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Iago. Kind gentlemen, let's go see poor Cassio


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Come, mistress, you must tell 's another tale.
Emilia, run you to the citadel,

And tell my lord and lady what hath happ'd.—
Will you go on, I pray?— [Aside.] This is the

That either makes me, or fordoes me quite.10


SCENE II. A Bed-chamber.

DESDEMONA in Bed asleep. A Light burning.
Enter OTHEllo.

Oth. It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul,
Let me not name it to you, you chaste stars!1
It is the cause. — Yet I'll not shed her blood;
Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow,
And smooth as monumental alabaster.

[Takes off his sword. Yet she must die, else she'll betray more men. Put out the light, and then- Put out the light! 2

10 To fordo is to undo, to ruin, to destroy.

1 Steevens informs us there is "no classical authority" for "chaste stars." Very likely; but then Othello has "authority" as good, perhaps, as "classical," in the supposed unchastity of his wife, which is "the cause" of his present purpose, and which the purity of the stars withholds him from naming in their presence. No classical authority!


2 The present regulation of this passage, by which so much beauty and spirit is added to it, was proposed by Mr. Upton, but it is to be found in Ayres's Life of Pope; it may therefore have originated with Warburton, who thus explains it: "The meaning is, I will put out the light, and then proceed to the execution of my purpose. But the expression of putting out the light bringing to mind the effects of the extinction of the light of life, he breaks short, and questions himself about the effects of this metaphorical

If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
I can again thy former light restore,
Should I repent me; but once put out thy light,3
Thou cunning'st pattern of excelling nature,
I know not where is that Promethean heat,
When I have pluck'd

That can thy light relume.
thy rose,

I cannot give it vital growth again;
It needs must wither:-

`, balmy breath, that dost almost persuade istice to break her sword!-One more, one

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I'll smell it on the tree.


Be thus when thou art dead, and I will kill thee, And love thee after. — One more, and this the last : So sweet was ne'er so fatal. I must weep,

But they are cruel tears: this sorrow's heavenly; It strikes, where it doth love. She wakes,

Des. Who's there? Othello?


Ay, Desdemona. Des. Will you come to bed, my lord? Oth. Have you pray'd to-night, Desdemona ? Des. Ay, my lord. Oth. If you bethink yourself of any crime Unreconcil'd as yet to Heaven and grace, Solicit for it straight.

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[Kissing her.

extinction, introduced by a repetition of his first words, as much as to say, But hold, let me first weigh the reflection which this expression naturally excites." Dr. Farmer treats this as a refinement of Warburton's, observing that to put out the light was a phrase for to kill. Broken sentences," says Mr. Boswell, "are very much in our Poet's manner, and are surely natural in the perturbed state of Othello's mind. I am unwilling to persuade myself that a regulation of the text which contains so much beauty could be merely the refinement of a critic, and that our great author, in one of his most highly-wrought scenes, instead of it, intended nothing but a cold conceit."

3 Thus the folio; the quartos, "but once put out thine." H.

Des. Alas, my lord! what may you mean by that? Oth. Well, do it, and be brief; I will walk by: I would not kill thy unprepared spirit; No, Heaven forefend!

I would not kill thy


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Des. Talk you of killing?

Oth. Ay, I do.

Des. Then, Heaven have mercy on me!

Oth. Amen, with all my heart!

Des. If you say so, I hope you will not kill me.
Oth. Humph!

Des. And yet I fear you; for you're fatal then, When your eyes roll so: Why I should fear I know not,

Since guiltiness I know not; but yet I feel I fear.
Oth. Think on thy sins.
Oth. Ay, and for that thou diest.
Des. That death's unnatural, that kills for lov-

They are loves I bear to you.


Alas! why gnaw you so your nether lip?
Some bloody passion shakes your very frame:
These are portents; but yet, I hope, I hope
They do not point on me.


Peace, and be still!
What's the matter?

Des. I will so.
Oth. That handkerchief, which I so lov'd, and

gave thee,

Thou gav'st to Cassio.

Send for the man, and ask him.


Sweet soul, take heed, Take heed of perjury; thou art on thy death-bed. Des. Ay, but not yet to die. Oth.

Yes, presently:

No, by my life and soul !

Therefore confess thee freely of thy sin;
For to deny each article with oath,

Cannot remove, nor choke, the strong conception,
That I do groan withal. Thou art to die.
Des. Then, Lord, have mercy on me!

I say, amen.
Des. And have you mercy too! - I never did
Offend you in my life; never lov'd Cassio,
But with such general warranty of Heaven
As I might love: I never gave him token.

Oth. By Heaven, I saw my handkerchief in's hand!

O, perjur'd woman! thou dost stone my heart,
And mak'st me call what I intend to do
A murder, which I thought a sacrifice:*
I saw the handkerchief.


I never gave it him.
Let him confess a truth.

He found it, then;
-Send for him hither;

Des. What, my lord?
Oth. That he hath

Oth. Ay.

Des. He will not say so. Oth. No, his mouth is stopp'd; Honest Iago hath ta'en order for't.

He hath confess'd.

us'd thee.

How? unlawfully?

4 Some editors have managed to stumble at this passage. The language is indeed compressed, but the meaning seems clear enough. Othello goes about the killing of his wife as an act of religion, and he fears lest her perjury may excite his anger, and so corrupt the deed into an act of revenge. This is Johnson's explanation: "Thou hardenest my heart, and makest me kill thee with the rage of a murderer, when I thought to have sacrificed thee to justice with the calmness of a priest striking a victim."-The quarto of 1622 reads, "thou dost stone thy heart."


Des. My fear interprets, then.— What! is he


Oth. Had all his hairs been lives, my great re


Had stomach for them all.

Des. Alas! he is betray'd, and I undone.
Oth. Out, strumpet! Weep'st thou for him to
my face?

Des. O! banish me, my lord, but kill me not.
Oth. Down, strumpet !

Des. Kill me to-morrow; let me live to-night.
Oth. Nay, if you strive,


There is no pause.5

But half an hour.
Being done,

Des. But while I say one prayer. Oth. It is too late." [He smothers her. Emil. [Within.] My lord, my lord! what ho! my lord, my lord!

Not dead? not yet

Oth. What noise is this?. quite dead?

I, that am cruel, am yet merciful;

I would not have thee linger in thy pain.
So, so."

5 This speech is not in the first quarto. · Othello regards the act as done, when the conflict between his love and honour is fully over, his resolution finally taken, and his hand raised to strike. To admit any pause in such a case, were but to prolong the suffering of the victim.


6 After this speech of Othello, the elder quarto adds an invocation from Desdemona, consisting only of the sacred name thrice repeated.

7 At these words, the Othello of the stage is made to stab Desdemona. There is no such direction in any of the old copies; but still the stage-custom may be right; as, in the agony of the moment, and in his desire "not to have her linger in her pain," Othello's resolution not to shed her blood might be overcome. It seems more natural, too, that Desdemona should speak after being stabbed, than after being smothered to death.


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