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Selection 1: Iago and Roderigo (from Act I Scene III)

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The selection below ends Act I Scene III.

"Roderigo is ready to drown himself for he sees no hope in winning the hand of Desdemona. Iago, however, needs Roderigo for his scheme, so he challenges Roderigo to be a man and hang in there. Desdemona and Othello will tire of one another, Iago predicts and asks Roderigo to stay with him so they can both enjoy their revenge on Othello.

"After Roderigo leaves, Iago talks to himself (in aside to the audience), relating how he thinks Roderigo a fool. He also reiterates how he hates Othello. Iago has heard rumors that Othello has slept with his wife, Emilia. This gives Iago all the more reason to hurt Othello. He will make Othello believe that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio. Iago believes this will be easy to do because 'The Moor is of a free and open nature, That thinks men honest that but seem to be so, / And will as tenderly be led by th' nose / As asses are.'" 1

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RODERIGO.

Iago,–

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IAGO.

What say'st thou, noble heart?

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RODERIGO.

What will I do, thinkest thou?

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IAGO.

Why, go to bed and sleep.

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RODERIGO.

I will incontinently drown myself.

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IAGO.

If thou dost, I shall never love thee after. Why, thou silly
gentleman!

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RODERIGO.

It is silliness to live when to live is torment; and then
have we a prescription to die when death is our physician.

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IAGO.

O villainous! I have looked upon the world for four times seven
years, and since I could distinguish betwixt a benefit and an
injury, I never found man that knew how to love himself. Ere I
would say I would drown myself for the love of a Guinea-hen, I
would change my humanity with a baboon.

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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.

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IAGO.

Virtue! a fig! 'Tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus.
Our bodies are 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 preposterous conclusions:
But we have reason to cool our raging motions, our carnal stings,
our unbitted lusts; whereof I take this, that you call love, to
be a sect or scion.

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RODERIGO.

It cannot be.

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IAGO.

It is merely a lust of the blood and a permission of the will.
Come, be a man: drown thyself! 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; 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: it was a violent commencement, and thou shalt see an
answerable sequestration;–put but money in thy purse.–These
Moors are changeable in their wills:–fill thy purse with money:
the food that to him now is as luscious as locusts shall be to
him shortly as acerb as the coloquintida. She must change for
youth: when she is sated with his body, she will find the error
of her choice: she must have change, she must: therefore put
money in thy purse.–If thou wilt needs damn thyself, do it a
more delicate way than drowning. Make all the money thou canst;
if sanctimony and a frail vow betwixt an erring barbarian and a
supersubtle Venetian be not too hard for my wits and all the
tribe of hell, thou shalt enjoy her; therefore make money. A pox
of drowning thyself! it is clean out of the way: seek thou rather
to be hanged in compassing thy joy than to be drowned and go
without her.

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RODERIGO.

Wilt thou be fast to my hopes, if I depend on the issue?

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IAGO.

Thou art sure of me:–go, make money:–I have told thee
often, and I re-tell thee again and again, I hate the Moor: my
cause is hearted; thine hath no less reason. Let us be
conjunctive in our revenge against him: if thou canst cuckold
him, thou dost thyself a pleasure, me a sport. There are many
events in the womb of time which will be delivered. Traverse; go;
provide thy money. We will have more of this to-morrow. Adieu.

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RODERIGO.

Where shall we meet i' the morning?

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IAGO.

At my lodging.

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RODERIGO.

I'll be with thee betimes.

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IAGO.

Go to; farewell. Do you hear, Roderigo?

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RODERIGO.

What say you?

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IAGO.

No more of drowning, do you hear?

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RODERIGO.

I am changed: I'll go sell all my land.

[Exit.]

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IAGO.

Thus do I ever make my fool my purse;
For I mine own gain'd knowledge should profane
If I would time expend with such a snipe
But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor;
And it is thought abroad that 'twixt my sheets
He has done my office: I know not if't be true;
But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,
Will do as if for surety. He holds me well,
The better shall my purpose work on him.
Cassio's a proper man: let me see now;
To get his place, and to plume up my will
In double knavery,–How, how?–Let's see:–
After some time, to abuse Othello's ear
That he is too familiar with his wife:–
He hath a person, and a smooth dispose,
To be suspected; fram'd to make women false.
The Moor is of a free and open nature,
That thinks men honest that but seem to be so;
And will as tenderly be led by the nose
As asses are.
I have't;–it is engender'd:–hell and night
Must bring this monstrous birth to the world's light.

[Exit.]

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References

  1. "Othello." Shakespeare for Students: Critical Interpretations of Shakespeare's Plays and Poetry. Ed. Anne Marie Hacht. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 2007. 649-687. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 14 July 2011.

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