Some key quotes from Act I of ‘Othello’

It is essential to keep up to date with quotations from ‘Othello’. They will form a central part of every essay that you write. If you learn them well in now, it will make life much easier for you later on.

Here are some of the key quotes from Act I:

Scene 1

‘I know my price, I am worth no worse a place’
Iago to Roderigo

‘Mere prattle without practise
Is all his soldiership.’
Iago to Roderigo about Cassio

‘I follow him to serve my turn upon him.’
Iago to Roderigo

‘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 by sleeve
For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.’
Iago to Roderigo

‘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 colour.’
Iago to Roderigo

‘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.’
Iago to Brabantio

‘Because he 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.’
Iago to Brabantio

‘Farewell, for I must leave you:
It seems not meet, nor wholesome to my place,
To be produced – as, if I stay, I shall –
Against the Moor.’
Iago to Roderigo

‘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 a sign.’
Iago to Roderigo

‘Is there not charms
By which the property of youth and maidhood
May be abused?’
Brabantio to Roderigo


Scene 2

‘For know, Iago,
But that I love the gentle Desdemona,
I would not my unhoused free condition
Put into circumscription and confine
For the sea’s worth.’
Othello to Iago

‘I must be found:
My parts, my title and my perfect soul
Shall manifest me rightly.’
Othello to Iago

‘Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them.
Good signior, you shall more command with years
Than with your weapons.’
Othello to Brabantio and officers

‘If she in chains of magic were not bound,
Whether a maid so tender, fair and happy,
So opposite to marriage that she shunned
The wealthy curled darlings of our nation,
Would ever have, to incur a general mock,
Run from her guardage to the sooty bosom
Of such a thing as thou, to fear, not to delight.’
Brabantio to Othello


Scene 3

‘She is abused, stol’n from me, and corrupted
By spells and medicines bought of mountebanks;
For nature so preposterously to err,
Being not deficient, blind, or lame of sense,
Sans withcraft could not.’
Brabantio to Duke

‘Rude am I in my speech,
And little bless’d with the soft phrase of peace:
For since these arms of mine had seven years’ pith,
Till now some nine moons wasted, they have used
Their dearest action in the tented field,
And little of this great world can I speak,
More than pertains to feats of broil and battle,
And therefore little shall I grace my cause
In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,
I will a round unvarnishe’d tale deliver
Of my whole course of love; what drugs, what charms,
What conjuration and what mighty magic,
For such proceedings I am charged withal,
I won his daughter.’
Othello to Duke

‘A maiden never bold;
Of spirit so still and quiet, that her motion
Blush’d at herself; and she, in spite of nature,
Of years, of country, credit, every thing,
To fall in love with what she fear’d to look on!
It is a judgement maim’d and most imperfect
That will confess perfection so could err
Against all rules of nature, and must be driven
To find out practices of cunning hell,
Why this should be. I therefore vouch again
That with some mixtures powerful o’er the blood,
Or with some dram conjured to this effect,
He wrought upon her.’
Brabantio to Duke

‘If you do find me foul in her report,
The trust, the office I do hold of you,
Not only take away, but let your sentence
Even fall upon my life.’
Othello to Duke

‘She thank’d me,
And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story
And that would woo her. Upon this hint I spake:
She loved me for the dangers I had pass’d,
And I loved her that she did pity them.
This is the only witchcraft I have used’
Othello to Duke

‘I do perceive here a divided duty:
To I am bound for life and education;
My life and education both do learn me
How to respect you; you are the lord of duty;
I am hitherto your daughter: but here’s my husband,
And so much duty as my mother show’d
To you, preferring you before her father,
So much I challenge that I may profess
Due to the Moor my lord.’
Desdemona to Brabantio

‘I here do give thee that with all my heart
Which, but thou hast already, with all my heart
I would keep from thee.’
Brabantio to Othello

‘The Turk with a most mighty preparation makes for Cyprus.’
Duke to Othello

‘So please your grace, my ensign;
A man he is of honest and trust:
To his conveyance I assign my wife,
With what else needful your good grace shall think
To be sent after me.’
Othello to Duke

‘If virtue no delighted beauty lack,
Your son-in-law is far more fair than black.’
Duke to Brabantio

‘Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see:
She has deceived her father, and may thee.’
Brabantio to Othello

‘My life upon her faith! Honest Iago,
My Desdemona must I leave to thee:
I prithee, let thy wife attend upon her:
And bring them after in the best advantage.’
Othello to Brabantio and Iago

‘It cannot be that Desdemona should long continue her love to the Moor – put money in thy purse – nor he his to her: it was a violent commencement, and thou shalt see an answerable sequestration – put but money in thy purse. These Moors are changeable in their wills: fill thy purse with money – the food that to him now is as luscious as locusts, shall be to him shortly as bitter as coloquintida. She must change for youth: when she is sated with his body, she will find the error of her choice: she must have change, she must: therefore put money in thy purse.’
Iago to Roderigo

‘I have told thee often, and I re-tell thee again and again, I hate the Moor: my cause is hearted; thine hath no less reason. Let us be conjunctive in our revenge against him: if thou canst cuckold him, thou dost thyself a pleasure, me a sport.’
Iago to Roderigo

‘Thus do I ever make my fool my purse:
For mine own gain’d knowledge should profane,
If I would time expend with such a snipe.
But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor;
And it is thought abroad, that ‘twixt my sheets
He has done my office: I know not if’t be true;
But I, for mere suspicion in the kind,
Will do for surety. He holds me well;
The better shall my purpose work on him.
Cassio’s a proper man: let me see now:
To get his place and to plume up my will
In double knavery – How, how? Let’s see –
After some time, to abuse Othello’s ear
That he is too familiar with his wife.
He hath a person and a smooth dispose
To be suspected, framed to make women false. The
Moor is of a free and open nature,
That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,
And will as tenderly by led by the nose
As asses are.
I have’t. It is engender’d. Hell and night
Must bring this monstrous birth to the world’s light.’
Iago – soliloquy