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VARIOUS TEXTS: OTHELLO, Act 1, Scene 1

Act 1, Scene 1

Enter RODMERIGO 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’ll 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-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.”
And what was he?
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
Is 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 belee’d and calmed
By debitor and creditor. This counter-caster
in good ti must his lieutenant be
And I, bless the mark, his Moorship’s ancient.

[*Und ich, von dem sein Auge Proben sah
Zu Rhodus, Zypern und auf anderm Boden,
Christlich und heidnisch, komm um Wind und Flut
Durch solchen Rechenknecht, solch Einmaleins.]

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 th' first. *Now sir, be judge yourself,
Whether I in any just term am affined
To love the Moor.

[*Urteilt nun selbst,
ob mich wohl irgend Recht und Dank verpflichtet,
den Mohrn zu lieben.]

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 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
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.
[*In Haltung und Gebärde, dann alsbald
Will ich mein Herz an meinem Ärmel tragen
Als Fraß für Krähn. Ich bin nicht, was ich bin!]

RODERIGO
What a full fortune does the Thick-lips* owe
If he can carry’t thus!

[*der Dickgelippte, Anspielung auf den dunklen Mohr]

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 color.

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!
Look to your house, your daughter, and your bags!
Thieves! thieves!

Enter BRABANTIO, above

BRABANTIO
What is the reason of this terrible summons?
What is the matter there?

RODERIGO
Signior, is all your family within?

IAGO
Are your doors locked?

BRABANTIO
Why, wherefore ask you this?

IAGO
Zounds, sir, you’re robbed! For shame, put on your gown.
Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul.
*Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise,
Awake the snorting citizens with the bell
Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you.
Arise, I say!

[*Jetzt, eben jetzt bespringt ein alter schwarzer
Schafbock (Anspielung auf den dunklen Othello) Eur weißes Lämmchen.]

BRABANTIO
What, have you lost your wits?

RODERIGO
Most reverend signior, do you know my voice?

BRABANTIO
Not I. What are you?

RODERIGO
My name is Roderigo.

BRABANTIO
The worser welcome.
I have charged thee not to haunt about my doors.
In honest plainness thou hast heard me say
My daughter is not for thee. *And now in madness,
Being full of supper and distempering drafts,
Upon malicious knavery dost thou come
To start my quiet?

[*und nun, wie rasend,
Vom Mahle voll und scharfem Trunk erregt,
In böswilligem Übermute kommst du,
Mich in der Ruh zu stören?]

RODERIGO
Sir, sir, sir—

BRABANTIO
But thou must needs be sure
My spirits and my place have in their power
To make this bitter to thee.

RODERIGO
Patience, good sir.

BRABANTIO
What tell’st thou me of robbing? This is Venice,
My house is not a grange.

RODERIGO
Most grave Brabantio,
In simple and pure soul I come to you—

IAGO
Zounds, sir, you are one of those that
will not serve God, if the devil bid you. Because
we come to do you service and you think we are
ruffians, you’ll have your daughter covered with
a Barbary horse. You’ll have your nephews neigh
to you. *You’ll have coursers for cousins and
gennets for germans.

[*Ihr wollt Enkel, die Euch anwiehern, wollt Rennpferde zu Vettern und Zelter zu Neffen haben?]

BRABANTIO
What profane wretch art thou?

IAGO
I am one, sir, that comes to tell you
your daughter and the Moor are now making
the beast with two backs.

BRABANTIO
Thou art a villain!

IAGO
You are a senator!

BRABANTIO
This thou shalt answer. I know thee, Roderigo.

RODERIGO
Sir, I will answer any thing. But, I beseech you,
If’t be your pleasure and most wise consent
As partly I find it is *that your fair daughter
At this odd-even and dull watch o' th' night
Transported with no worse nor better guard
But with a knave of common hire, a gondolier,
To the gross clasps of a lascivious Moor,
If this be known to you and your allowance,
We then have done you bold and saucy wrongs.
But if you know not this my manners tell me
We have your wrong rebuke. Do not believe
That, from the sense of all civility,
I thus would play and trifle with your reverence.
Your daughter if you have not given her leave
I say again, hath made a gross revolt,
Tying her duty, beauty, wit, and fortunes
In an extravagant and wheeling stranger
Of here and everywhere. Straight satisfy yourself.
If she be in her chamber or your house,
Let loose on me the justice of the state
For thus deluding you.

[*daß Eure schöne Tochter
In dieser späten Stunde dumpfer Nacht
Wird ausgeliefert - besser nicht noch schlechter
Bewacht, als durch 'nen feilen Gondolier -
Den rohen Küssen eines lüsternen Mohren?]

BRABANTIO
*Strike on the tinder, ho!
Give me a taper, call up all my people!
This accident is not unlike my dream,
Belief of it oppresses me already.
Light, I say, light!

[*Schlagt Feuer, ho!
Gebt mir 'ne Kerze! Weckt alle meine Leute!] -

Exit above

IAGO
(to RODERIGO)
Farewell, for I must leave you.
It seems not meet, nor wholesome to my place,
To be producted as, if I stay, I shall
Against the Moor. For I do know the state
However this may gall him with some check
Cannot with safety cast him, for he’s embarked
With such loud reason to the Cyprus wars
Which even now stand in act that, for their souls,
Another of his fathom they have none
To lead their business. *In which regard,
Though I do hate him as I do hell pains,
Yet for necessity of present life
I must show out a flag and sign of love,
Which is indeed but sign. That you shall surely find him,
Lead to the Sagittary the raisèd search,
And there will I be with him. So farewell.

[*In dieser Rücksicht,
Obgleich ich ihn wie Höllenqualen hasse,
Weil mich die gegenwärtge Lage zwingt,
Muß ich aufziehn der Liebe Flagg und Zeichen,
Freilich als Zeichen nur.]

Exit
Enter BRABANTIO, with servants and torches

BRABANTIO
It is too true an evil. Gone she is.
And what’s to come of my despisèd time
Is naught but bitterness. Now, Roderigo,
Where didst thou see her?—Oh, unhappy girl!—
With the Moor, say’st thou?—Who would be a father?—
How didst thou know ’twas she?—Oh, she deceives me
Past thought!—What said she to you?—Get more tapers,
Raise all my kindred. Are they married, think you?

RODERIGO
Truly, I think they are.

BRABANTIO
Oh, heaven, how got she out? Oh, treason of the blood!
Fathers, from hence trust not your daughters' minds
By what you see them act. Is there not charms
By which the property of youth and maidhood
May be abused? Have you not read, Roderigo,
Of some such thing?

RODERIGO
Yes, sir, I have indeed.

......................... Exeunt

c. 1398 words (incl. der Wiederholung aller Namen der auftretenden Personen)

Sources: SparkNotes
und Übersetzung von Wolf Graf Baudissin


Assignments:
1. Briefly summarize what this scene is about.
2. Iago is characterized by the following two quotations:
'In following him, I follow but myself.'
and
'But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at. I am not what I am.'
What do these quotations suggest about Iago's character?
3. The use of animal imagery in connection with Othello is obvious. Pick examples and say what such imagery wants to achieve as to Othello's reputation.
4. Comment on the racial issue already surfacing in this scene.



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