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Othello (1604)
Synopsis: Othello is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1603. It is based on the story Un Capitano Moro by Cinthio, a disciple of Boccaccio, first published in 1565.

ACT I:

SCENE I. Venice. A street.

Enter RODERIGO and IAGO

RODERIGO:

Tush! never tell me; I take it much unkindly

That thou, Iago, who hast had my purse

As if the strings were thine, shouldst know of this.

IAGO:

'Sblood, but you will not hear me:

If ever I did dream of such a matter, Abhor me.

RODERIGO:

Thou told'st me thou didst hold him in thy hate.

IAGO:

Despise me, if I do not. Three great ones of the city,

In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,

Off-capp'd to him: and, by the faith of man,

I know my price, I am worth no worse a place:

But he; as loving his own pride and purposes,

Evades them, with a bombast circumstance

Horribly stuff'd with epithets of war;

And, in conclusion,

Nonsuits my mediators; for, 'Certes,' says he,

'I have already chose my officer.'

And what was he?

Forsooth, a great arithmetician,

One Michael Cassio, a Florentine,

A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife;

That never set a squadron in the field,

Nor the division of a battle knows

More than a spinster; unless the bookish theoric,

Wherein the toged consuls can propose

As masterly as he: mere prattle, without practise,

Is all his soldiership. But he, sir, had the election:

And I, of whom his eyes had seen the proof

At Rhodes, at Cyprus and on other grounds

Christian and heathen, must be be-lee'd and calm'd

By debitor and creditor: this counter-caster,

He, in good time, must his lieutenant be,

And I--God bless the mark!--his Moorship's ancient.

RODERIGO:

By heaven, I rather would have been his hangman.

IAGO:

Why, there's no remedy; 'tis the curse of service,

Preferment goes by letter and affection,

And not by old gradation, where each second

Stood heir to the first. Now, sir, be judge yourself,

Whether I in any just term am affined

To love the Moor.

RODERIGO:

I would not follow him then.

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 follow'd. 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 nought but provender, and when he's old, cashier'd:

Whip me such honest knaves. Others there are

Who, trimm'd in forms and visages 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 compliment extern, 'tis not long after

But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve

For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.

RODERIGO:

What a full fortune does the thicklips owe

If he can carry't thus!

IAGO:

Call up her father,

Rouse him:
make after him, poison his delight,

Proclaim him in the streets; incense her kinsmen,

And, though he in a fertile climate dwell,

Plague him with flies: though that his joy be joy,

Yet throw such changes of vexation on't,

As it may lose some colour.

RODERIGO:

Here is her father's house; I'll call aloud.

IAGO:

Do, with like timorous accent and dire yell

As when, by night and negligence, the fire

Is spied in populous cities.

RODERIGO:

What, ho, Brabantio! Signior Brabantio, ho!

IAGO:

Awake! what, ho, Brabantio! thieves! thieves! thieves!

Look to your house, your daughter and your bags!

Thieves! thieves!

BRABANTIO appears above, at a window

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William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet, and the "Bard of Avon". more…

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