"A Divided Duty"

Context: Desdemona, daughter of a Venetian senator, Brabantio, elopes with a Moor, Othello, a military commander in the service of Venice. Her father, incensed, brings his grievance and Othello before the duke who is sitting late in council. The senator accuses Othello of using charms, potions, magic, and witchcraft in his courtship. Othello denies the charges and sends for his bride. He then relates to the duke, Brabantio, and the council how he courted the lady. He concludes as Desdemona arrives. Brabantio immediately puts her to a test: to choose "in all this noble company where most you owe obedience."


DESDEMONA
My noble father,
I do perceive here a divided duty.
To you I am bound for life and education;
My life and education both do learn me
How to respect you; you are the lord of duty,
I am hitherto your daughter. But here's my husband;
And so much duty as my mother showed
To you, preferring you before her father,
So much I challenge that I may profess
Due to the Moor my lord.

"A Fellow Almost Damned In A Fair Wife"

Context: In the opening scene of the play–in conversation with Roderigo–Iago berates Othello, his military superior, for failure to promote him to second-in-command. Instead, the lieutenancy has been awarded to Cassio, a young Florentine whom Iago denounces as bookish and inexperienced. In his tirade against this new appointee, Iago makes a remark about Cassio's wife which has frequently puzzled readers of the play. "Damned in a fair wife" reflects, of course, a proverbial attitude that a beautiful wife is a source of trouble for her husband. But Shakespeare does not provide Cassio a wife in the play. Perhaps he had originally intended to do so and failed to delete this line when he decided otherwise; in the Italian work by Geraldio Cinthio which served as Shakespeare's source, the captain is indeed married, though not cuckolded. Or perhaps Iago is making a snide remark about the courtesan Bianca and her unsuccessful matrimonial purusit of the lieutenant. In any case, the immediate context is clear. According to Iago, Cassio has neither the experience nor the manliness for his new position. The following lines set the stage for Iago's open declaration of villainy–that he follow Othello but to serve his turn upon him. His subsequent determination to prod Othello into mad jealousy on circumstantial evidence concerning Desdemona's fidelity forms the main action of the plot.


IAGO
. . .
Forsooth, a great arithmetician,
One Michael Cassio, a Florentine,
A fellow almost damned 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 practice
In all his soldiership. But he, sir, had th' 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-leed and calmed
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.

"A Foregone Conclusion"

Context: Othello, a Moor, is the military governor of Cyprus in the service of Venice. He chose Michael Cassio as his lieutenant in preference to Iago, whom he made his ancient (or ensign), a lower ranking officer. As a result, Iago hates Othello, is envious of Cassio, and determines to destroy them both. By means of brilliant machinations, evil dissimulation, and luck, he implants in Othello's mind the thought that Desdemona, his bride, is unfaithful to him with Cassio. While seeming to be solicitous for Othello's sensitivities, in reality he cultivates the seed of jealousy in Othello's mind until the latter is racked with doubt and anguish. The Moor turns on his tormentor and demands proof of his wife's frailty. Iago, resourcefully and falsely, relates how he recently slept in Cassio's room and how Cassio talked and acted about Desdemona in a dream. Othello believes Iago's lies, and his distraction is complete.


OTHELLO
O monstrous! Monstrous!
IAGO
Nay, this was but his dream.
OTHELLO
But this denoted a foregone conclusion.
IAGO
'Tis a shrewd doubt, though it be but a dream,
And this may help to thicken other proofs
That do demonstrate thinly.
OTHELLO
I'll tear her all to pieces.

"A World Of Sighs"

Context: Desdemona, daughter of Brabantio, a Venetian senator, elopes with a Moor, Othello, a military commander in the service of Venice. Her father, aroused in the dead of night and informed of the elopment, is incensed. He bring his grievance and Othello before the duke, who is in late council. He accuses Othello of using witchcraft in his courtship, for black magic would be necessary, he says, "for nature so preposterously to err." Othello, called upon to speak, denies the use of charms, witchcraft, magic, and drugs. He relates the story of his courtship; how he pictured for Desdemona the story of the battles, sieges, fortunes, narrow escapes, and wonders of his life. He speaks of Desdemona's reaction:


OTHELLO
. . .
My story being done,
She gave me for my pains a world of sighs.
She swore, in faith 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange,
'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful.
She wished she had not heard it, yet she wished
That heaven had made her such a man.
. . .

"Chaos Is Come Again"

Context: Cassio, friend and former lieutenant to Othello, the Moor of Venice, is out of favor with his lord because of a drunken brawl engineered by Iago, the jealous ensign who had hoped for the position to which Cassio has been appointed. At the suggestions of Iago, who intends to destroy Cassio, the repentant officer pleads with Desdemona, wife of the valiant Moor, to speak for him. She consents, but, in the course of her persistent pleading, becomes mildly annoying to Othello, who loves her so much that he cannot really find fault with her. He compares life without her love to the disorder before the creation of the world.


DESDEMONA
. . . What, Michael Cassio,
That came a-wooing with you; and so many a time,
When I have spoke of you dispraisingly,
Hath ta'en your part; . . .
. . .
OTHELLO
I will deny thee nothing.
Whereon, I do beseech thee, grant me this,
To leave me but a little to myself.
DESDEMONA
Shall I deny you? No. Farewell my lord.
. . .
OTHELLO
Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul
But I do love thee; and when I love thee not,
Chaos is come again.

"Farewell The Tranquil Mind"

Context: Othello, the honest and honorable Moorish military governor of Cyprus who is in the service of Venice, chose Michael Cassio as his lieutenant. Iago, an ancient (or ensign), a lower rank, hates Othello and is envious of Cassio because he thinks he should have been preferred. He determines to destroy them both. By means of brilliant machination, evil dissimulation, and luck, he implants in Othello's mind the thought that Desdemona, Othello's bride, is unfaithful to him with Cassio. While seeming to be solicitous for Othello's sensitivities, in reality he nurtures that seed of jealousy in Othello's soul until the latter is now nearly convinced and wholly distracted. He pours out his anguish to Iago in a magnificent speech.


OTHELLO
I had been happy, if the general camp,
Pioners and all, had tasted her sweet body,
So I had nothing known. O now, for ever
Farewell the tranquil mind; farewell content;
Farewell the plumed troops, and the big wars.
That makes ambition virtue. O farewell.
Farewell the neighing steed, and the shrill trump,
The spirit-stirring drum, th' ear-piercing fife,
The royal banner, and all quality,
Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war.
And o you mortal engines, whose rude throats
Th' immortal Jove's dread clamours counterfeit,
Farewell. Othello's occupation's gone.

"He Hath A Daily Beauty In His Life"

Context: Iago, ancient (or ensign) to Othello, Moorish governor of Cyprus in the service of Venice, hates him because the Moor has made Michael Cassio his lieutenant in preference to him. Iago determines to destroy not only Othello but Cassio as well. By means of brilliant machinations, evil dissimulation, and luck, he not only convinces Othello that his wife, Desdemona, is unfaithful to him with Cassio, but persuades the Moor that both must die. Cassio is to be dispatched by Iago. However, Iago is encumbered by a dupe, Roderigo, a young Venetian whom Iago has bilked of gold and jewels, falsely encouraging him in a hopeless pursuit of Desdemona, who hardly realizes he is alive. He plans to use Roderigo to ambush Cassio, then speaks to the audience of his intentions.


IAGO
I have rubbed this young quat almost to the sense,
And he grows angry. Now, whether he kill Cassio,
Or Cassio him, or each do kill the other,
Every way makes my gain. Live Roderigo,
He calls me to a restitution large
Of gold and jewels that I bobbed from him,
As gifts to Desdemona;
It must not be. If Cassio do remain,
He hath a daily beauty in his life
That makes me ugly; and besides, the Moor
May unfold me to him; there stand I in much peril.
No, he must die. . . .

"Horribly Stuffed With Epithets Of War"

Context: Iago, at the opening of the play, complains to Roderigo that Othello, his military commander, has passed over him in naming the second-in-command. Thus, Cassio ". . . must his lieutenant be,/ And I God bless the mark, his Moorship's ancient." Here are the seeds of rancor which will shortly produce Iago's devastating hatred for the Moor and his bride Desdemona. These seeds spring from the perennial competition between the enlisted man with long years of service and practical experience and the young officer commissioned after a relatively brief period of specialized training. Iago, much of his twenty-eight years spent in the military is now to be commanded by "one Michael Cassio, a Florentine," "a great arithmetician, . . . that never set a squadron in the field," one who knows nothing of the "division of a battle" except by "bookish theoric." "Mere prattle, without practice is all his soldiership." Iago's failure to receive this promotion is all the more galling because he has actively sought it; he personally had secured the good offices of various important men of the city to speak to Othello in his behalf. But to no avail, for the Moor rebuffs them, according to Iago, with the specious bombast of military rhetoric. In the remaining portion of the scene, Iago, in order to gain a measure of revenge upon Othello, persuades Roderigo to go with him to Brabantio–Desdemona's father–in an attempt to destroy the Moor's recent marriage.


IAGO
. . . Three great ones of the city,
In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,
Off-capped 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 stuffed with epithets of war,
And in conclusion,
Nonsuits my mediators. For certes, says he,
I have already chose my officer.
. . .

"How Poor Are They That Have Not Patience"

Context: Roderigo, a gentleman of Venice, sick with frustrated love of Desdemona, Othello's wife, and with hatred of the Moor, is leagued with Iago in a plot to undo Othello. Iago has to play a double role of trying to make Roderigo think that he (Iago) is interested in his petty affair when in reality Iago is after the head of the Moor. To keep up pretenses, Iago must seem to side with Othello against Roderigo. Roderigo makes a pest of himself by alternating between slight hope and bleak despair, and Iago must bolster his morale in order the better to use him. Now Roderigo is especially despondent. He has been buffeted around, his money is gone, and he fears that all he has is experience for his pains. Iago, however, again tries to talk him into more patience.


IAGO
How poor are they that have not patience.
What wound did ever heal but by degrees?
Thou know'st we work by wit, and not by witchcraft;
Though other things grow fair against the sun,
Yet fruits that blossom first will first be ripe;
. . .

"I Will Wear My Heart Upon My Sleeve"

Context: This saying, usually heard today as "he wears his heart on his sleeve," describes a person who does not or cannot hide his emotions, or is overly sentimental. In the play, Iago, ancient (or ensign) to Othello, a Moor who is a military commander in the service of Venice, is deeply envious because he was not made Othello's lieutenant. He is pouring out his grievance to Roderigo, a young Venetian gentleman who fancies himself in love with Desdemona, the bride of Othello. Roderigo tells Iago that if he hates the Moor he should not serve with him. Iago then explains that he follows Othello only to achieve his own ends, and allows his pride to expose his deviousness.


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.

"It Is The Very Error Of The Moon"

Context: Because of a plot of vengeance laid by the Machiavellian Iago, Othello, the noble Moor of Venice, smothers his new bride Desdemona, whom he believes to have been unfaithful to him with Cassio, his former friend and lieutenant. The murder, says Othello, is so horrible that one might expect even an eclipse. When Emilia, maid to Desdemona, reports another murder, Othello attributes the acts of man to the irregularity of the moon.


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
Did yawn at alteration.
. . .
[Enter EMILIA]
What's the matter with thee now?
EMILIA
O my good lord, yonder's foul murders done.
. . .
OTHELLO
It is the very error of the moon;
She comes more nearer earth than she was wont,
And makes men mad.

"Men Should Be What They Seem"

Context: lago, ancient (or ensign) to Othello, a Moorish military commander in the service of Venice, is angry at Othello for preferring Michael Cassio, a Florentine, as his lieutenant instead of himself. He determines to bring about the downfall of both the Moor and Cassio. Othello, appointed governor of Cyprus, moves his troops to the island. A storm delays their arrival but also drives off a threatening Turkish fleet, and Othello orders a general rejoicing, which Cassio is to keep within bounds. Iago gets him drunk, pricks him on to a quarrel with a henchman, arouses Othello, and has the satisfaction of seeing Cassio reduced to the ranks. Shamed, Cassio acts upon Iago's crafty suggestion that he seek the aid of Othello's wife Desdemona to regain his position. Cassio talks to Desdemona. Then, seeing Othello and Iago approaching, he, still shamefaced, steals off. Iago then insinuates to Othello that Cassio is behaving guiltily as if there were something illicit between Desdemona and Cassio. Othello shakes off the suggestion, but Iago skillfully and subtly persists.


IAGO
For Michael Cassio,
I dare be sworn, I think that he is honest.
OTHELLO
I think so too.
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.

"My Heart Is Turned To Stone"

Context: Othello, Moorish military governor of Cyprus in the service of Venice, chose Michael Cassio as his lieutenant in preference to Iago, whom he made his ancient (or ensign), a lower ranking officer. As a result, Iago determines to destroy them both. By means of clever and evil machinations and luck he convinces Othello that his bride, Desdemona, is unfaithful to him with Cassio. To clinch his case, Iago places the Moor where he overhears Cassio discussing and deriding Bianca, his mistress, but Othello believes he is talking about Desdemona. Now, thoroughly persuaded that his wife is false with Cassio, Othello is torn between hate for them both and love for her. Iago's plot is working well.


OTHELLO
I would have him nine years a-killing. A fine woman! A fair woman! A sweet woman!
IAGO
Nay, you must forget that.
OTHELLO
Ay, let her rot and perish, and be damned tonight; 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 be by an emperor's side, and command him tasks.

"Not Poppy, Nor Mandragora"

Context: Iago, ensign to the Moor of Venice, Othello, determines to take revenge against Cassio for gaining the lieutenancy, under Othello, and against the Moor for having made the appointment. He entangles Cassio in a drunken brawl and then sets out to destroy Othello's peace of mind by suggesting that Desdemona, Othello's new bride, and Cassio are more than friends. The seed of jealousy planted, Iago observes the agonizing Othello.


IAGO
. . . 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 sulphur. I did say so.
Enter OTHELLO
Look where he comes. Not poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou owedst yesterday.
OTHELLO
Ha, ha–false to me?
IAGO
Why how now general? No more of that.
OTHELLO
Avaunt, be gone! Thou hast set me on the rack.
I swear 'tis better to be much abused,
Than but to know't a little.

"O Lago, The Pity Of It"

Context: In his plot to destroy Cassio, friend and former lieutenant of Othello, and Othello himself because of Cassio's appointment by Othello to the lieutenancy that he had hoped for, Iago, the Machiavellian villain, discredits Cassio and suggests to Othello that Desdemona, his new bride, is more than a friend to Cassio. Presented with seeming proof of his wife's infidelity, Othello declares his hate and love at the same time.


OTHELLO
Ay, let her rot and perish, and be damned tonight; 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.
. . .
. . . O she will sing the savageness out of a bear–of so high and plenteous wit and invention.
IAGO
She's the worse for all this.
OTHELLO
O a thousand thousand times–and then of so gentle a condition.
IAGO
Ay, too gentle.
OTHELLO
Nay that's certain–but yet the pity of it, Iago. O Iago, the pity of it, Iago.

"One That Loved Not Wisely, But Too Well"

Context: This famous line is now usually heard as "He (or she) loves not wisely but too well" but means precisely the same as when penned by Shakespeare: to describe a love affair between obviously unsuitable partners. In the play, Othello, a Moorish military commander in the service of Venice, has been victimized by Iago, his ancient (or ensign). The latter hates the Moor because he has made Michael Cassio his lieutenant and not Iago. The ancient determines to destroy both of them. The evil Iago not only convinces Othello that his sweet bride Desdemona is unfaithful with Cassio but that she must die. Othello smothers her in her bed. No sooner does he do so than Iago's entire plot is unraveled, and the Moor realizes that he has been diabolically duped. About to be removed to Venice for trial, he tries to exculpate himself:


OTHELLO
. . . 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 Indian, threw a pearl away,
Richer than all his tribe; . . .

"Put Money In Thy Purse"

Context: Roderigo, a young gentleman of Venice, loves Desdemona, daughter of a Venetian senator. But it is hopeless because she loves her husband, Othello, a Moor in the military service of the city. Roderigo turns to his friend, Iago, for advice. Iago, Othello's ancient (or ensign) hates the Moor for not making him his lieutenant. When Roderigo speaks of drowning himself, Iago scoffs at him and advises him to employ his reason rather than be subject to his emotions. Iago stiffens Roderigo's spine and encourages him, not merely for the latter's sake, but because Iago, crafty and dissembling, intends to use Roderigo to achieve his own designs on Othello.


IAGO
. . . 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; follow thou the wars; defeat thy favour with an usurped beard. I say, put money in thy purse. It cannot be that Desdemona should long continue her love to the Moor–put money in thy purse–nor he his to her. . . .

"Put Out The Light, And Then Put Out The Light"

Context: Iago, ancient (or ensign) to Othello, a Moorish military governor of Cyprus in the service of Venice, hates him because the latter has made Michael Cassio his lieutenant in preference to him. The ancient determines to destroy both of them. By means of clever dissimulation, evil machinations, and luck, he not only convinces the gullible Othello that his young wife Desdemona is unfaithful with Cassio but that both must die. Now Othello approaches Desdemona, who is asleep in her bed, with intent to smother her.


OTHELLO
. . .
Yet she must die, else she'll betray more men.
Put out the light, and then put out the light.
If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
I can again thy former light restore,
Should I repent me. But once put out thy light,
Thou cunning'st pattern of excelling nature,
I know not where is that Promethean heat
That can thy light relume. . . .

"That Men Should Put An Enemy In Their Mouths, To Steal Away Their Brains"

Context: Cassio, lieutenant to Othello, the noble Moor of Venice, has gained the position that Iago, ensign to Othello, had hoped for. The jealous Iago plans for the removal of Cassio by involving him in some deed which will turn his just lord against him. In the merriment over the destroyed Turkish fleet, Iago succeeds in getting Cassio, who does not hold his liquor well, to drink more than he should and then to create a scandal by beating, as planned, Roderigo, and stabbing Montano. Removed from office by Othello, Cassio laments his experience with liquor:


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
Why, but you are now well enough. How come you thus recovered?
CASSIO
It hath pleased the devil drunkeness to give peace to the devil wrath; one unperfectness shows me another, to make me frankly despise myself.

"The Green-eyed Monster"

Context: Iago, evil and dissembling ancient (or ensign) to Othello, Moorish military governor of Cyprus in the service of Venice, hates him because the Moor has made Michael Cassio his lieutenant in preference to himself. Iago, who trades upon a reputation for honesty, determines to destroy both Othello and Cassio. By crafty maneuver and strokes of luck, Iago plants in Othello's mind the thought that Cassio is having an affair with Desdemona, Othello's bride. By cleverly intimating that he knows more than he reveals of this affair, he leads Othello on. The Moor impatiently desires to know Iago's thoughts. Iago pretends solicitude for Othello's sensitivities, but busily nurtures the seed of jealousy in Othello's soul.


OTHELLO
By heaven I'll know thy thoughts.
. . .
IAGO
O beware my lord of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock
The meat it feeds on. That cuckold lives in bliss,
Who certain of his fate loves not his wronger;
But o, what damned minutes tells he o'er,
Who dotes, yet doubts; suspects, yet strongly loves.

"The Robbed That Smiles, Steals Something From The Thief"

Context: Othello, a Moor and a military commander in the service of Venice, elopes with Desdemona, daughter of a Venetian senator, Brabantio. Brought before the duke by the irate father, and accused of using witchcraft to win the girl, Othello denies the charge, sends for his bride, and relates how he courted Desdemona. She comes to the duke's council chamber. Brabantio immediately puts her to a test of affection–she must choose between her husband and him. She chooses Othello. To comfort the grieving father, the duke offers sage advice.


DUKE
. . .
When remedies are past, the griefs are ended
By seeing the worst, which late on hopes depended.
To mourn a mischief that is past and gone
Is the next way to draw new mischief on.
What cannot be preserved when fortune takes,
Patience her injury a mockery makes.
The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief;
He robs himself, that spends a bootless grief.

"'Tis Pride That Pulls The Country Down"

Context: Enraged over the appointment of Cassio as lieutenant to Othello, Iago jealously sets out to blacken the name of Cassio and thus cause his removal from his preferred place. Knowing that Cassio does not hold his liquor well, Iago, under the pretense of celebrating the destruction of the Turkish fleet and with high good humor, prevails on Cassio to drink. There follows a planned brawl in which Cassio degrades himself and is removed from office. In the course of Cassio's temptation to drink, Iago sings a jolly song for the purpose of establishing the merriment of the moment:


IAGO
[Sings.]
King Stephen was and a worthy peer,
His breeches cost him but a crown,
He held them sixpence all too dear,
With that he called the tailor lown.
He was a wight of high renown,
And thou art but of low degree.
'Tis pride that pulls the country down,
Then take thine auld cloak about thee.

"To Suckle Fools, And Chronicle Small Beer"

Context: Desdemona, fair bride to Othello, the Moor of Venice, awaits the arrival of her husband on Cyprus. Iago, ensign to Othello, entertains Desdemona and Emilia, his wife, by displaying his wit in the form of couplet praise for various types of women. Desdemona asks how he would praise the woman whose virtue would disprove the proof of evil itself. He describes the lady and then concludes by saying that her role in life will be that of the mother of fools and the keeper of small household accounts (small beer).


DESDEMONA
. . . But what praise couldst thou bestow on a deserving woman indeed, one that in the authority of her merit, did justly put on the vouch of very malice itself?
IAGO
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, now I may;
. . .
She that could think, and ne'er disclose her mind,
See suitors following, and not look behind;
She was a wight, if ever such wight were–
DESDEMONA
To do what?
IAGO
To suckle fools, and chronicle small beer.

"Trifles Light As Air Are To The Jealous Confirmations"

Context: Iago, an evil and dissembling ancient (or ensign) to Othello, Moorish military governor of Cyprus in the service of Venice, hates him because the Moor has made Michael Cassio his lieutenant in preference to him. Iago determines to destroy both Othello and Cassio, and plants in Othello's mind the thought that Desdemona, Othello's bride, is having an affair with Cassio. Diabolically, Iago pretends solicitude for Othello's sensitivities, but is really nurturing the jealous seed in his soul. Desdemona comes, sees Othello distraught, and offers him her handkerchief, a special gift from Othello. He discards it, and it falls to the floor forgotten. After they leave the room, Emilia, wife of Iago, finds it, but Iago snatches it away from her. She wishes to return the handkerchief to Desdemona, but he dismisses her. He has use for it.


IAGO
. . .
I will in Cassio's lodging lose this napkin,
And let him find it. 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 sulphur. . . .

"'Twas Strange, 'twas Passing Strange"

Context: Othello, the Moor of Venice, having taken the fair Desdemona to wife, is accused by her father, Brabantio, of having won her love through spells or potions. Othello declares that he has gained Desdemona's love only by relating the whole of his adventuresome life to the fascinated girl.


OTHELLO
. . . My story being done,
She gave me for my pains a world of sighs.
She swore, in faith 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange,
'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful.
She wished she had not 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,
I 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. . . .

"Unvarnished Tale"

Context: This saying means the bare, unelaborated facts of a matter–"the unvarnished truth." The original from which it is derived, however, does not convey such a stark image, but includes some truthful elaboration or interpretation. In the play, Desdemona, daughter of Brabantio, a Venetian senator, elopes with Othello, Moorish military commander in the service of Venice. Her father, aroused in the dead of night and informed of the hasty marriage, is incensed. He gathers some armed followers and starts to search out Othello. The latter, independently summoned by the duke on an affair of state, encounters the irate father and accompanies him and his followers to the council chamber where the duke is holding a late session. Othello is accused by Brabantio of bewitching his daughter, and stealing her. Witchcraft would be necessary, says he, "for nature so preposterously to err." Called upon to speak, Othello denies the charge of witchcraft, admits to the marriage, and asks pardon for his rude speech. He continues:


OTHELO
. . .
Yet, by your gracious patience,
I will a round unvarnished tale deliver
Of my whole course of love, what drugs, what charms
What conjuration, and what mighty magic–
For such proceeding I am charged withal–
I won his daughter.

"We Cannot All Be Masters"

Context: Iago, ancient (or ensign) to Othello, a Moor in the military service of Venice, is angry and envious because he was not made Othello's lieutenant. He is pouring out his wrath to Roderigo, a young gentleman of Venice, who fancies himself in love with Desdemona, bride of Othello. Roderigo suggests that if Iago is so disgruntled, he should not sign on with Othello, to which suggestion Iago replies:


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 visages of duty,
Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves;
. . .
These fellows have some soul,
And such a one do I profess myself.
. . .

"Who Steals My Purse Steals Trash"

Context: Iago, evil and dissembling ancient (or ensign) to Othello, a Moorish military governor of Cyprus in the service of Venice, hates him because the Moor has made Michael Cassio his lieutenant in preference to himself. Iago, who has a reputation for honesty, determines to destroy both Othello and Cassio. By crafty maneuvers and luck, Iago plants in Othello's mind the thought that Cassio is having an affair with Othello's wife, Desdemona. Iago intimates that he knows more of this affair than he admits, a device calculated to lead Othello on. Othello impatiently desires to know Iago's thoughts, but Iago exquisitely stretches him upon the rack of doubt.


IAGO
. . .
It were not for your quiet nor your good,
Nor for my manhood, honesty, or wisdom,
To let you know my thoughts.
OTHELLO
What dost thou mean?
IAGO
Good name in man, and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing; 2
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.
OTHELLO
By heaven I'll know thy thoughts.