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Othello has long been recognised as one of the most powerful of Shakespeare's tragedies. This is an intense and moving drama of love, deception, jealousy and destruction. Desdemona's love for Othello, the Moor, transcends racial prejudice; but the envious Iago conspires to destroy their lives. In its vivid rendering of racism, sexism, contested identities, and the savagery lurking within civilisation, Othello is arguably the most topical and accessible tragedy from Shakespeare's major phase as a dramatist.
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© 2018 Synapse Publishing
Actus Primus. Scoena Prima.
Enter Rodorigo, and Iago.
Rodorigo. Neuer tell me, I take it much vnkindly
That thou (Iago) who hast had my purse,
As if y strings were thine, should'st know of this
Ia. But you'l not heare me. If euer I did dream
Of such a matter, abhorre me
Rodo. Thou told'st me,
Thou did'st hold him in thy hate
Iago. Despise me
If I do not. Three Great-ones of the Cittie,
(In personall suite to make me his Lieutenant)
Off-capt to him: and by the faith of man
I know my price, I am worth no worsse a place.
But he (as louing his owne pride, and purposes)
Euades them, with a bumbast Circumstance,
Horribly stufft with Epithites of warre,
Non-suites my Mediators. For certes, saies he,
I haue already chose my Officer. And what was he?
For-sooth, a great Arithmatician,
One Michaell Cassio, a Florentine,
(A Fellow almost damn'd in a faire Wife)
That neuer set a Squadron in the Field,
Nor the deuision of a Battaile knowes
More then a Spinster. Vnlesse the Bookish Theoricke:
Wherein the Tongued Consuls can propose
As Masterly as he. Meere pratle (without practise)
Is all his Souldiership. But he (Sir) had th' election;
And I (of whom his eies had seene the proofe
At Rhodes, at Ciprus, and on others grounds
Christen'd, and Heathen) must be be-leed, and calm'd
By Debitor, and Creditor. This Counter-caster,
He (in good time) must his Lieutenant be,
And I (blesse the marke) his Mooreships Auntient
Rod. By heauen, I rather would haue bin his hangman
Iago. Why, there's no remedie.
'Tis the cursse of Seruice;
Preferment goes by Letter, and affection,
And not by old gradation, where each second
Stood Heire to'th' first. Now Sir, be iudge your selfe,
Whether I in any iust terme am Affin'd
To loue the Moore?
Rod. I would not follow him then
Iago. O Sir content you.
I follow him, to serue my turne vpon him.
We cannot all be Masters, nor all Masters
Cannot be truely follow'd. You shall marke
Many a dutious and knee-crooking knaue;
That (doting on his owne obsequious bondage)
Weares out his time, much like his Masters Asse,
For naught but Prouender, & when he's old Casheer'd.
Whip me such honest knaues. Others there are
Who trym'd in Formes, and visages of Dutie,
Keepe yet their hearts attending on themselues,
And throwing but showes of Seruice on their Lords
Doe well thriue by them.
And when they haue lin'd their Coates
Doe themselues Homage.
These Fellowes haue some soule,
And such a one do I professe my selfe. For (Sir)
It is as sure as you are Rodorigo,
Were I the Moore, I would not be Iago:
In following him, I follow but my selfe.
Heauen is my Iudge, not I for loue and dutie,
But seeming so, for my peculiar end:
For when my outward Action doth demonstrate
The natiue act, and figure of my heart
In Complement externe, 'tis not long after
But I will weare my heart vpon my sleeue
For Dawes to pecke at; I am not what I am
Rod. What a fall Fortune do's the Thicks-lips owe
If he can carry't thus?
Iago. Call vp her Father:
Rowse him, make after him, poyson his delight,
Proclaime him in the Streets. Incense her kinsmen,
And though he in a fertile Clymate dwell,
Plague him with Flies: though that his Ioy be Ioy,
Yet throw such chances of vexation on't,
As it may loose some colour
Rodo. Heere is her Fathers house, Ile call aloud
Iago. Doe, with like timerous accent, and dire yell,
As when (by Night and Negligence) the Fire
Is spied in populus Citties
Rodo. What hoa: Brabantio, Signior Brabantio, hoa
Iago. Awake: what hoa, Brabantio: Theeues, Theeues.
Looke to your house, your daughter, and your Bags,
Bra. Aboue. What is the reason of this terrible
Summons? What is the matter there?
Rodo. Signior is all your Familie within?
Iago. Are your Doores lock'd?
Bra. Why? Wherefore ask you this?
Iago. Sir, y'are rob'd, for shame put on your Gowne,
Your heart is burst, you haue lost halfe your soule
Euen now, now, very now, an old blacke Ram
Is tupping your white Ewe. Arise, arise,
Awake the snorting Cittizens with the Bell,
Or else the deuill will make a Grand-sire of you.
Arise I say
Bra. What, haue you lost your wits?
Rod. Most reuerend Signior, do you know my voice?
Bra. Not I: what are you?
Rod. My name is Rodorigo
Bra. The worsser welcome:
I haue charg'd thee not to haunt about my doores:
In honest plainenesse thou hast heard me say,
My Daughter is not for thee. And now in madnesse
(Being full of Supper, and distempring draughtes)
Vpon malitious knauerie, dost thou come
To start my quiet
Rod. Sir, Sir, Sir
Bra. But thou must needs be sure,
My spirits and my place haue in their power
To make this bitter to thee
Rodo. Patience good Sir
Bra. What tell'st thou me of Robbing?
This is Venice: my house is not a Grange
Rodo. Most graue Brabantio,
In simple and pure soule, I come to you
Ia. Sir: you are one of those that will not serue God, if the deuill bid you. Because we come to do you seruice, and you thinke we are Ruffians, you'le haue your Daughter couer'd with a Barbary horse, you'le haue your Nephewes neigh to you, you'le haue Coursers for Cozens: and Gennets for Germaines
Bra. What prophane wretch art thou?
Ia. I am one Sir, that comes to tell you, your Daughter
and the Moore, are making the Beast with two backs
Bra. Thou art a Villaine
Iago. You are a Senator
Bra. This thou shalt answere. I know thee Rodorigo
Rod. Sir, I will answere any thing. But I beseech you
If't be your pleasure, and most wise consent,
(As partly I find it is) that your faire Daughter,
At this odde Euen and dull watch o'th' night
Transported with no worse nor better guard,
But with a knaue of common hire, a Gundelier,
To the grosse claspes of a Lasciuious Moore:
If this be knowne to you, and your Allowance,
We then haue done you bold, and saucie wrongs.
But if you know not this, my Manners tell me,
We haue your wrong rebuke. Do not beleeue
That from the sence of all Ciuilitie,
I thus would play and trifle with your Reuerence.
Your Daughter (if you haue not giuen her leaue)
I say againe, hath made a grosse reuolt,
Tying her Dutie, Beautie, Wit, and Fortunes
In an extrauagant, and wheeling Stranger,
Of here, and euery where: straight satisfie your selfe.
If she be in her Chamber, or your house,
Let loose on me the Iustice of the State
For thus deluding you
Bra. Strike on the Tinder, hoa:
Giue me a Taper: call vp all my people,
This Accident is not vnlike my dreame,
Beleefe of it oppresses me alreadie.
Light, I say, light.
Iag. Farewell: for I must leaue you.
It seemes not meete, nor wholesome to my place
To be producted, (as if I stay, I shall,)
Against the Moore. For I do know the State,
(How euer this may gall him with some checke)
Cannot with safetie cast-him. For he's embark'd
With such loud reason to the Cyprus Warres,
(Which euen now stands in Act) that for their soules
Another of his Fadome, they haue none,
To lead their Businesse. In which regard,
Though I do hate him as I do hell paines,
Yet, for necessitie of present life,
I must show out a Flag, and signe of Loue,
(Which is indeed but signe) that you shal surely find him
Lead to the Sagitary the raised Search:
And there will I be with him. So farewell.
Enter Brabantio, with Seruants and Torches.
Bra. It is too true an euill. Gone she is,
And what's to come of my despised time,
Is naught but bitternesse. Now Rodorigo,
Where didst thou see her? (Oh vnhappie Girle)
With the Moore saist thou? (Who would be a Father?)
How didst thou know 'twas she? (Oh she deceaues me
Past thought:) what said she to you? Get moe Tapers.
Raise all my Kindred. Are they married thinke you?
Rodo. Truely I thinke they are
Bra. Oh Heauen: how got she out?
Oh treason of the blood.
Fathers, from hence trust not your Daughters minds
By what you see them act. Is there not Charmes,
By which the propertie of Youth, and Maidhood
May be abus'd? Haue you not read Rodorigo,
Of some such thing?
Rod. Yes Sir: I haue indeed
Bra. Call vp my Brother: oh would you had had her.
Some one way, some another. Doe you know
Where we may apprehend her, and the Moore?
Rod. I thinke I can discouer him, if you please
To get good Guard, and go along with me
Bra. Pray you lead on. At euery house Ile call,
(I may command at most) get Weapons (hoa)
And raise some speciall Officers of might:
On good Rodorigo, I will deserue your paines.
Enter Othello, Iago, Attendants, with Torches.
Ia. Though in the trade of Warre I haue slaine men,
Yet do I hold it very stuffe o'th' conscience
To do no contriu'd Murder: I lacke Iniquitie
Sometime to do me seruice. Nine, or ten times
I had thought t'haue yerk'd him here vnder the Ribbes
Othello. 'Tis better as it is
Iago. Nay but he prated,
And spoke such scuruy, and prouoking termes
Against your Honor, that with the little godlinesse I haue
I did full hard forbeare him. But I pray you Sir,
Are you fast married? Be assur'd of this,
That the Magnifico is much belou'd,
And hath in his effect a voice potentiall
As double as the Dukes: He will diuorce you.
Or put vpon you, what restraint or greeuance,
The Law (with all his might, to enforce it on)
Will giue him Cable
Othel. Let him do his spight;
My Seruices, which I haue done the Signorie
Shall out-tongue his Complaints. 'Tis yet to know,
Which when I know, that boasting is an Honour,
I shall promulgate. I fetch my life and being,
From Men of Royall Seige. And my demerites
May speake (vnbonnetted) to as proud a Fortune
As this that I haue reach'd. For know Iago,
But that I loue the gentle Desdemona,
I would not my vnhoused free condition
Put into Circumscription, and Confine,
For the Seas worth. But looke, what Lights come yond?
Enter Cassio, with Torches.
Iago. Those are the raised Father, and his Friends:
You were best go in
Othel. Not I: I must be found.
My Parts, my Title, and my perfect Soule
Shall manifest me rightly. Is it they?
Iago. By Ianus, I thinke no
Othel. The Seruants of the Dukes?
And my Lieutenant?
The goodnesse of the Night vpon you (Friends)
What is the Newes?
Cassio. The Duke do's greet you (Generall)
And he requires your haste, Post-haste appearance,
Euen on the instant
Othello. What is the matter, thinke you?
Cassio. Something from Cyprus, as I may diuine:
It is a businesse of some heate. The Gallies
Haue sent a dozen sequent Messengers
This very night, at one anothers heeles:
And many of the Consuls, rais'd and met,
Are at the Dukes already. You haue bin hotly call'd for,
When being not at your Lodging to be found,
The Senate hath sent about three seuerall Quests,
To search you out
Othel. 'Tis well I am found by you:
I will but spend a word here in the house,
And goe with you
Cassio. Aunciant, what makes he heere?
Iago. Faith, he to night hath boarded a Land Carract,
If it proue lawfull prize, he's made for euer
Cassio. I do not vnderstand
Iago. He's married
Cassio. To who?
Iago. Marry to- Come Captaine, will you go?
Othel. Haue with you
Cassio. Here comes another Troope to seeke for you.
Enter Brabantio, Rodorigo, with Officers, and Torches.
Iago. It is Brabantio: Generall be aduis'd,
He comes to bad intent
Othello. Holla, stand there
Rodo. Signior, it is the Moore
Bra. Downe with him, Theefe
Iago. You, Rodorigo? Come Sir, I am for you
Othe. Keepe vp your bright Swords, for the dew will rust them. Good Signior, you shall more command with yeares, then with your Weapons
Bra. Oh thou foule Theefe,
Where hast thou stow'd my Daughter?
Damn'd as thou art, thou hast enchaunted her
For Ile referre me to all things of sense,
(If she in Chaines of Magick were not bound)
Whether a Maid, so tender, Faire, and Happie,
So opposite to Marriage, that she shun'd
The wealthy curled Deareling of our Nation,
Would euer haue (t' encurre a generall mocke)
Run from her Guardage to the sootie bosome,
Of such a thing as thou: to feare, not to delight?
Iudge me the world, if 'tis not grosse in sense,
That thou hast practis'd on her with foule Charmes,
Abus'd her delicate Youth, with Drugs or Minerals,
That weakens Motion. Ile haue't disputed on,
'Tis probable, and palpable to thinking;
I therefore apprehend and do attach thee,
For an abuser of the World, a practiser
Of Arts inhibited, and out of warrant;
Lay hold vpon him, if he do resist
Subdue him, at his perill
Othe. Hold your hands
Both you of my inclining, and the rest.
Were it my Cue to fight, I should haue knowne it
Without a Prompter. Whether will you that I goe
To answere this your charge?
Bra. To Prison, till fit time
Of Law, and course of direct Session
Call thee to answer
Othe. What if I do obey?
How may the Duke be therewith satisfi'd,
Whose Messengers are heere about my side,
Vpon some present businesse of the State,
To bring me to him
Officer. 'Tis true most worthy Signior,
The Dukes in Counsell, and your Noble selfe,
I am sure is sent for
Bra. How? The Duke in Counsell?
In this time of the night? Bring him away;
Mine's not an idle Cause. The Duke himselfe,
Or any of my Brothers of the State,
Cannot but feele this wrong, as 'twere their owne:
For if such Actions may haue passage free,
Bond-slaues, and Pagans shall our Statesmen be.
Enter Duke, Senators, and Officers.
Duke. There's no composition in this Newes,
That giues them Credite
1.Sen. Indeed, they are disproportioned;
My Letters say, a Hundred and seuen Gallies
Duke. And mine a Hundred fortie
2.Sena. And mine two Hundred:
But though they iumpe not on a iust accompt,
(As in these Cases where the ayme reports,
'Tis oft with difference) yet do they all confirme
A Turkish Fleete, and bearing vp to Cyprus
Duke. Nay, it is possible enough to iudgement:
I do not so secure me in the Error,
But the maine Article I do approue
In fearefull sense
Saylor within. What hoa, what hoa, what hoa.
Officer. A Messenger from the Gallies
Duke. Now? What's the businesse?
Sailor. The Turkish Preparation makes for Rhodes,
So was I bid report here to the State,
By Signior Angelo
Duke. How say you by this change?
1.Sen. This cannot be
By no assay of reason. 'Tis a Pageant
To keepe vs in false gaze, when we consider
Th' importancie of Cyprus to the Turke;
And let our selues againe but vnderstand,
That as it more concernes the Turke then Rhodes,
So may he with more facile question beare it,
For that it stands not in such Warrelike brace,
But altogether lackes th' abilities
That Rhodes is dress'd in. If we make thought of this,
We must not thinke the Turke is so vnskillfull,
To leaue that latest, which concernes him first,
Neglecting an attempt of ease, and gaine
To wake, and wage a danger profitlesse
Duke. Nay, in all confidence he's not for Rhodes
Officer. Here is more Newes.
Enter a Messenger.
Messen. The Ottamites, Reueren'd, and Gracious,
Steering with due course toward the Ile of Rhodes,
Haue there inioynted them with an after Fleete
1.Sen. I, so I thought: how many, as you guesse?
Mess. Of thirtie Saile: and now they do re-stem
Their backward course, bearing with frank appearance
Their purposes toward Cyprus. Signior Montano,
Your trustie and most Valiant Seruitour,
With his free dutie, recommends you thus,
And prayes you to beleeue him
Duke. 'Tis certaine then for Cyprus:
Marcus Luccicos is not he in Towne?
1.Sen. He's now in Florence
Duke. Write from vs,
To him, Post, Post-haste, dispatch
1.Sen. Here comes Brabantio, and the Valiant Moore.
Enter Brabantio, Othello, Cassio, Iago, Rodorigo, and Officers.
Duke. Valiant Othello, we must straight employ you,
Against the generall Enemy Ottoman.
I did not see you: welcome gentle Signior,
We lack't your Counsaile, and your helpe to night
Bra. So did I yours: Good your Grace pardon me.
Neither my place, nor ought I heard of businesse
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