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Othello

Othello Translation Act 3, Scene 4

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Enter DESDEMONA, EMILIA, and CLOWN

DESDEMONA

Do you know, sirrah, where Lieutenant Cassio lies?

DESDEMONA

Do you know where Lieutenant Cassio lies?

CLOWN

I dare not say he lies anywhere.

CLOWN

I daresay he doesn't lie anywhere.

DESDEMONA

Why, man?

DESDEMONA

Why?

CLOWN

He’s a soldier, and for one to say a soldier lies, ’tis stabbing.

CLOWN

He's a soldier, and to accuse a soldier of lying is as bad as stabbing him.

DESDEMONA

Go to. Where lodges he?

DESDEMONA

Oh, come on. I mean where does he sleep?

CLOWN

To tell you where he lodges is to tell you where I lie.

CLOWN

To tell you where he sleeps would be to tell you where I lie.

DESDEMONA

Can anything be made of this?

DESDEMONA

That doesn't make any sense. 

CLOWN

I know not where he lodges, and for me to devise a lodging and say he lies here, or he lies there, were to lie in mine own throat.

CLOWN

I don't know where he sleeps, so for me to say that he sleeps somewhere would be lying.

DESDEMONA

Can you inquire him out and be edified by report?

DESDEMONA

Can you ask around and find out?

CLOWN

I will catechize the world for him, that is, make questions, and by them answer.

CLOWN

I will interrogate all the world about him, and make everyone answer my questions.

DESDEMONA

Seek him, bid him come hither. Tell him I have moved mylord on his behalf, and hope all will be well.

DESDEMONA

Find him and tell him to come to me. Tell him I have persuaded my husband on his behalf, and I hope that everything will be resolved.

CLOWN

To do this is within the compass of man’s wit, and therefore I will attempt the doing it.

CLOWN

To do that is within the scope of a man's ability. And therefore I'll give it a try.

Exit

DESDEMONA

Where should I lose that handkerchief, Emilia?

DESDEMONA

Where could I have lost that handkerchief, Emilia?

EMILIA

I know not, madam.

EMILIA

I don't know, madam.

DESDEMONA

Believe me, I had rather have lost my purse Full of crusadoes. And but my noble Moor Is true of mind and made of no such baseness As jealous creatures are, it were enough To put him to ill thinking.

DESDEMONA

Believe me, I would rather have lost my purse full of coins. Losing my handkerchief would be enough to make my husband jealous, if he were less loyal and more of a jealous man.

EMILIA

Is he not jealous?

EMILIA

Is he not a jealous man?

DESDEMONA

Who, he? I think the sun where he was bornDrew all such humors from him.

DESDEMONA

Who, Othello? I think he got so much sunlight where he was born that it burned the jealousy out of him.

EMILIA

Look where he comes.

EMILIA

Look, he's coming here.

Enter OTHELLO

DESDEMONA

I will not leave him now till CassioBe called to him.—How is ’t with you, my lord?

DESDEMONA

I won't stop bothering him now until he reinstates Cassio. 

[To OTHELLO] How are you doing, my husband?

OTHELLO

Well, my good lady.— [aside] Oh, hardness to dissemble!—How do you, Desdemona?

OTHELLO

I'm doing well, my good lady. 

[To himself] Oh, it's so hard to pretend I'm fine! 

[To DESDEMONA] How are you, Desdemona?

DESDEMONA

Well, my good lord.

DESDEMONA

Well, my good husband.

OTHELLO

Give me your hand. This hand is moist, my lady.

OTHELLO

Give me your hand. It's moist, my lady.

DESDEMONA

It hath felt no age nor known no sorrow.

DESDEMONA

Yes, because I am young and haven't experienced any 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.

OTHELLO

Warm and moist skin means that you are fertile and have a generous heart. This hand of yours suggests that you need to be secluded, to fast and to pray. You need some discipline, for someone with these kinds of sweating hands commonly rebels against authority. It's a good hand, an open one.

DESDEMONA

You may indeed say so,For ’twas that hand that gave away my heart.

DESDEMONA

You could say that, for it was that hand that gave you my heart.

OTHELLO

A liberal hand. The hearts of old gave hands, But our new heraldry is hands, not hearts.

OTHELLO

A giving hand. It used to be that people's hearts controlled whether they gave someone their hand in marriage. But now people give away their hands without consulting their hearts.

DESDEMONA

I cannot speak of this. Come now, your promise.

DESDEMONA

I can't speak to that. Now come on, remember your promise.

OTHELLO

What promise, chuck?

OTHELLO

What promise, dear?

DESDEMONA

I have sent to bid Cassio come speak with you.

DESDEMONA

I have sent someone to tell Cassio to come speak to you.

OTHELLO

I have a salt and sorry rheum offends me.Lend me thy handkerchief.

OTHELLO

I have a cold and a runny nose. Lend me your handkerchief.

DESDEMONA

Here, my lord.

DESDEMONA

Here, my lord.

OTHELLO

That which I gave you.

OTHELLO

No, give me the one I gave to you.

DESDEMONA

I have it not about me.

DESDEMONA

I don't have it with me.

OTHELLO

Not?

OTHELLO

You don't?

DESDEMONA

No, indeed, my lord.

DESDEMONA

No, my lord.

OTHELLO

That’s a fault. That handkerchief Did an Egyptian to my mother give, She was a charmer and could almost read The thoughts of people. She told her, while she kept it 'Twould make her amiable and subdue my father Entirely to her love, but if she lost it Or made gift of it, my father’s eye Should hold her loathèd and his spirits should hunt After new fancies. She, dying, gave it me And bid me, when my fate would have me wived, To give it her. I did so, and take heed on ’t, Make it a darling like your precious eye. To lose ’t or give ’t away were such perdition As nothing else could match.

OTHELLO

That's not good. My mother was given that handkerchief by an Egyptian woman who could read people's minds. She told my mother that as long as she had the handkerchief, she would be desirable and my father would be helplessly in love with her, but if she lost it or gave it away, my father would hate her and he would go after other women. Before my mother died, she gave the handkerchief to me and told me to give it to my wife whenever I married. I did this, and so keep it close like a precious treasure. To lose that handkerchief or give it away would be a sin greater than any other.

DESDEMONA

Is ’t possible?

DESDEMONA

Is this true?

OTHELLO

'Tis true. There’s magic in the web of it. A sibyl, that had numbered in the world The sun to course two hundred compasses, In her prophetic fury sewed the work. The worms were hallowed that did breed the silk, And it was dyed in mummy which the skillful Conserved of maidens' hearts.

OTHELLO

It is true. There's magic in the sewing. A prophetess who lived to the age of two hundred sewed the handkerchief while she was in a trance. The worms that made the silk were magical, and it was tinted in dye extracted from embalmed virgins' hearts.

DESDEMONA

Indeed? Is ’t true?

DESDEMONA

Really? Is this true?

OTHELLO

Most veritable, therefore look to ’t well.

OTHELLO

Absolutely, so look after that handkerchief carefully.

DESDEMONA

Then would to Heaven that I had never seen ’t!

DESDEMONA

God, I wish I'd never seen it!

OTHELLO

Ha! Wherefore?

OTHELLO

Aha! Why do you wish that?

DESDEMONA

Why do you speak so startingly and rash?

DESDEMONA

Why are you talking in fits in starts—and so impulsively, too?

OTHELLO

Is ’t lost? Is ’t gone? Speak, is ’t out o' th' way?

OTHELLO

Is the handkerchief lost? Is it gone? Tell me, have you lost it?

DESDEMONA

Bless us!

DESDEMONA

God help me.

OTHELLO

Say you?

OTHELLO

What do you say?

DESDEMONA

It is not lost, but what and if it were?

DESDEMONA

It isn't lost, but what if it were?

OTHELLO

How!

OTHELLO

What?

DESDEMONA

I say, it is not lost.

DESDEMONA

I'm telling you, it's not lost.

OTHELLO

Fetch ’t, let me see ’t.

OTHELLO

Go get it, then. Let me see it.

DESDEMONA

Why, so I can, sir, but I will not now. This is a trick to put me from my suit. Pray you, let Cassio be received again.

DESDEMONA

Well, sir, I could do that, but I won't right now. You're trying to trick me so I forget about persuading you regarding Cassio. Please, let Cassio be your lieutenant again.

OTHELLO

Fetch me the handkerchief—my mind misgives.

OTHELLO

Bring me the handkerchief. I am worried.

DESDEMONA

Come, come,You’ll never meet a more sufficient man.

DESDEMONA

Come on. You'll never find a better man for the job than Cassio.

OTHELLO

The handkerchief!

OTHELLO

The handkerchief!

DESDEMONA

A man that all his timeHath founded his good fortunes on your love,Shared dangers with you—

DESDEMONA

Cassio has always had good fortune because of your love for him. He and you have faced dangers together.

OTHELLO

The handkerchief!

OTHELLO

The handkerchief!

DESDEMONA

In sooth, you are to blame.

DESDEMONA

To tell the truth, it's all your fault.

OTHELLO

Zounds!

OTHELLO

Christ!

Exit

EMILIA

Is not this man jealous?

EMILIA

Doesn't that look like a jealous man?

DESDEMONA

I ne'er saw this before.Sure, there’s some wonder in this handkerchief,I am most unhappy in the loss of it.

DESDEMONA

I've never seen him like this. There really must be some magic in that handkerchief. I am really sad and unlucky that I lost it. 

EMILIA

'Tis not a year or two shows us a man. They are all but stomachs, and we all but food. To eat us hungerly, and when they are full, They belch us. Look you, Cassio and my husband!

EMILIA

It takes just a year or two for a man's true colors to become apparent. They're nothing but hungry stomachs, and we women are the food. All they want is to get their fill of us, and when they've had enough they throw us back up. Look, here comes Cassio and my husband.

Enter CASSIO and IAGO

IAGO

There is no other way. 'Tis she must do ’t,And, lo, the happiness! Go and importune her.

IAGO

There's no other way. She must be the one to do it. And what luck, here she is! Go and ask her.

DESDEMONA

How now, good Cassio, what’s the news with you?

DESDEMONA

How are you, Cassio? What's going on with you?

CASSIO

Madam, my former suit. I do beseech you That by your virtuous means I may again Exist, and be a member of his love Whom I, with all the office of my heart Entirely honor. I would not be delayed. If my offence be of such mortal kind That nor my service past, nor present sorrows, Nor purposed merit in futurity, Can ransom me into his love again, But to know so must be my benefit. So shall I clothe me in a forced content, And shut myself up in some other course, To fortune’s alms.

CASSIO

Madam, only my case from before. I beg you to use your virtuous powers to help me return to the good graces of Othello, whom I honor with all of my heart. I want this to happen quickly. If my offense was so bad that neither my past service nor my present regret, nor the future good deeds I promise can buy back his love, then I at least would like to know this now. If that is the case then I will pretend to be content, and settle on a new career to try my fortunes there.

DESDEMONA

Alas, thrice-gentle Cassio, My advocation is not now in tune. My lord is not my lord, nor should I know him Were he in favor as in humor altered. So help me every spirit sanctified As I have spoken for you all my best And stood within the blank of his displeasure For my free speech. You must awhile be patient. What I can do I will, and more I will Than for myself I dare. Let that suffice you.

DESDEMONA

Alas, dearest Cassio, my pleading on your behalf isn't working right now. My husband is not acting like himself. If his physical appearance were as transformed as his inner character is now, I wouldn't even recognize him. So help me God, I have spoken up for you as best I could and he has looked down on me because of it. You must be patient for a while. I will do what I can, and I will even do more than I would dare do for myself. Let that be enough for you.

IAGO

Is my lord angry?

IAGO

Is Othello angry?

EMILIA

He went hence but now,And certainly in strange unquietness.

EMILIA

He was just here, and he is certainly strangely bothered.

IAGO

Can he be angry? I have seen the cannon When it hath blown his ranks into the air And, like the devil, from his very arm Puffed his own brother— and is he angry? Something of moment then, I will go meet him. There’s matter in ’t indeed, if he be angry.

IAGO

Can he be angry? I have seen him remain calm when a cannon has blown his soldiers into the air and, like the devil, blown his own brother out of his arms. And now he's angry? It must be about a serious matter. I will go see him. If he's angry, it must really be something significant.

DESDEMONA

I prithee, do so.

DESDEMONA

Please do go see him.

Exit IAGO

Something, sure, of state, Either from Venice, or some unhatched practice Made demonstrable here in Cyprus to him, Hath puddled his clear spirit, and in such cases Men’s natures wrangle with inferior things, Though great ones are their object. 'Tis even so, For let our finger ache and it endues Our other healthful members even to that sense Of pain. Nay, we must think men are not gods, Nor of them look for such observances As fit the bridal. Beshrew me much, Emilia, I was, unhandsome warrior as I am, Arraigning his unkindness with my soul, But now I find I had suborned the witness, And he’s indicted falsely.

It must be something government-related—either having to do with Venice or some secret thing that's now come to light in Cyprus—that has put him in this mood. When this happens, men take out their tempers on less important things, when they're really upset with bigger issues. That's what happens when we hurt our finger, and it makes other parts of our bodies seem to hurt. No, we shouldn't idolize men, or expect them to always be as nice as they are on their wedding day. Oh, Emilia, curse me: I'm so foolish that I thought Othello was being unkind, but I was clearly falsely accusing him.

EMILIA

Pray heaven it beState matters, as you think, and no conceptionNor no jealous toy concerning you.

EMILIA

I pray to heaven that he is upset over some government matter, as you think is the case, and not over some jealous idea about you.

DESDEMONA

Alas the day! I never gave him cause.

DESDEMONA

God forbid! I've given him no reason to be jealous.

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.

EMILIA

But jealous souls need no evidence. They aren't jealous because of a reason, but merely because they are jealous people. Jealousy is a monster that gives birth to itself.

DESDEMONA

Heaven keep the monster from Othello’s mind!

DESDEMONA

May heaven keep that monster away from Othello's mind!

EMILIA

Lady, amen.

EMILIA

Amen, my lady.

DESDEMONA

I will go seek him.—Cassio, walk hereabout. If I do find him fit, I’ll move your suit And seek to effect it to my uttermost.

DESDEMONA

I will go find him. Cassio, stay around here. If I find him in a good mood, I'll plead your case and try my hardest to get you your job back.

CASSIO

I humbly thank your ladyship.

CASSIO

My lady, I humbly thank you.

Exeunt DESDEMONA and EMILIA

Enter BIANCA

BIANCA

Save you, friend Cassio!

BIANCA

Hello, my friend Cassio!

CASSIO

What make you from home? How is ’t with you, my most fair Bianca?Indeed, sweet love, I was coming to your house.

CASSIO

What are you doing away from home? How are you, my most beautiful Bianca? I was actually just on my way to your house, my sweet love.

BIANCA

And I was going to your lodging, Cassio. What, keep a week away? Seven days and nights? Eight score eight hours? And lovers' absent hours More tedious than the dial eightscore times! Oh weary reckoning!

BIANCA

And I was on my way to yours, Cassio. Why have you been away for a week? Seven days and nights? One hundred and sixty-eight hours? And hours that lovers spend apart pass eight times more slowly than normal. How tiresome to count the hours going by!

CASSIO

Pardon me, Bianca, I have this while with leaden thoughts been pressed, But I shall, in a more continuate time, Strike off this score of absence. Sweet Bianca, (giving her DESDEMONA’s handkerchief) Take me this work out.

CASSIO

Pardon me, Bianca. I've been busy with heavy thoughts. But, when I have some time, I will make up for being away for so long. Sweet Bianca, copy out the pattern on this. [He gives her DESDEMONA's handkerchief]

BIANCA

O Cassio, whence came this? This is some token from a newer friend! To the felt absence now I feel a cause. Is ’t come to this? Well, well.

BIANCA

Oh, Cassio, where did you get this from? This is some gift from another woman! Now I see why you haven't come to see me. Has it come to this? Well, well, well.

CASSIO

Go to, woman, Throw your vile guesses in the devil’s teeth From whence you have them. You are jealous now That this is from some mistress, some remembrance. No, in good troth, Bianca.

CASSIO

Oh please, woman. Throw your vile guesses back to hell, where they came from. You are jealous now and think that this handkerchief is from some mistress. No, in truth, it isn't, Bianca.

BIANCA

Why, whose is it?

BIANCA

Whose is it, then?

CASSIO

I know not neither, I found it in my chamber. I like the work well. Ere it be demanded, As like enough it will, I would have it copied. Take it and do ’t, and leave me for this time.

CASSIO

I don't know. I found it in my bedroom, and I like the pattern on it. Before someone asks for it back, I want to have the pattern copied. Take it and do it, and leave me alone for a bit.

BIANCA

Leave you! Wherefore?

BIANCA

Leave you! Why?

CASSIO

I do attend here on the generalAnd think it no addition, nor my wish,To have him see me womaned.

CASSIO

I am waiting on the general here, and I don't think it would be very good for him to see me with a woman.

BIANCA

Why, I pray you?

BIANCA

Why?

CASSIO

Not that I love you not.

CASSIO

It's not that I don't love you.

BIANCA

But that you do not love me.I pray you bring me on the way a littleAnd say if I shall see you soon at night.

BIANCA

But that you don't love me. Please come with me just a little ways, and tell me if I will see you soon at night.

CASSIO

'Tis but a little way that I can bring you, For I attend here. But I’ll see you soon.

CASSIO

I can't go with you very far, for I must wait here. But I will see you soon.

BIANCA

'Tis very good. I must be circumstanced.

BIANCA

That's good enough. I have to take what I can get given the circumstances.

Exeunt

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Ben florman
About the Translator: Ben Florman

Ben is a co-founder of LitCharts. He holds a BA in English Literature from Harvard University, where as an undergraduate he won the Winthrop Sargent prize for best undergraduate paper on a topic related to Shakespeare.