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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Scenes from the Tragedies
The Murder of Desdemona
By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
 
From ‘Othello

A bedchamber in the castle.  Desdemona in bed asleep.

[Enter Othello with a light.]

OTHELLO—It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul,—
Let me not name it to you, you chaste stars!—
It is the cause. Yet I’ll not shed her blood,
Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow,
And smooth as monumental alabaster.        5
Yet she must die, else she’ll betray more men.
Put out the light, and then put out the light.
If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
I can again thy former light restore,
Should I repent me; but once put out thy light,        10
Thou cunning’st pattern of excelling nature,
I know not where is that Promethean heat
That can thy light relume. When I have pluck’d the rose
I cannot give it vital growth again,
It needs must wither; I’ll smell it on the tree.
[Kisses her.]
        15
Oh, balmy breath, that dost almost persuade
Justice to break her sword! One more, one more.
Be thus when thou art dead, and I will kill thee
And love thee after. One more, and that’s the last;
So sweet was ne’er so fatal. I must weep,        20
But they are cruel tears. This sorrow’s heavenly;
It strikes where it doth love. She wakes.
  Desdemona—Who’s there? Othello?
  Othello—                    Ay, Desdemona.
  Desdemona—Will you come to bed, my lord?
  Othello—Have you pray’d to-night, Desdemona?
  Desdemona—                            Ay, my lord.
        25
  Othello—If you bethink yourself of any crime
Unreconcil’d as yet to Heaven and grace,
Solicit for it straight.
  Desdemona—Alack, my lord, what may you mean by that?
  Othello—Well, do it, and be brief; I will walk by.        30
I would not kill thy unprepared spirit;
No; heavens forfend! I would not kill thy soul.
  Desdemona—Talk you of killing?
  Othello—                    Ay, I do.
  Desdemona—                            Then Heaven
Have mercy on me!
  Othello—                    Amen, with all my heart!
  Desdemona—If you say so, I hope you will not kill me.        35
  Othello—Hum!
  Desdemona—And yet I fear you; for you’re fatal then
When your eyes roll so. Why I should fear I know not,
Since guiltiness I know not; but yet I feel I fear.
  Othello—Think on thy sins.
  Desdemona—                They are loves I bear to you.
        40
  Othello—Ay, and for that thou diest.
  Desdemona—That death’s unnatural that kills for loving.
Alas, why gnaw you so your nether lip?
Some bloody passion shakes your very frame.
These are portents; but yet I hope, I hope,        45
They do not point on me.
  Othello—                        Peace, and be still!
  Desdemona—I will so. What’s the matter?
  Othello—That handkerchief which I so lov’d and gave thee
Thou gav’st to Cassio.
  Desdemona—                    No, by my life and soul!
Send for the man, and ask him.
  Othello—                            Sweet soul, take heed,
        50
Take heed of perjury; thou art on thy death-bed.
  Desdemona—Ay, but not yet to die.
  Othello—                        Yes, presently:
Therefore confess thee freely of thy sin;
For to deny each article with oath
Cannot remove nor choke the strong conception        55
That I do groan withal. Thou art to die.
  Desdemona—O, Heaven, have mercy on me!
  Othello—                            I say, amen.
  Desdemona—And have you mercy too! I never did
Offend you in my life; never lov’d Cassio
But with such general warranty of heaven        60
As I might love; I never gave him token.
  Othello—By heaven, I saw my handkerchief in ’s hand.
O perjur’d woman! thou dost stone my heart,
And make me call what I intend to do
A murder, which I thought a sacrifice.        65
I saw the handkerchief.
  Desdemona—                    He found it then;
I never gave it him. Send for him hither;
Let him confess a truth.
  Othello—                        He hath confess’d.
  Desdemona—What, my lord?
  Othello—That he hath us’d thee.
  Desdemona—                    How? unlawfully?
  Othello—                                Ay.
        70
  Desdemona—He will not say so.
  Othello—                No, his mouth is stopp’d;
Honest Iago hath ta’en order for’t.
  Desdemona—O! my fear interprets. What, is he dead?
  Othello—Had all his hairs been lives, my great revenge
Had stomach for them all.        75
  Desdemona—Alas! he is betray’d and I undone.
  Othello—Out, strumpet! weep’st thou for him to my face?
  Desdemona—O, banish me, my lord, but kill me not!
  Othello—Down, strumpet!
  Desdemona—Kill me to-morrow; let me live to-night!        80
  Othello—Nay, if you strive,—
  Desdemona—But half an hour!
  Othello—                Being done, there is no pause.
  Desdemona—But while I say one prayer!
  Othello—                            It is too late.
[He smothers her.]
  Emilia  [at the door]—My lord, my lord! What, ho! my lord, my lord!
  Othello—What noise is this? Not dead? not yet quite dead?        85
I that am cruel am yet merciful;
I would not have thee linger in thy pain.
So, so.
  Emilia  [within]—        What, ho! my lord, my lord!
  Othello—Who’s there?
  Emilia  [within]—        O, good my lord, I would speak a word with you!
  Othello—Yes,—’tis Emilia.—By and by.—She’s dead.        90
’Tis like she comes to speak of Cassio’s death.
The noise was high. Ha! no more moving?
Still as the grave. Shall she come in? Were’t good?—
I think she stirs again:—no. What’s best to do?
If she come in, she’ll sure speak to my wife.        95
My wife! my wife! what wife? I have no wife.
O, insupportable! O heavy hour!
Methinks it should be now a huge eclipse
Of sun and moon, and that the affrighted globe
Did yawn at alteration.
  Emilia  [within]—                    I do beseech you
        100
That I may speak with you, O, good my lord!
  Othello—I had forgot thee. O, come in, Emilia.
Soft; by and by.—Let me the curtains draw.—
Where art thou?  [Unlocks the door.]
[Enter Emilia.]
                What’s the matter with thee now?
  Emilia—O, my good lord, yonder’s foul murders done!        105
  Othello—What, now?
  Emilia—But now, my lord.
  Othello—It is the very error of the moon;
She comes more nearer earth than she was wont,
And makes men mad.        110
  Emilia—Cassio, my lord, hath kill’d a young Venetian
Call’d Roderigo.
  Othello—                Roderigo kill’d!
And Cassio kill’d!
  Emilia—                    No, Cassio is not kill’d.
  Othello—Not Cassio kill’d! Then murder’s out of tune,
And sweet revenge grows harsh.        115
  Desdemona—O, falsely, falsely murder’d!
  Emilia—                        O Lord, what cry is that?
  Othello—That! what?
  Emilia—Out, and alas! that was my lady’s voice.
Help! help, ho! help! O lady, speak again!
Sweet Desdemona! O sweet mistress, speak!        120
  Desdemona—A guiltless death I die.
  Emilia—O, who hath done this deed?
  Desdemona—Nobody; I myself. Farewell!
Commend me to my kind lord. O, farewell!  [Dies.]
  Othello—Why, how should she be murder’d?
  Emilia—                            Alas, who knows?
        125
  Othello—You hear her say herself, it was not I.
  Emilia—She said so; I must needs report the truth.
  Othello—She’s, like a liar, gone to burning hell.
’Twas I that kill’d her.
  Emilia—                    O, the more angel she,
And you the blacker devil!        130
  Othello—She turn’d to folly, and she was a whore.
  Emilia—Thou dost belie her, and thou art a devil.
  Othello—She was false as water.
  Emilia—                    Thou art rash as fire, to say
That she was false: O, she was heavenly true!
  Othello—Cassio did top her; ask thy husband else.        135
O, I were damn’d beneath all depth in hell
But that I did proceed upon just grounds
To this extremity. Thy husband knew it all.
  Emilia—My husband!
  Othello—Thy husband.        140
  Emilia—That she was false to wedlock?
  Othello—Ay, with Cassio. Nay, had she been true,
If Heaven would make me such another world
Of one entire and perfect chrysolite,
I’d not have sold her for it.
  Emilia—                        My husband!
        145
  Othello—Ay, ’twas he that told me on her first.
An honest man he is, and hates the slime
That sticks on filthy deeds.
  Emilia—                        My husband!
  Othello—What needs this iterance, woman? I say thy husband.
  Emilia—O mistress, villainy hath made mocks with love!        150
My husband say that she was false!
  Othello—                                  He, woman;
I say thy husband; dost understand the word?
My friend, thy husband, honest, honest Iago.
  Emilia—If he says so, may his pernicious soul
Rot half a grain a day! He lies to the heart.        155
She was too fond of her most filthy bargain.
  Othello—Ha!
  Emilia—Do thy worst!
This deed of thine is no more worthy heaven
Than thou wast worthy her.
  Othello—                        Peace, you were best.
        160
  Emilia—Thou hast not half that power to do me harm
As I have to be hurt. O gull! O dolt!
As ignorant as dirt! Thou hast done a deed—
I care not for thy sword; I’ll make thee known,
Though I lost twenty lives.—Help! help, ho! help!        165
The Moor hath kill’d my mistress! Murder! murder!
 
 
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