This page contains the original text of Act 4 of Othello. Shakespeare’s original Othello text is extremely long, so we’ve split the text into one Act per page. All Acts are listed on the Othello text page, or linked to from the bottom of this page.
ACT 4, SCENE 1. Cyprus. Before the castle.
Enter OTHELLO and IAGO
Will you think so?
Think so, Iago!
To kiss in private?
An unauthorized kiss.
Or to be naked with her friend in bed
An hour or more, not meaning any harm?
Naked in bed, Iago, and not mean harm!
It is hypocrisy against the devil:
They that mean virtuously, and yet do so,
The devil their virtue tempts, and they tempt heaven.
So they do nothing, ’tis a venial slip:
But if I give my wife a handkerchief,–
Why, then, ’tis hers, my lord; and, being hers,
She may, I think, bestow’t on any man.
She is protectress of her honour too:
May she give that?
Her honour is an essence that’s not seen;
They have it very oft that have it not:
But, for the handkerchief,–
By heaven, I would most gladly have forgot it.
Thou said’st, it comes o’er my memory,
As doth the raven o’er the infected house,
Boding to all–he had my handkerchief.
Ay, what of that?
That’s not so good now.
If I had said I had seen him do you wrong?
Or heard him say,–as knaves be such abroad,
Who having, by their own importunate suit,
Or voluntary dotage of some mistress,
Convinced or supplied them, cannot choose
But they must blab–
Hath he said any thing?
He hath, my lord; but be you well assured,
No more than he’ll unswear.
What hath he said?
‘Faith, that he did–I know not what he did.
With her, on her; what you will.
Lie with her! lie on her! We say lie on her, when
they belie her. Lie with her! that’s fulsome.
confess, and be hanged for his labour;–first, to be
hanged, and then to confess.–I tremble at it.
Nature would not invest herself in such shadowing
passion without some instruction. It is not words
that shake me thus. Pish! Noses, ears, and lips.
–Is’t possible?–Confess–handkerchief!–O devil!–
Falls in a trance
My medicine, work! Thus credulous fools are caught;
And many worthy and chaste dames even thus,
All guiltless, meet reproach. What, ho! my lord!
My lord, I say! Othello!
How now, Cassio!
What’s the matter?
My lord is fall’n into an epilepsy:
This is his second fit; he had one yesterday.
Rub him about the temples.
The lethargy must have his quiet course:
If not, he foams at mouth and by and by
Breaks out to savage madness. Look he stirs:
Do you withdraw yourself a little while,
He will recover straight: when he is gone,
I would on great occasion speak with you.
How is it, general? have you not hurt your head?
Dost thou mock me?
I mock you! no, by heaven.
Would you would bear your fortune like a man!
A horned man’s a monster and a beast.
There’s many a beast then in a populous city,
And many a civil monster.
Did he confess it?
Good sir, be a man;
Think every bearded fellow that’s but yoked
May draw with you: there’s millions now alive
That nightly lie in those unproper beds
Which they dare swear peculiar: your case is better.
O, ’tis the spite of hell, the fiend’s arch-mock,
To lip a wanton in a secure couch,
And to suppose her chaste! No, let me know;
And knowing what I am, I know what she shall be.
O, thou art wise; ’tis certain.
Stand you awhile apart;
Confine yourself but in a patient list.
Whilst you were here o’erwhelmed with your grief–
A passion most unsuiting such a man–
Cassio came hither: I shifted him away,
And laid good ‘scuse upon your ecstasy,
Bade him anon return and here speak with me;
The which he promised. Do but encave yourself,
And mark the fleers, the gibes, and notable scorns,
That dwell in every region of his face;
For I will make him tell the tale anew,
Where, how, how oft, how long ago, and when
He hath, and is again to cope your wife:
I say, but mark his gesture. Marry, patience;
Or I shall say you are all in all in spleen,
And nothing of a man.
Dost thou hear, Iago?
I will be found most cunning in my patience;
But–dost thou hear?–most bloody.
That’s not amiss;
But yet keep time in all. Will you withdraw?
Now will I question Cassio of Bianca,
A housewife that by selling her desires
Buys herself bread and clothes: it is a creature
That dotes on Cassio; as ’tis the strumpet’s plague
To beguile many and be beguiled by one:
He, when he hears of her, cannot refrain
From the excess of laughter. Here he comes:
As he shall smile, Othello shall go mad;
And his unbookish jealousy must construe
Poor Cassio’s smiles, gestures and light behavior,
Quite in the wrong. How do you now, lieutenant?
The worser that you give me the addition
Whose want even kills me.
Ply Desdemona well, and you are sure on’t.
Now, if this suit lay in Bianco’s power,
How quickly should you speed!
Alas, poor caitiff!
Look, how he laughs already!
I never knew woman love man so.
Alas, poor rogue! I think, i’ faith, she loves me.
Now he denies it faintly, and laughs it out.
Do you hear, Cassio?
Now he importunes him
To tell it o’er: go to; well said, well said.
She gives it out that you shall marry hey:
Do you intend it?
Ha, ha, ha!
Do you triumph, Roman? do you triumph?
I marry her! what? a customer! Prithee, bear some
charity to my wit: do not think it so unwholesome.
Ha, ha, ha!
So, so, so, so: they laugh that win.
‘Faith, the cry goes that you shall marry her.
Prithee, say true.
I am a very villain else.
Have you scored me? Well.
This is the monkey’s own giving out: she is
persuaded I will marry her, out of her own love and
flattery, not out of my promise.
Iago beckons me; now he begins the story.
She was here even now; she haunts me in every place.
I was the other day talking on the sea-bank with
certain Venetians; and thither comes the bauble,
and, by this hand, she falls me thus about my neck–
Crying ‘O dear Cassio!’ as it were: his gesture
So hangs, and lolls, and weeps upon me; so hales,
and pulls me: ha, ha, ha!
Now he tells how she plucked him to my chamber. O,
I see that nose of yours, but not that dog I shall
throw it to.
Well, I must leave her company.
Before me! look, where she comes.
‘Tis such another fitchew! marry a perfumed one.
What do you mean by this haunting of me?
Let the devil and his dam haunt you! What did you
mean by that same handkerchief you gave me even now?
I was a fine fool to take it. I must take out the
work?–A likely piece of work, that you should find
it in your chamber, and not know who left it there!
This is some minx’s token, and I must take out the
work? There; give it your hobby-horse: wheresoever
you had it, I’ll take out no work on’t.
How now, my sweet Bianca! how now! how now!
By heaven, that should be my handkerchief!
An you’ll come to supper to-night, you may; an you
will not, come when you are next prepared for.
After her, after her.
‘Faith, I must; she’ll rail in the street else.
Will you sup there?
‘Faith, I intend so.
Well, I may chance to see you; for I would very fain
speak with you.
Prithee, come; will you?
Go to; say no more.
[Advancing] How shall I murder him, Iago?
Did you perceive how he laughed at his vice?
And did you see the handkerchief?
Was that mine?
Yours by this hand: and to see how he prizes the
foolish woman your wife! she gave it him, and he
hath given it his whore.
I would have him nine years a-killing.
A fine woman! a fair woman! a sweet woman!
Nay, you must forget that.
Ay, let her rot, and perish, and be damned to-night;
for she shall not live: no, my heart is turned to
stone; I strike it, and it hurts my hand. O, the
world hath not a sweeter creature: she might lie by
an emperor’s side and command him tasks.
Nay, that’s not your way.
Hang her! I do but say what she is: so delicate
with her needle: an admirable musician: O! she
will sing the savageness out of a bear: of so high
and plenteous wit and invention:–
She’s the worse for all this.
O, a thousand thousand times: and then, of so
gentle a condition!
Ay, too gentle.
Nay, that’s certain: but yet the pity of it, Iago!
O Iago, the pity of it, Iago!
If you are so fond over her iniquity, give her
patent to offend; for, if it touch not you, it comes
I will chop her into messes: cuckold me!
O, ’tis foul in her.
With mine officer!
Get me some poison, Iago; this night: I’ll not
expostulate with her, lest her body and beauty
unprovide my mind again: this night, Iago.
Do it not with poison, strangle her in her bed, even
the bed she hath contaminated.
Good, good: the justice of it pleases: very good.
And for Cassio, let me be his undertaker: you
shall hear more by midnight.
A trumpet within
What trumpet is that same?
Something from Venice, sure. ‘Tis Lodovico
Come from the duke: and, see, your wife is with him.
Enter LODOVICO, DESDEMONA, and Attendants
Save you, worthy general!
With all my heart, sir.
The duke and senators of Venice greet you.
Gives him a letter
I kiss the instrument of their pleasures.
Opens the letter, and reads
And what’s the news, good cousin Lodovico?
I am very glad to see you, signior
Welcome to Cyprus.
I thank you. How does Lieutenant Cassio?
Cousin, there’s fall’n between him and my lord
An unkind breach: but you shall make all well.
Are you sure of that?
[Reads] ‘This fail you not to do, as you will–’
He did not call; he’s busy in the paper.
Is there division ‘twixt my lord and Cassio?
A most unhappy one: I would do much
To atone them, for the love I bear to Cassio.
Fire and brimstone!
Are you wise?
What, is he angry?
May be the letter moved him;
For, as I think, they do command him home,
Deputing Cassio in his government.
Trust me, I am glad on’t.
I am glad to see you mad.
Why, sweet Othello,–
[Striking her] Devil!
I have not deserved this.
My lord, this would not be believed in Venice,
Though I should swear I saw’t: ’tis very much:
Make her amends; she weeps.
O devil, devil!
If that the earth could teem with woman’s tears,
Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile.
Out of my sight!
I will not stay to offend you.
Truly, an obedient lady:
I do beseech your lordship, call her back.
What would you with her, sir?
Who, I, my lord?
Ay; you did wish that I would make her turn:
Sir, she can turn, and turn, and yet go on,
And turn again; and she can weep, sir, weep;
And she’s obedient, as you say, obedient,
Very obedient. Proceed you in your tears.
Concerning this, sir,–O well-painted passion!–
I am commanded home. Get you away;
I’ll send for you anon. Sir, I obey the mandate,
And will return to Venice. Hence, avaunt!
Cassio shall have my place. And, sir, tonight,
I do entreat that we may sup together:
You are welcome, sir, to Cyprus.–Goats and monkeys!
Is this the noble Moor whom our full senate
Call all in all sufficient? Is this the nature
Whom passion could not shake? whose solid virtue
The shot of accident, nor dart of chance,
Could neither graze nor pierce?
He is much changed.
Are his wits safe? is he not light of brain?
He’s that he is: I may not breathe my censure
What he might be: if what he might he is not,
I would to heaven he were!
What, strike his wife!
‘Faith, that was not so well; yet would I knew
That stroke would prove the worst!
Is it his use?
Or did the letters work upon his blood,
And new-create this fault?
It is not honesty in me to speak
What I have seen and known. You shall observe him,
And his own courses will denote him so
That I may save my speech: do but go after,
And mark how he continues.
I am sorry that I am deceived in him.
SCENE II. A room in the castle.
Enter OTHELLO and EMILIA
You have seen nothing then?
Nor ever heard, nor ever did suspect.
Yes, you have seen Cassio and she together.
But then I saw no harm, and then I heard
Each syllable that breath made up between them.
What, did they never whisper?
Never, my lord.
Nor send you out o’ the way?
To fetch her fan, her gloves, her mask, nor nothing?
Never, my lord.
I durst, my lord, to wager she is honest,
Lay down my soul at stake: if you think other,
Remove your thought; it doth abuse your bosom.
If any wretch have put this in your head,
Let heaven requite it with the serpent’s curse!
For, if she be not honest, chaste, and true,
There’s no man happy; the purest of their wives
Is foul as slander.
Bid her come hither: go.
She says enough; yet she’s a simple bawd
That cannot say as much. This is a subtle whore,
A closet lock and key of villanous secrets
And yet she’ll kneel and pray; I have seen her do’t.
Enter DESDEMONA with EMILIA
My lord, what is your will?
Pray, chuck, come hither.
What is your pleasure?
Let me see your eyes;
Look in my face.
What horrible fancy’s this?
[To EMILIA] Some of your function, mistress;
Leave procreants alone and shut the door;
Cough, or cry ‘hem,’ if any body come:
Your mystery, your mystery: nay, dispatch.
Upon my knees, what doth your speech import?
I understand a fury in your words.
But not the words.
Why, what art thou?
Your wife, my lord; your true
And loyal wife.
Come, swear it, damn thyself
Lest, being like one of heaven, the devils themselves
Should fear to seize thee: therefore be double damn’d:
Swear thou art honest.
Heaven doth truly know it.
Heaven truly knows that thou art false as hell.
To whom, my lord? with whom? how am I false?
O Desdemona! away! away! away!
Alas the heavy day! Why do you weep?
Am I the motive of these tears, my lord?
If haply you my father do suspect
An instrument of this your calling back,
Lay not your blame on me: If you have lost him,
Why, I have lost him too.
Had it pleased heaven
To try me with affliction; had they rain’d
All kinds of sores and shames on my bare head.
Steep’d me in poverty to the very lips,
Given to captivity me and my utmost hopes,
I should have found in some place of my soul
A drop of patience: but, alas, to make me
A fixed figure for the time of scorn
To point his slow unmoving finger at!
Yet could I bear that too; well, very well:
But there, where I have garner’d up my heart,
Where either I must live, or bear no life;
The fountain from the which my current runs,
Or else dries up; to be discarded thence!
Or keep it as a cistern for foul toads
To knot and gender in! Turn thy complexion there,
Patience, thou young and rose-lipp’d cherubin,–
Ay, there, look grim as hell!
I hope my noble lord esteems me honest.
O, ay; as summer flies are in the shambles,
That quicken even with blowing. O thou weed,
Who art so lovely fair and smell’st so sweet
That the sense aches at thee, would thou hadst
ne’er been born!
Alas, what ignorant sin have I committed?
Was this fair paper, this most goodly book,
Made to write ‘whore’ upon? What committed!
Committed! O thou public commoner!
I should make very forges of my cheeks,
That would to cinders burn up modesty,
Did I but speak thy deeds. What committed!
Heaven stops the nose at it and the moon winks,
The bawdy wind that kisses all it meets
Is hush’d within the hollow mine of earth,
And will not hear it. What committed!
By heaven, you do me wrong.
Are you not a strumpet?
No, as I am a Christian:
If to preserve this vessel for my lord
From any other foul unlawful touch
Be not to be a strumpet, I am none.
What, not a whore?
No, as I shall be saved.
O, heaven forgive us!
I cry you mercy, then:
I took you for that cunning whore of Venice
That married with Othello.
Raising his voice
That have the office opposite to Saint Peter,
And keep the gate of hell!
You, you, ay, you!
We have done our course; there’s money for your pains:
I pray you, turn the key and keep our counsel.
Alas, what does this gentleman conceive?
How do you, madam? how do you, my good lady?
‘Faith, half asleep.
Good madam, what’s the matter with my lord?
Why, with my lord, madam.
Who is thy lord?
He that is yours, sweet lady.
I have none: do not talk to me, Emilia;
I cannot weep; nor answer have I none,
But what should go by water. Prithee, tonight
Lay on my bed my wedding sheets: remember;
And call thy husband hither.
Here’s a change indeed!
‘Tis meet I should be used so, very meet.
How have I been behaved, that he might stick
The small’st opinion on my least misuse?
Re-enter EMILIA with IAGO
What is your pleasure, madam?
How is’t with you?
I cannot tell. Those that do teach young babes
Do it with gentle means and easy tasks:
He might have chid me so; for, in good faith,
I am a child to chiding.
What’s the matter, lady?
Alas, Iago, my lord hath so bewhored her.
Thrown such despite and heavy terms upon her,
As true hearts cannot bear.
Am I that name, Iago?
What name, fair lady?
Such as she says my lord did say I was.
He call’d her whore: a beggar in his drink
Could not have laid such terms upon his callat.
Why did he so?
I do not know; I am sure I am none such.
Do not weep, do not weep. Alas the day!
Hath she forsook so many noble matches,
Her father and her country and her friends,
To be call’d whore? would it not make one weep?
It is my wretched fortune.
Beshrew him for’t!
How comes this trick upon him?
Nay, heaven doth know.
I will be hang’d, if some eternal villain,
Some busy and insinuating rogue,
Some cogging, cozening slave, to get some office,
Have not devised this slander; I’ll be hang’d else.
Fie, there is no such man; it is impossible.
If any such there be, heaven pardon him!
A halter pardon him! and hell gnaw his bones!
Why should he call her whore? who keeps her company?
What place? what time? what form? what likelihood?
The Moor’s abused by some most villanous knave,
Some base notorious knave, some scurvy fellow.
O heaven, that such companions thou’ldst unfold,
And put in every honest hand a whip
To lash the rascals naked through the world
Even from the east to the west!
Speak within door.
O, fie upon them! Some such squire he was
That turn’d your wit the seamy side without,
And made you to suspect me with the Moor.
You are a fool; go to.
O good Iago,
What shall I do to win my lord again?
Good friend, go to him; for, by this light of heaven,
I know not how I lost him. Here I kneel:
If e’er my will did trespass ‘gainst his love,
Either in discourse of thought or actual deed,
Or that mine eyes, mine ears, or any sense,
Delighted them in any other form;
Or that I do not yet, and ever did.
And ever will–though he do shake me off
To beggarly divorcement–love him dearly,
Comfort forswear me! Unkindness may do much;
And his unkindness may defeat my life,
But never taint my love. I cannot say ‘whore:’
It does abhor me now I speak the word;
To do the act that might the addition earn
Not the world’s mass of vanity could make me.
I pray you, be content; ’tis but his humour:
The business of the state does him offence,
And he does chide with you.
If ’twere no other–
‘Tis but so, I warrant.
Hark, how these instruments summon to supper!
The messengers of Venice stay the meat;
Go in, and weep not; all things shall be well.
Exeunt DESDEMONA and EMILIA
How now, Roderigo!
I do not find that thou dealest justly with me.
What in the contrary?
Every day thou daffest me with some device, Iago;
and rather, as it seems to me now, keepest from me
all conveniency than suppliest me with the least
advantage of hope. I will indeed no longer endure
it, nor am I yet persuaded to put up in peace what
already I have foolishly suffered.
Will you hear me, Roderigo?
‘Faith, I have heard too much, for your words and
performances are no kin together.
You charge me most unjustly.
With nought but truth. I have wasted myself out of
my means. The jewels you have had from me to
deliver to Desdemona would half have corrupted a
votarist: you have told me she hath received them
and returned me expectations and comforts of sudden
respect and acquaintance, but I find none.
Well; go to; very well.
Very well! go to! I cannot go to, man; nor ’tis
not very well: nay, I think it is scurvy, and begin
to find myself fobbed in it.
I tell you ’tis not very well. I will make myself
known to Desdemona: if she will return me my
jewels, I will give over my suit and repent my
unlawful solicitation; if not, assure yourself I
will seek satisfaction of you.
You have said now.
Ay, and said nothing but what I protest intendment of doing.
Why, now I see there’s mettle in thee, and even from
this instant to build on thee a better opinion than
ever before. Give me thy hand, Roderigo: thou hast
taken against me a most just exception; but yet, I
protest, I have dealt most directly in thy affair.
It hath not appeared.
I grant indeed it hath not appeared, and your
suspicion is not without wit and judgment. But,
Roderigo, if thou hast that in thee indeed, which I
have greater reason to believe now than ever, I mean
purpose, courage and valour, this night show it: if
thou the next night following enjoy not Desdemona,
take me from this world with treachery and devise
engines for my life.
Well, what is it? is it within reason and compass?
Sir, there is especial commission come from Venice
to depute Cassio in Othello’s place.
Is that true? why, then Othello and Desdemona
return again to Venice.
O, no; he goes into Mauritania and takes away with
him the fair Desdemona, unless his abode be
lingered here by some accident: wherein none can be
so determinate as the removing of Cassio.
How do you mean, removing of him?
Why, by making him uncapable of Othello’s place;
knocking out his brains.
And that you would have me to do?
Ay, if you dare do yourself a profit and a right.
He sups to-night with a harlotry, and thither will I
go to him: he knows not yet of his horrorable
fortune. If you will watch his going thence, which
I will fashion to fall out between twelve and one,
you may take him at your pleasure: I will be near
to second your attempt, and he shall fall between
us. Come, stand not amazed at it, but go along with
me; I will show you such a necessity in his death
that you shall think yourself bound to put it on
him. It is now high suppertime, and the night grows
to waste: about it.
I will hear further reason for this.
And you shall be satisfied.
SCENE III. Another room In the castle.
Enter OTHELLO, LODOVICO, DESDEMONA, EMILIA and Attendants
I do beseech you, sir, trouble yourself no further.
O, pardon me: ’twill do me good to walk.
Madam, good night; I humbly thank your ladyship.
Your honour is most welcome.
Will you walk, sir?
Get you to bed on the instant; I will be returned
forthwith: dismiss your attendant there: look it be done.
I will, my lord.
Exeunt OTHELLO, LODOVICO, and Attendants
How goes it now? he looks gentler than he did.
He says he will return incontinent:
He hath commanded me to go to bed,
And bade me to dismiss you.
It was his bidding: therefore, good Emilia,.
Give me my nightly wearing, and adieu:
We must not now displease him.
I would you had never seen him!
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.
I have laid those sheets you bade me on the bed.
All’s one. Good faith, how foolish are our minds!
If I do die before thee prithee, shroud me
In one of those same sheets.
Come, come you talk.
My mother had a maid call’d Barbara:
She was in love, and he she loved proved mad
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,
And sing it like poor Barbara. Prithee, dispatch.
Shall I go fetch your night-gown?
No, unpin me here.
This Lodovico is a proper man.
A very handsome man.
He speaks well.
I know a lady in Venice would have walked barefoot
to Palestine for a touch of his nether lip.
[Singing] The poor soul sat sighing by a sycamore tree,
Sing all a green willow:
Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knee,
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:–
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?
It’s the wind.
[Singing] I call’d 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;
Doth that bode weeping?
‘Tis neither here nor there.
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
In such gross kind?
There be some such, no question.
Wouldst thou do such a deed for all the world?
Why, would not you?
No, by this heavenly light!
Nor I neither by this heavenly light;
I might do’t as well i’ the dark.
Wouldst thou do such a deed for all the world?
The world’s a huge thing: it is a great price.
For a small vice.
In troth, I think thou wouldst not.
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
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.
Beshrew me, if I would do such a wrong
For the whole world.
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.
I do not think there is any such woman.
Yes, a dozen; and as many to the vantage as would
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,
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
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?
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.
Good night, good night: heaven me such uses send,
Not to pick bad from bad, but by bad mend!