Act III - Scene I

[Before the castle.]

Enter Cassio, with Musicians, and the Clown.

CASSIO:
Masters, play here, I will content your pains;
Something that's brief; and bid “Good morrow, general.”
CLOWN:
Why, masters, have your instruments been in Naples,
that they speak i' the nose thus?
FIRST MUSICIAN:
How, sir, how?(5)
CLOWN:
Are these, I pray you, wind instruments?
FIRST MUSICIAN:
Ay, marry, are they, sir.
CLOWN:
O, thereby hangs a tail.
FIRST MUSICIAN:
Whereby hangs a tale, sir?
CLOWN:
Marry, sir. But, masters, here's money for you; and the(10)
general so likes your music, that he desires you, for love's
sake, to make no more noise with it.
FIRST MUSICIAN:
Well, sir, we will not.
CLOWN:
If you have any music that may not be heard, to't
again; but, as they say, to hear music the general does not(15)
greatly care.
FIRST MUSICIAN:
We have none such, sir.
CLOWN:
Then put up your pipes in your bag, for I'll away. Go,
vanish into air, away! [Exeunt Musicians.]
CASSIO:
Dost thou hear, my honest friend?(20)
CLOWN:
No, I hear not your honest friend; I hear you.
CASSIO:
Prithee, keep up thy quillets. There's a poor piece of
gold for thee. If the gentlewoman that attends the general's
wife be stirring, tell her there's one Cassio entreats her a
little favor of speech. Wilt thou do this?
CLOWN:
She is stirring, sir. If she will stir hither, I shall seem
to notify unto her.
CASSIO:
Do, good my friend.

[Exit Clown.]

[Enter Iago.]

In happy time, Iago.
IAGO:
You have not been abed, then?(30)
CASSIO:
Why, no; the day had broke
Before we parted. I have made bold, Iago,
To send in to your wife. My suit to her
Is that she will to virtuous Desdemona
Procure me some access.(35)
IAGO:
I'll send her to you presently;
And I'll devise a mean to draw the Moor
Out of the way, that your converse and business
May be more free.
CASSIO:
I humbly thank you for't. Exit [Iago.] I never knew(40)
A Florentine more kind and honest.

Enter Emilia.

EMILIA:
Good morrow, good lieutenant. I am sorry
For your displeasure, but all will sure be well.
The general and his wife are talking of it,
And she speaks for you stoutly. The Moor replies(45)
That he you hurt is of great fame in Cyprus
And great affinity, and that in wholesome wisdom
He might not but refuse you; but he protests he loves you,
And needs no other suitor but his likings
To take the safest occasion by the front(50)
To bring you in again.
CASSIO:
Yet, I beseech you,
If you think fit, or that it may be done,
Give me advantage of some brief discourse
With Desdemona alone.
EMILIA:
Pray you, come in.
I will bestow you where you shall have time
To speak your bosom freely.
CASSIO:
I am much bound to you.

Exeunt.

Footnotes

  1. According to Emilia’s report, Othello has mixed feelings about Cassio’s reinstatement. On the one hand, Cassio attacked Montano, a man of high repute, and thus shamed himself. On the other hand, Othello loves Cassio and has the power—”needs no other suitor but his likings”—to return Cassio to his rank.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. Iago is from Venice; Cassio, Florence. In this remark, Cassio compares Iago to his fellow Florentines, finding the man just as kind and honest. This reiterates one of the play’s central sources of irony: despite his intentions, Iago is consistently praised for his upright moral character.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. The clown, continuing his ribbing, subtly calls the sound of the wind instruments flatulent. Even in a play as serious as Othello, Shakespeare is sure to include a fart joke. Shakespeare understood the value of comedic relief, incorporating a clown or jester in each of his plays.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. The clown’s joke originates from the reputation of Naples as a hotbed of syphilis. The sharp, nasal tone of the instruments sounds similar to that of a man whose nose is affected by syphilis. Shakespeare’s plays are a blend of high and low sensibilities. In each of his plays, one can find both serious meditations and dirty jokes.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. The opening of Act III finds Cassio working to undo the damage he did in Act II. Here he sets a group of musicians to play in front of Othello’s house in an attempt to regain favor with his general.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff