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ACT IV SCENE III Another room in the castle. 
LODOVICO I do beseech you, sir, trouble yourself no further. 
OTHELLO O, pardon me: 'twill do me good to walk. 
LODOVICO Madam, good night; I humbly thank your ladyship. 
DESDEMONA Your honour is most welcome. 5
OTHELLO Will you walk, sir? 
 O, --Desdemona,--  
OTHELLO Get you to bed on the instant; I will be returned 
 forthwith: dismiss your attendant there: look it be done. 10
DESDEMONA I will, my lord. 
 Exeunt OTHELLO, LODOVICO, and Attendants. 
EMILIA How goes it now? he looks gentler than he did. 
DESDEMONA He says he will return incontinent: 
 He hath commanded me to go to bed, 
 And bade me to dismiss you. 15
EMILIA Dismiss me! 
DESDEMONA It was his bidding: therefore, good Emilia,. 
 Give me my nightly wearing, and adieu: 
 We must not now displease him. 
EMILIA I would you had never seen him! 20
DESDEMONA So would not I my love doth so approve him, 
 That even his stubbornness, his cheques, his frowns-- 
 Prithee, unpin me,--have grace and favour in them. 
EMILIA I have laid those sheets you bade me on the bed. 
DESDEMONA All's one. Good faith, how foolish are our minds! 25
 If I do die before thee prithee, shroud me 
 In one of those same sheets. 
EMILIA Come, come you talk. 
DESDEMONA My mother had a maid call'd Barbara: 
 She was in love, and he she loved proved mad 30
 And did forsake her: she had a song of 'willow;' 
 An old thing 'twas, but it express'd her fortune, 
 And she died singing it: that song to-night 
 Will not go from my mind; I have much to do, 
 But to go hang my head all at one side, 35
 And sing it like poor Barbara. Prithee, dispatch. 
EMILIA Shall I go fetch your night-gown? 
DESDEMONA No, unpin me here. 
 This Lodovico is a proper man. 
EMILIA A very handsome man. 40
DESDEMONA He speaks well. 
EMILIA I know a lady in Venice would have walked barefoot 
 to Palestine for a touch of his nether lip. 
DESDEMONA [Singing.] The poor soul sat singing by a sycamore tree. 
 Sing all a green willow: 
 Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knee, 45
 Sing willow, willow, willow: 
 The fresh streams ran by her, and murmur'd her moans; 
 Sing willow, willow, willow; 
 Her salt tears fell from her, and soften'd the stones; 
 Lay by these:-- 50
 Sing willow, willow, willow; 
 Prithee, hie thee; he'll come anon: --  
 Sing all a green willow must be my garland. 

Let nobody blame him; his scorn I approve, --
 Nay, that's not next.-- Hark! who is't that knocks? 55
EMILIA It's the wind. 
DESDEMONA [Singing.] I called my love false love; 
 but what said he then? 
 Sing willow, willow, willow: 
 If I court moe women, you'll couch with moe men! 
 So, get thee gone; good night Ate eyes do itch; 60
 Doth that bode weeping? 
EMILIA 'Tis neither here nor there. 
DESDEMONA I have heard it said so. O, these men, these men! 
 Dost thou in conscience think, -- tell me, Emilia, --  
 That there be women do abuse their husbands 65
 In such gross kind? 
EMILIA There be some such, no question. 
DESDEMONA Wouldst thou do such a deed for all the world? 
EMILIA Why, would not you? 
DESDEMONA No, by this heavenly light! 70
EMILIA Nor I neither by this heavenly light; 
 I might do't as well i' the dark. 
DESDEMONA Wouldst thou do such a deed for all the world? 
EMILIA The world's a huge thing: it is a great price. 
 For a small vice. 75
DESDEMONA In troth, I think thou wouldst not. 
EMILIA In troth, I think I should; and undo't when I had 
 done. Marry, I would not do such a thing for a 
 joint-ring, nor for measures of lawn, nor for 
 gowns, petticoats, nor caps, nor any petty 80
 exhibition; but for the whole world,--why, who would 
 not make her husband a cuckold to make him a 
 monarch? I should venture purgatory for't. 
DESDEMONA Beshrew me, if I would do such a wrong 
 For the whole world. 85
EMILIA Why the wrong is but a wrong i' the world: and 
 having the world for your labour, tis a wrong in your 
 own world, and you might quickly make it right. 
DESDEMONA I do not think there is any such woman. 
EMILIA Yes, a dozen; and as many to the vantage as would 90
 store the world they played for. 
 But I do think it is their husbands' faults 
 If wives do fall: say that they slack their duties, 
 And pour our treasures into foreign laps, 
 Or else break out in peevish jealousies, 95
 Throwing restraint upon us; or say they strike us, 
 Or scant our former having in despite; 
 Why, we have galls, and though we have some grace, 
 Yet have we some revenge. Let husbands know 
 Their wives have sense like them: they see and smell 100
 And have their palates both for sweet and sour, 
 As husbands have. What is it that they do 
 When they change us for others? Is it sport? 
 I think it is: and doth affection breed it? 
 I think it doth: is't frailty that thus errs? 105
 It is so too: and have not we affections, 
 Desires for sport, and frailty, as men have? 
 Then let them use us well: else let them know, 
 The ills we do, their ills instruct us so. 
DESDEMONA Good night, good night: heaven me such uses send, 110
 Not to pick bad from bad, but by bad mend! 

Othello, Act 5, Scene 1


Explanatory Notes for Act 4, 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.


13. Incontinent, immediately.

35. But, preventive. At one side. We still say a-side (at side), but on one side.

25. All's one, it is of no consequence.

43. sq. A song much like this is found in Percy's Reliques.

55. She has forgotten the words.

62. Emilia avoids giving a direct affirmative.

86, sq. It is only wrong if it becomes known to the world; now, if one is to gain the world for it, the world is at your command, and therefore it is no matter.

97. Having, property. Cf. "The gentleman is of no having." — Merry Wives., iii. 2, 73.

98. We are vexed.

111. Mend, amend.

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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