, they are drown'd:
 It is impossible they bear it out. 
 Enter a third Gentleman. 
Third Gentleman News, lads! our wars are done.  20
 The desperate tempest hath so bang'd the Turks, 
 That their designment halts: a noble ship of Venice 
 Hath seen a grievous wreck and sufferance
 On most part of their fleet. 
MONTANO How! is this true? 
Third Gentleman The ship is here put in, 
 A Veronesa; Michael Cassio, 
 Lieutenant to the warlike Moor Othello,
 Is come on shore: the Moor himself at sea, 
 And is in full commission here for Cyprus. 
MONTANO I am glad on't; 'tis a worthy governor.  30
Third Gentleman But this same Cassio, though he speak of comfort 
 Touching the Turkish loss, yet he looks sadly,
 And prays the Moor be safe; for they were parted 
 With foul and violent tempest. 
MONTANO Pray heavens he be; 
 For I have served him, and the man commands 
 Like a full soldier. Let's to the seaside, ho!
 As well to see the vessel that's come in 
 As to throw out our eyes for brave Othello, 
 Even till we make the main and the aerial blue 
 An indistinct regard. 
Third Gentleman Come, let's do so:  40
 For every minute is expectancy 
 Of more arrivance. 
 Enter CASSIO 
CASSIO Thanks, you the valiant of this warlike isle, 
 That so approve the Moor! O, let the heavens 
 Give him defence against the elements,
 For I have lost us him on a dangerous sea. 
MONTANO Is he well shipp'd? 
CASSIO His bark is stoutly timber'd, his pilot 
 Of very expert and approved allowance; 
 Therefore my hopes, not surfeited to death,  50
 Stand in bold cure. 
 A cry within: 'A sail, a sail, a sail!' 
 Enter a fourth Gentleman. 
CASSIO What noise? 
Fourth Gentleman The town is empty; on the brow o' the sea 
 Stand ranks of people, and they cry 'A sail!' 
CASSIO My hopes do shape him for the governor.
 Guns heard 
Second Gentlemen They do discharge their shot of courtesy: 
 Our friends at least. 
CASSIO I pray you, sir, go forth, 
 And give us truth who 'tis that is arrived. 
Second Gentleman I shall.
MONTANO But, good lieutenant, is your general wived?  60
CASSIO Most fortunately: he hath achieved a maid 
 That paragons description and wild fame; 
 One that excels the quirks of blazoning pens, 
 And in the essential vesture of creation
 Does tire the ingener. 
 Re-enter second Gentleman. 
 How now! who has put in? 
Second Gentleman 'Tis one Iago, ancient to the general. 
CASSIO Has had most favourable and happy speed: 
 Tempests themselves, high seas, and howling winds,
 The gutter'd rocks and congregated sands-- 
 Traitors ensteep'd to clog the guiltless keel,--  70
 As having sense of beauty, do omit 
 Their mortal natures, letting go safely by 
 The divine Desdemona.
MONTANO What is she? 
CASSIO She that I spake of, our great captain's captain, 
 Left in the conduct of the bold Iago, 
 Whose footing here anticipates our thoughts 
 A se'nnight's speed. Great Jove, Othello guard,
 And swell his sail with thine own powerful breath, 
 That he may bless this bay with his tall ship, 
 Make love's quick pants in Desdemona's arms, 
 Give renew'd fire to our extincted spirits  80
 And bring all Cyprus comfort!
 Enter DESDEMONA, EMILIA, IAGO, RODERIGO, and Attendants. 
 O, behold, 
 The riches of the ship is come on shore! 

Ye men of Cyprus, let her have your knees.
 Hail to thee, lady! and the grace of heaven, 
 Before, behind thee, and on every hand,
 Enwheel thee round! 
DESDEMONA I thank you, valiant Cassio. 
 What tidings can you tell me of my lord? 
CASSIO He is not yet arrived: nor know I aught 
 But that he's well and will be shortly here.  90
DESDEMONA O, but I fear--How lost you company? 
CASSIO The great contention of the sea and skies 
 Parted our fellowship--But, hark! a sail. 
 Within 'A sail, a sail!' [Guns heard within.] 
Second Gentleman They give their greeting to the citadel; 
 This likewise is a friend.
CASSIO See for the news. 
 Exit Gentleman. 
 Good ancient, you are welcome. 
 Welcome, mistress. 
 Let it not gall your patience, good Iago, 
 That I extend my manners; 'tis my breeding
 That gives me this bold show of courtesy.  100
 Kissing her 
IAGO Sir, would she give you so much of her lips 
 As of her tongue she oft bestows on me, 
 You'll have enough. 
DESDEMONA Alas, she has no speech.
IAGO In faith, too much; 
 I find it still, when I have list to sleep: 
 Marry, before your ladyship, I grant, 
 She puts her tongue a little in her heart, 
 And chides with thinking.
EMILIA You have little cause to say so. 
IAGO Come on, come on; you are pictures out of doors,  110
 Bells in your parlors, wild-cats in your kitchens, 
 Saints m your injuries, devils being offended, 
 Players in your housewifery, and housewives' in your beds.
DESDEMONA O, fie upon thee, slanderer! 
IAGO Nay, it is true, or else I am a Turk: 
 You rise to play and go to bed to work. 
EMILIA You shall not write my praise. 
IAGO No, let me not.
DESDEMONA What wouldst thou write of me, if thou shouldst 
 praise me? 
IAGO O gentle lady, do not put me to't; 
 For I am nothing, if not critical.  120
DESDEMONA Come on assay. There's one gone to the harbour?
IAGO Ay, madam. 
DESDEMONA I am not merry; but I do beguile 
 The thing I am, by seeming otherwise. 
 Come, how wouldst thou praise me? 
IAGO I am about it; but indeed my invention
 Comes from my pate as birdlime does from frize; 
 It plucks out brains and all: but my Muse labours, 
 And thus she is deliver'd. 
 If she be fair and wise, fairness and wit,  130
 The one's for use, the other useth it.
DESDEMONA Well praised! How if she be black and witty? 
IAGO If she be black, and thereto have a wit, 
 She'll find a white that shall her blackness fit. 
DESDEMONA Worse and worse. 
EMILIA How if fair and foolish?
IAGO She never yet was foolish that was fair; 
 For even her folly help'd her to an heir. 
DESDEMONA These are old fond paradoxes to make fools laugh i' 
 the alehouse. What miserable praise hast thou for 
 her that's foul and foolish?  140
IAGO There's none so foul and foolish thereunto, 
 But does foul pranks which fair and wise ones do. 
DESDEMONA O heavy ignorance! thou praisest the worst best. 
 But what praise couldst thou bestow on a deserving 
 woman indeed, one that, in the authority of her
 merit, did justly put on the vouch of very malice itself? 
IAGO She that was ever fair and never proud, 
 Had tongue at will and yet was never loud,  150
 Never lack'd gold and yet went never gay, 
 Fled from her wish and yet said 'Now I may,'
 She that being anger'd, her revenge being nigh, 
 Bade her wrong stay and her displeasure fly, 
 She that in wisdom never was so frail 
 To change the cod's head for the salmon's tail; 
 She that could think and ne'er disclose her mind,
 See suitors following and not look behind, 
 She was a wight, if ever such wight were,-- 
DESDEMONA To do what?  160
IAGO To suckle fools and chronicle small beer. 
DESDEMONA O most lame and impotent conclusion! Do not learn
 of him, Emilia, though he be thy husband. How say 
 you, Cassio? is he not a most profane and liberal 
CASSIO He speaks home, madam: You may relish him more in 
 the soldier than in the scholar.
IAGO Aside He takes her by the palm; ay, well said, 
 whisper: with as little a web as this will I  170
 ensnare as great a fly as Cassio. Ay, smile upon 
 her, do; I will gyve thee in thine own courtship. 
 You say true; 'tis so, indeed: if such tricks as 
 these strip you out of your lieutenantry, it had
 been better you had not kissed your three fingers so 
 oft, which now again you are most apt to play the 
 sir in. Very good; well kissed! an excellent 
 courtesy! 'tis so, indeed. Yet again your fingers 
 to your lips? would they were clyster-pipes for your sake!
 Trumpet within. 
 The Moor! I know his trumpet.  180
CASSIO 'Tis truly so. 
DESDEMONA Let's meet him and receive him. 
CASSIO Lo, where he comes! 
 Enter OTHELLO and Attendants. 
OTHELLO O my fair warrior!
DESDEMONA My dear Othello! 
OTHELLO It gives me wonder great as my content 
 To see you here before me. O my soul's joy! 
 If after every tempest come such calms, 
 May the winds blow till they have waken'd death!
 And let the labouring bark climb hills of seas 
 Olympus-high and duck again as low  190
 As hell's from heaven! If it were now to die, 
 'Twere now to be most happy; for, I fear, 
 My soul hath her content so absolute
 That not another comfort like to this 
 Succeeds in unknown fate. 
DESDEMONA The heavens forbid 
 But that our loves and comforts should increase, 
 Even as our days do grow!
OTHELLO Amen to that, sweet powers! 
 I cannot speak enough of this content; 
 It stops me here; it is too much of joy: 
 And this, and this, the greatest discords be  200
 [Kissing her.] 
 That e'er our hearts shall make!
IAGO [Aside] Oh, you are well-tun'd now! 
 But I'll set down the pegs that make this music, 
 As honest as I am. 
OTHELLO Come, let us to the castle. 
 News, friends; our wars are done, the Turks 
 are drown'd.
 How does my old acquaintance of this isle? 
 Honey, you shall be well desired in Cyprus; 
 I have found great love amongst them. O my sweet, 
 I prattle out of fashion, and I dote  210
 In mine own comforts. I prithee, good Iago,
 Go to the bay and disembark my coffers: 
 Bring thou the master to the citadel; 
 He is a good one, and his worthiness 
 Does challenge much respect. Come, Desdemona, 
 Once more, well met at Cyprus.
 Exeunt OTHELLO, DESDEMONA, and Attendants. 
IAGO Do thou meet me presently at the harbour. Come 
 hither. If thou be'st valiant,-- as, they say, base 
 men being in love have then a nobility in their 
 natures more than is native to them--list me. The 
 lieutenant tonight watches on the court of  220
 guard:--first, I must tell thee this--Desdemona is 
 directly in love with him. 
RODERIGO With him! why, 'tis not possible. 
IAGO Lay thy finger thus, and let thy soul be instructed. 
 Mark me with what violence she first loved the Moor,
 but for bragging and telling her fantastical lies: 
 and will she love him still for prating? let not 
 thy discreet heart think it. Her eye must be fed; 
 and what delight shall she have to look on the 
 devil? When the blood is made dull with the act of  230
 sport, there should be, again to inflame it and to 
 give satiety a fresh appetite, loveliness in favour, 
 sympathy in years, manners and beauties; all which 
 the Moor is defective in: now, for want of these 
 required conveniences, her delicate tenderness will
 find itself abused, begin to heave the gorge, 
 disrelish and abhor the Moor; very nature will 
 instruct her in it and compel her to some second 
 choice. Now, sir, this granted,--as it is a most 
 pregnant and unforced position--who stands so
 eminent in the degree of this fortune as Cassio  240
 does? a knave very voluble; no further 
 conscionable than in putting on the mere form of 
 civil and humane seeming, for the better compassing 
 of his salt and most hidden loose affection? why,
 none; why, none: a slipper and subtle knave, a 
 finder of occasions, that has an eye can stamp and 
 counterfeit advantages, though true advantage never 
 present itself; a devilish knave. Besides, the 
 knave is handsome, young, and hath all those
 requisites in him that folly and green minds look  250
 after: a pestilent complete knave; and the woman 
 hath found him already. 
RODERIGO I cannot believe that in her; she's full of 
 most blessed condition.
IAGO Blessed fig's-end! the wine she drinks is made of 
 grapes: if she had been blessed, she would never 
 have loved the Moor. Blessed pudding! Didst thou 
 not see her paddle with the palm of his hand? didst 
 not mark that?  260
RODERIGO Yes, that I did; but that was but courtesy. 
IAGO Lechery, by this hand; an index and obscure prologue 
 to the history of lust and foul thoughts. They met 
 so near with their lips that their breaths embraced 
 together. Villanous thoughts, Roderigo! when these
 mutualities so marshal the way, hard at hand comes 
 the master and main exercise, the incorporate 
 conclusion, Pish! But, sir, be you ruled by me: I 
 have brought you from Venice. Watch you to-night; 
 for the command, I'll lay't upon you. Cassio knows  270
 you not. I'll not be far from you: do you find 
 some occasion to anger Cassio, either by speaking 
 too loud, or tainting his discipline; or from what 
 other course you please, which the time shall more 
 favourably minister.
IAGO Sir, he is rash and very sudden in choler, and haply 
 may strike at you: provoke him, that he may; for 
 even out of that will I cause these of Cyprus to 
 mutiny; whose qualification shall come into no true  280
 taste again but by the displanting of Cassio. So 
 shall you have a shorter journey to your desires by 
 the means I shall then have to prefer them; and the 
 impediment most profitably removed, without the 
 which there were no expectation of our prosperity.
RODERIGO I will do this, if I can bring it to any 
 opportunity.  290
IAGO I warrant thee. Meet me by and by at the citadel: 
 I must fetch his necessaries ashore. Farewell. 
IAGO That Cassio loves her, I do well believe it; 
 That she loves him, 'tis apt and of great credit: 
 The Moor, howbeit that I endure him not, 
 Is of a constant, loving, noble nature, 
 And I dare think he'll prove to Desdemona
 A most dear husband. Now, I do love her too;  300
 Not out of absolute lust, though peradventure 
 I stand accountant for as great a sin, 
 But partly led to diet my revenge, 
 For that I do suspect the lusty Moor
 Hath leap'd into my seat; the thought whereof 
 Doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw my inwards; 
 And nothing can or shall content my soul 
 Till I am even'd with him, wife for wife, 
 Or failing so, yet that I put the Moor
 At least into a jealousy so strong  310
 That judgment cannot cure. Which thing to do, 
 If this poor trash of Venice, whom I trash 
 For his quick hunting, stand the putting on, 
 I'll have our Michael Cassio on the hip,
 Abuse him to the Moor in the rank garb-- 
 For I fear Cassio with my night-cap too-- 
 Make the Moor thank me, love me and reward me. 
 For making him egregiously an ass 
 And practising upon his peace and quiet
 Even to madness. 'Tis here, but yet confused:  320
 Knavery's plain face is never seen tin used. 

Othello, Act 2, Scene 2


Explanatory Notes for Act 2, 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.


3. 'Twixt the heaven and the main, on the horizon.

9. Mortise, a hole in a piece of wood to receive the tenon in carpentry.

12. Chidden, and so, angry.

13. Shaked, the old infinitive being shaken, Elizabethan writers frequently used the form of ed for the participle.

15. Molestation, disturbance.

17,18. Enchaf'd, enshelter'd, embay'd. En was a favorite prefix with Shakespeare, especially in this play. We shall find also encave, enwheel, enfetter'd, enmesh. Perhaps with participles he likes some kind of prefix as a substitute for the old prefix.

22. Their plan is foiled.

23. Sufferance, damage, loss.

26. A ship equipped by the inland city of Verona.

41. We may expect fresh arrivals any moment.

50. Not in danger from being overloaded with fear.

62. Paragons, a Spanish word formed by two prepositions— para, con — outdoes.

63. Quirks, tricks.

64. 65. In her natural beauty baffles the clever person who would describe her. Ingener, contriver. Hamlet (iii. 4, 206), "The ingener hoist with his own petard."

67. He has was often pronounced and written has.

69. Gutter'd, worn into channels.

70. Who conspire to delay.

71. From a mere love of beauty.

72. Mortal, here deadly, fatal.

76. Who lands here a week sooner than we expected.

79. Tall, a stock epithet for ships. Merchant of Venice I, 6: "The carcases of many a tall ship lie buried."

82. Riches, may be for richesse, a singular noun.

97. He explains to Iago that it would be hyper-modesty if he merely gave her a formal greeting.

105. When I wish to sleep.

115. I will not come to you for a character or an epitaph.

123. I beguile my sadness by appearing merry.

126. I am working at it.

127. Birdlime, a glutinous substance. Frize, or frieze, cloth of Friesland, from which, being rough, it was difficult to remove stains without tearing away the nap.

130, 131. The clever woman finds a means to make use of her charms.

133. Thereto, besides. Black, a brunette.

143. A plain woman is as dangerous as any other.

148. Put on the vouch, dare venture to call upon malice itself to vouch for her. S. T. Coleridge remarked that Shakespeare puts all sarcasms upon women into the mouth of villains.

156. By the despised salmon's tail he means Othello, whom she had chosen in preference to the wealthy, curled darlings of Venice.

161. His bathos means, she is only fit to have silly children, and keep the tally at a beer-house.

165. Liberal, wanton. Profane, gross.

171. Gyve, etc., fetter thee in thy courtesies.

185. I am as delighted as surprised.

194. There cannot be much more such happiness in store for me.

203. The pegs on which the strings of the instrument are strained, and so loosen the strings and cause discords.

206. Desir'd, loved.

208. Out of fashion, more than good breeding allows.

221. Directly, manifestly, unmistakably.

223. Lay thy finger thus, on thy lips.

229. Favor, face.

230. Sympathy in years. Perhaps here, as in Midsummer Nigkfs Dream, 1. i, 137, Shakespeare is thinking of his own marriage.

236. Pregnant, evident, clear. Position, assertion, capable of being defended.

240. Salt, wanton.

241. Slipper, slippery.

242. Stamp, make valid and current.

249. Condition, temper.

283. Qualification, they will be appeased only by the dismissal of Cassio.

288. Without the which, the removal of which.

296. Apt, natural,

312. Trash, drift-wood found under trees. Perhaps both are hunters' words.

313. Putting on, instigation.

314. To have at an advantage. Cf. "Now, infidel, I have you on the hip." — Merchant of Venice, iv. i, 334.

315. Garb, form, manner.

321. Evil plans are developed as they proceed.

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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