by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

Enter OTHELLO, IAGO, and attendants with torches
OTHELLO and IAGO enter, followed by attendants with torches.
Though in the trade of war I have slain men,
Yet do I hold it very stuff o' th' conscience
To do no contrived murder. I lack iniquity
Sometimes to do me service. Nine or ten times
5I had thought t' have yerked him here under the ribs.
I’ve killed many men in battle, but I still believe it’s deeply wrong to murder someone. Sometimes I worry I’m not cruel enough for this job. Nine or ten times I wanted to stab him under the ribs.
'Tis better as it is.
It’s better that you didn’t kill him.
    Nay, but he prated
And spoke such scurvy and provoking terms
Against your honor
That, with the little godliness I have,
10I did full hard forbear him. But I pray you, sir,
Are you fast married? Be assured of this:
That the Magnifico is much beloved
And hath in his effect a voice potential
As double as the Duke’s. He will divorce you,
15Or put upon you what restraint and grievance
The law (with all his might to enforce it on)
Will give him cable.
But he kept chattering so foolishly, talking about you in such insulting and despicable terms, that it was hard for me to restrain myself. But please tell me, sir, is your marriage


Iago may be asking whether Othello has consummated his marriage by sleeping with Desdemona yet. A marriage could be annulled if it had never been consummated.

? Brabantio is an important man in this city, almost as powerful as the duke himself. He’ll try to annul your marriage, or else inflict whatever punishment the law and his power will allow him to.
    Let him do his spite.
My services which I have done the signiory
Shall out-tongue his complaints. 'Tis yet to know—
20Which, when I know that boasting is an honor,
I shall promulgate. I fetch my life and being
From men of royal siege, and my demerits
May speak unbonneted to as proud a fortune
As this that I have reached. For know, Iago,
25But that I love the gentle Desdemona,
I would not my unhousèd free condition
Put into circumscription and confine
For the sea’s worth. But look, what lights come yond?
Let him do his worst. The services I have done for the Venetian government will count for more than his complaints will. No one knows this yet—and I don’t like to brag, but I come from a royal family, and I’m as noble as the woman I’ve married. And let me tell you, Iago, if I didn’t love Desdemona as much as I do, I’d never agree to get married and lose my freedom at all. But look at those lights. Who’s coming?