Author: William Shakespeare.
Genre: Literature, fiction, play, tragedy, romance.
Publication Date: Written ~1603.
Summary: The elopement between the exotic and powerful Moor Othello and the Venetian lady Desdemona is strongly opposed by the lady's father, but their strong love and passion for each other causes him to relent. This passion is tested, however, when the cunning and malicious Iago manipulates Othello's rash and jealous nature to suspect his new bride and his most faithful lieutenant, leading to ruin and tragedy.
My rating: 8/10
My review: This play is very much like Hamlet to me - I love the writing, as Shakespeare has never let me down, but I really dislike the main character. Othello is not "rash," or "passionate," as the story wants to paint him - he's completely unhinged. He turns into a murderous lunatic at the slightest provocation, and while one can see how a man like that could catapult up the ranks in warfare, at the same time I would be hard pressed to believe a man like that could ever be a good strategist or a leader to the troops. One almost feels as if he really has it coming, with Desdemona being the unfortunate collateral damage (the exact mirror of Hamlet and Ophelia). Although when Othello explains what had attracted him to Desdemona in the first place, it becomes pretty clear that she married him for his heroism and the great tales thereof, without actually really knowing him as a person. It is, however, Iago that stands out the brightest of all the characters in this play, and I don't wonder why he became one of Shakespeare's most notorious villains. Iago is complex, well-developed, and actually kind of brilliant. What I find the most compelling about him is that he's actually pretty honest when it comes to screwing people over. He reads Othello a long lecture on the pettiness and danger of jealousy before he destroys him with it. When he is not manipulating, he gives the best advice to other characters, about self-worth, about the cowardice of suicide, the irrelevancy of other people's opinions and the cheapness of public opinion in general,
♥ 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 followed. 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 naught but provender: and when he's old, cashiered.
Whip me such honest knaves! Others there are
Who, trimmed in forms and visage of duty,
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;
For when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart
In complement extern, 'tis not long after
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to pick at; I am not what I am.
♥ Barbantio. 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.
♥ Iago. Those are the raiséd father and his friends.
You were best go in.
Othello. Not I. I must be found.
My parts, my title, and my perfect soul
Shall manifest me rightly.
♥ Othello. ...Good signor, you shall more command with years
Than with your weapons.
♥ Othello. Her father loved me; oft invited me;
Still questioned me the story of my life
From year to year, the battle, sieges, fortune
That I have passed.
I rain it through, even from my boyish days
To th' very moment that he bade me tell it.
Wherein I spoke of most disastrous chances,
Of moving accidents by flood and field,
Of hairbreadth scapes i' th' imminent deadly breach,
Of being taken by the insolent foe
And sold to slavery, of my redemption thence
And portance in my travel's history,
Wherein of anters vast and deserts idle,
Rough quarries, rocks, and hills whose heads touch heaven,
It was my hint to speak. Such was my process.
And of the Cannibals that each other eat,
The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads
Grew beneath their shoulders. These things to hear
Would Desdemona seriously incline;
But still the house affairs would draw her thence;
Which ever as she could with haste dispatch,
She'd come again, and with a greedy ear
Devour up my discourse. Which I observing,
Took once a pliant hour, and found good means
To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart
That I would all my pilgrimage dilate,
Whereof by parcels she had something heard,
But not intentively. I did consent,
And often did beguile her of her tears
When I did speak of some distressful stroke
That my youth suffered. My story being done,
She gave me for my pains a world of kisses.
She swore in faith 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange;
'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful.
She wished she had n ot heard it; yet she wished
That heaven had made her such a man. She thanked me,
And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,
UI should but teach him how to tell my story,
And that would woo her. Upon this hint I spake.
She loved me for the dangers I had passed,
And I loved her that she did pity them.
This only is the witchcraft I have used.
♥ Brabantio. Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see:
She has deceived her father, and may thee.
♥ Roderigo. What should I do? I confess it is my shame to be so fond, but it is not in my virtue to amend it.
Iago. Virtue? A fig! 'Tis in ourselves that we are thus, or thus. Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners; so that if we will plant nettles or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up thyme, supply it with one gender of herbs or distract it with many—either to have it sterile with idleness or manured with industry—why, the power and corrigible authority of this lies in our wills. If the balance of our lives had not one scale of reason to poise another of sensuality, the blood and baseness of our natures would conduct us to most prepost'rous conclusions. But we have reason to cool our raging motions, our carnal stings or unbitted lusts, whereof I take this that you call love to be a sect or scion.
Roderigo. It cannot be.
Iago. It is merely a list of the blood and a permission of the will. Come, be a man! Drown myself? Drown cats and blind puppies! I have professed me thy friend, and I confess me knit to thy deserving with cables of perdurable toughness. I could never better stead thee than now. Put money in thy purse. ... Seek thou rather to be hanged in compassing thy joy than to be drowned and go without her.
♥ Iago. .. I have't! It is engendered! Hell and night
Must bring this monstrous birth to the world's light.
♥ Montano. But, good lieutenant, is your general wived?
Cassio. Most fortunately. He hath achieved a maid
That paragons description and wild fame;
One that excels the quirks of blazoning pens,
And in th' essential vesture of creation
Does tire the ingener.
♥ Iago. Come on, come one! You are pictures out of door,
Bells in your parlors, wildcats in your kitchens,
Saints in 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.
♥ Iago. If she be fair and wise: fairness and wit,
The one's for use, the other useth it.
..If she be black, and thereto have a wit,
She'll find a white that shall her blackness fit.
..She never yet was foolish that was fair,
For even her folly helped her to an heir.
..There's none so foul, and foolish thereunto,
But does foul pranks which fair and wise ones do.
..She that was ever fair, and never proud:
Had tongue at will, and yet was never loud;
Never lacked gold, and yet went never gay;
Fled from her wish, and yet said "No I may";
She that being angered, 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 nev'r disclose her mind;
See suitors following, and not look behind:
She was a wight (if ever such wights were)—
Desdemona. To do what?
Iago. To suckle fools and chronicle small beer.
♥ Iago. Make the Moor thank me, love me, and reward me
For making him egregiously an ass
And practicing upon his peace and quiet,
Even to madness. 'Tis here, but yet confused:
Knavery's plain face is never seen till used.
♥ Othello. ..For Christian shame put by this barbarous brawl!
He that stirs next to carve for his own rage
Holds his soul light; he dies upon his motion.
Silence that dreadful bell! It frights the isle
From her propriety.
♥ Othello. ..The gravity and stillness of your youth
The world hath noted, and your name is great
In mouths of wisest censure. What's the matter
That you unlace your reputation thus
And spend your rich opinion for the name
Of a night-brawler?
♥ Othello. ..Come, Desdemona: 'tis a soldiers' life
To have their balmy slumbers waked with strife.
♥ Cassio. Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation, Iago, my reputation.
Iago. As I am an honest man, I had thought you had received some bodily wound. There is more sense in that than in reputation. Reputation is an idle and most false imposition, oft got without merit and lost without deserving. You have lost no reputation at all unless you repute yourself such a loser.
♥ Cassio. ..O thou invisible spirit of wine, if thou hast no name to be known by, let us call thee devil!
♥ Cassio. I remember a mass of things, but nothing distinctly: a quarrel, but nothing wherefore. O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains! that we should with joy, pleasance, revel, and applause transform ourselves into beasts!
♥ Iago. ..So will I turn her virtue into pitch,
And out of hew own goodness make the net
That shall enmesh them all.
♥ Iago. How poor are they that have no patience!
What wound did ever heal but by degrees?
Thou know'st we work by wit, and not by witchcraft;
And wit depends on dilatory time.
..Though other things grow fair against the sun,
Yet fruits that blossom first will first be ripe.
..Pleasure and action make the hours seem short.
..Ay, that's the way!
Dull not device by coldness and delay.
♥ Othello. ..But I do love thee! And when I love thee not,
Chaos is come again.
♥ Clown. ..But, masters, here's money for you; and the general so likes your music that he desires you, for love's sake, to make no more noise with it.
♥ Desdemona. ..Assure thee,
If I do vow a friendship, I'll perform it
To the last article. My lord shall never rest;
I'll watch him tame and talk him out of patience;
His bed shall seem a school, his board a shrift;
I'll intermingle everything he does
With Cassios's suit. Therefore be merry, Cassio,
For thy solicitor shall rather die
Than give thy cause away.
♥ Othello. ..If thou dost love me,
Show my thy thought.
..these stops of thine fright me the more;
For such things in a false disloyal knave
Are tricks of custom; but in a man that's just
They're close dilations, working from the heart
That passion cannot rule.
♥ Iago. Men should be what they seem;
Or those that be not, would they might seem none!
Othello. Certain, men should be what they seem.
♥ Othello. Thou dost conspire against thy friend, Iago,
If thou but think'st him wronged, and mak'st his ear
A stranger to thy thoughts.
♥ Iago. O, beware, my lord, of jealousy!
It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.
..Poor and content is rich, and rich enough;
But riches fineless is as poor as winter
To him that ever fears he shall be poor.
Good God the souls of all my tribe defend
♥ Othello. ..'Tis not to make me jealous
To say my wife is fair, feeds well, loves company,
Is free of speech, sings, plays, and dances;
Where virtue is, these are more virtuous.
Nor from my own weak merits will I draw
The smallest fear or doubt of her revolt,
For she had eyes, and chose me. No, Iago;
I'll see before I doubt; when I doubt, prove;
And on the proof there is no more but this:
Away at once with love or jealousy!
♥ Othello. ..O curse of marriage,
That we can call these delicate creatures ours,
And not their appetites! I had rather be a toad
And live upon the vapor of a dungeon
Than keep a corner in the thing I love
For others' uses.
♥ Iago. ..Trifles light as air
Are to the jealous confirmations strong
As proofs of Holy Writ. This may do something.
The Moor already changes with my poison:
Dangerous conceits are in their natures poisons,
Which at the first are scarce found to distaste,
But, with a little, act upon the blood,
Burn like the mines of sulfur. I did say so.
♥ Othello. ..He that is robbed, not wanting what is stol'n,
Let him not know't, and he's not robbed at all.
♥ Othello. ..And O you mortal engines whose rude throats
Th' immortal Jove's dread clamors counterfeit,
..Villain, be sure thou prove my love a whore!
Be sure of it; give me the ocular proof;
Or, by the worth of mine eternal soul,
Thou hadst been better have been born a dog
Than answer my waked wrath!
..If thou dost slander her and torture me,
Never pray more; abandon all remorse;
On horror's head horrors accumulate;
Do deeds to make heaven weep, all earth amazed;
For nothing canst thou to damnation add
Greater than that.
♥ Othello. ..Arise, black vengeance, from the hollow hell!
Yield up, O Love, thy crown and hearted throne
To tyrannous hate! Swell, bosom, with thy fraught,
For 'tis of aspics' tongues.
...O, blood, blood, blood!
Iago. Patience, I say. Your mind may change.
Othello. Never, Iago. Like to the Pontic Sea,
Whose icy current and compulsive course
Nev'r keeps retiring ebb, but keept due on
To the Propontic and the Hellespont,
Even so my bloody thoughts, with violent pace,
Shall nev'r look back, nev'r ebb to humble love,
Till that a capable and wide revenge
Swallow them up. [He kneels.] Now, but yond marble heaven,
In the due reverence of a sacred vow
I here engage my words.
♥ Clown. To do this is within the compass of man's wit
and therefore I will attempt the doing it.
♥ Othello. Give me your hand. This hand is moist, my lady.
Desdemona. It hath felt no age nor known no sorrow.
Othello. This argues fruitfulness and liberal heart.
Hot, hot, and moist. This hand of yours requires
A sequester from liberty; fasting and prayer;
Much castigation; exercise devout;
For here's a young and sweating devil here
That commonly rebels. 'Tis a good hand,
A frank one.
Desdemona. You may, indeed, say so;
For 'twas that hand that gave away my heart.
Othello. A liberal hand! The hearts of old gave hands,
But our new heraldry is hands, not hearts.
♥ Emilia. 'Tis not a year or two shows us a man.
They are all but stomachs, and we all but food;
They eat us hungerly, and when they are full,
They belch us.
♥ Emilia. But jealous souls will not be answered so;
They are not ever jealous for the cause,
But jealous for they're jealous, It is a monster
Begot upon itself, born on itself.
♥ Iago. Her honor is an essence that's not seen;
They have it very oft that have it not.
♥ Othello. A hornèd man's a monster and a beast.
Iago. There's many a beast then in a populous city,
And may a civil monster.
♥ Iago. Marry patience
Or I shall say you're all in all in spleen,
And nothing of a man.
♥ Othello. So, so, so, so. They laugh that win.
♥ Othello. O devil, devil!
If that the earth could teem with woman's tears,
Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile.
♥ Desdemona. ..Unkindness may do much,
And his unkindness may defeat my life,
But never taint my love.
♥ Desdemona. [Sings]
"The poor soul sat singing 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 murmured her moans;
Sing willow, willow, willow;
Her salt tears fell from her, and soft'ned the stones
Sing willow, willow, willow—
..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."
♥ Desdemona. ..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?
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!
Emilia. Nor I neither by this heavenly light.
I might do't as well i' th' 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.
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 exhibition, bur for all the whole world? Why, who would not make her husband a cuckold to make him a monarch? I should venture purgatory for't.
♥ Emilia. ..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.
♥ Othello. ..Forth of my heart those charms, thine eyes, are blotted.
Thy bed, lust-stained, shall with lust's blood be spotted.
♥ Othello. Think on thy sins.
Desdemona. They are loves I bear to you.
Othello. Ay, and for that thou diest.
Desdemona. That death's unnatural that kills for loving.
♥ Othello. ..My wife! My wife! What wife? I have no wife.
O, insupportable! O heavy hour!
Methinks it should be now a huge eclipse
Of sun and moon, and that th' affrighted globe
Should yawn at alteration.
♥ Emilia. 'Twill out, 'twill out! I peace?
No, I will speak as liberal as the north.
Let heaven and men and devils, let them all,
All, all, cry shame against me, yet I'll speak.
♥ Othello. ..But why should honor outlive honesty?
♥ Othello. ..I have seen the day
That with this little arm and this good sword
I have made my way through more impediments
Than twenty times your stop. But O vain boast!
Who can control his fate? 'Tis not so now.
Be no afraid, though you do see me weaponed.
Here is my journey's end, here is my butt,
And very seamark of my utmost sail.
..I pray you, in your letters,
When you shall these unlucky deeds relate,
Speak of me as I am. Nothing extenuate,
Nor set down aught in malice. Then must you speak
Of one that loved not wisely, but too well;
Of one not easily jealous, but, being wrought,
Perplexed in the extreme; of one whose hand,
Like the base Judean, threw a pearl away
Richer than all his tribe.
..I kissed thee ere I killed thee. No way but this,
Killing myself, to die upon a kiss.