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Act 3 Scene 4

Scene Summary

Desdemona frantically searches for her handkerchief. Othello, in an attempt to catch her out, demands to see it. Angered when she cannot produce it, he storms away. Emilia and Desdemona observe how much he has changed. Cassio asks Desdemona again to help him regain Othello’s trust, and she promises she will do everything she can. Having found Desdemona’s handkerchief in his room (where Iago planted it), Cassio asks his mistress, Bianca, to embroider another like it.

  1. Enter Desdemona, Emilia, and Clown.

  2. Desdemona:

    Do you know sirrah, where Lieutenant Cassio lies?

  3. Clown:

    I dare not say he lies anywhere.

  4. Desdemona:

    Why man?

  5. Clown:

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

  6. Desdemona:

    Go to! Where lodges he?

  7. Clown:

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

  8. Desdemona:

    Can anything be made of this?

  9. 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.

  10. Desdemona:

    Can you inquire him out, and be edified by report?

  11. Clown:

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

  12. Desdemona:

    Seek him. Bid him come hither. Tell him I have moved my lord on his behalf and hope all will be well.

  13. Clown:

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

    He exits.

  14. Desdemona:

    Where should I lose that handkerchief, Emilia?

  15. Emilia:

    I know not, madam.

  16. 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.

  17. Emilia:

    Is he not jealous?

  18. Desdemona:

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

  19. Emilia:

    Look where he comes.

    Enter Othello.

  20. Desdemona:

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

  21. Othello:

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

  22. Desdemona:

    Well, my good lord.

  23. Othello:

    Give me your hand.
    [He takes her hand.] This hand is moist, my lady.

  24. Desdemona:

    It yet has felt no age, nor known no sorrow.

  25. 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.

  26. Desdemona:

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

  27. Othello:

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

  28. Desdemona:

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

  29. Othello:

    What promise, chuck?

  30. Desdemona:

    I have sent to bid Cassio come speak with you.

  31. Othello:

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

  32. Desdemona:

    Here my lord.

  33. Othello:

    That which I gave you.

  34. Desdemona:

    I have it not about me.

  35. Othello:

    Not?

  36. Desdemona:

    No, faith, my lord.

  37. 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 a 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 wive)
    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.

  38. Desdemona:

    Is’t possible?

  39. Othello:

    ’Tis true. There’s magic in the web of it.
    A sybil 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.

  40. Desdemona:

    I’faith, is’t true?

  41. Othello:

    Most veritable, therefore look to’t well.

  42. Desdemona:

    Then would to God that I had never seen it!

  43. Othello:

    Ha! Wherefore?

  44. Desdemona:

    Why do you speak so startingly and rash?

  45. Othello:

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

  46. Desdemona:

    Heaven bless us!

  47. Othello:

    Say you?

  48. Desdemona:

    It is not lost. But what an if it were?

  49. Othello:

    How?

  50. Desdemona:

    I say it is not lost.

  51. Othello:

    Fetch ’t, let me see’t.

  52. 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.

  53. Othello:

    Fetch me the handkerchief. [Aside.] My mind misgives.

  54. Desdemona:

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

  55. Othello:

    The handkerchief!

  56. Desdemona:

    I pray, talk me of Cassio.

  57. Othello:

    The handkerchief!

  58. Desdemona:

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

  59. Othello:

    The handkerchief!

  60. Desdemona:

    I’faith, you are to blame.

  61. Othello:

    Zounds! [He exits.]

  62. Emilia:

    Is not this man jealous?

  63. Desdemona:

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

  64. Emilia:

    ’Tis not a year or two shows us a man.
    They are all but stomachs, and we all but food: 
    They eat us hungerly, and when they are full
    They belch us. [Enter Iago and Cassio.]
    Look you, Cassio and my husband.

  65. Iago:

    [To Cassio] There is no other way, ’tis she must do’t.
    And, lo, the happiness. Go and importune her.

  66. Desdemona:

    How now, good Cassio, what’s the news with you? nor present sorrows,

  67. 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 honour. 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.
  68. 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.

  69. Iago:

    Is my lord angry?

  70. Emilia:

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

  71. 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.

  72. Desdemona:

    I prithee do so. [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 a sense 
    Of pain. Nay, we must think men are not gods, 
    Nor of them look for such observancy 
    As fits the bridle. 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.

  73. Emilia:

    Pray heaven it be
    State matters, as you think, and no conception
    Nor no jealous toy concerning you.

  74. Desdemona:

    Alas the day, I never gave him cause.

  75. 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.

  76. Desdemona:

    Heaven keep that monster from Othello’s mind.

  77. Emilia:

    Lady, amen.

  78. 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.

  79. Cassio:

    I humbly thank your Ladyship.

    Exit Desdemona and Emilia.

    Enter Bianca.

  80. Bianca:

    ’Save you, friend Cassio.

  81. Cassio:

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

  82. 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 eight score times?
    O weary reck’ning!

  83. 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.

  84. 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.

  85. 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, by my faith, Bianca.

  86. Bianca:

    Why, whose is it?

  87. Cassio:

    I know not sweet. I found it in my chamber.
    I like the work well. Ere it be demanded
    (As like enough it will) I'd have it copied.
    Take it, and do’t, and leave me for this time.

  88. Bianca:

    Leave you? Wherefore?

  89. Cassio:

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

  90. Bianca:

    Why, I pray you?

  91. Cassio:

    Not that I love you not.

  92. Bianca:

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

  93. Cassio:

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

  94. Bianca:

    ’Tis very good. I must be circumstanced.

    They exit.