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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsSPEAKER 1: They come from completely different worlds to each other-- in terms of race, in terms of experience, in terms of age, in terms of what it is that-- I can't imagine these two women having much to talk about.

Skip to 0 minutes and 23 secondsSPEAKER 2: It's first time she talks about her own past.

Skip to 0 minutes and 29 secondsSPEAKER 3: I think that's the trick with this scene, isn't it? Is that what you're both trying to do is play light and life, rather than that horrible, impending sense of an end.

Skip to 0 minutes and 40 secondsSPEAKER 1: How goes it now? He looks gentler than he did.

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 secondsSPEAKER 2: He says he will return incontinent, and hath commanded me to go to bed, and bid me to dismiss you.

Skip to 0 minutes and 53 secondsSPEAKER 1: Dismiss me?

Skip to 0 minutes and 54 secondsSPEAKER 2: It was his bidding. Therefore, good Emiila, give me my nightly wearing and adieu. We must not now displease him.

Skip to 1 minute and 3 secondsSPEAKER 1: Ay, would you had never seen him.

Skip to 1 minute and 6 secondsSPEAKER 2: So would not I.

Skip to 1 minute and 8 secondsSPEAKER 3: Challenge her with the, how dare you. So would not I and how are you say. Let's take that challenge.

Skip to 1 minute and 16 secondsSPEAKER 1: Dismiss me?

Skip to 1 minute and 18 secondsSPEAKER 2: It was his bidding. Therefore, good Emilia, give me my nightly wearing and adieu. We must not now displease him.

Skip to 1 minute and 30 secondsSPEAKER 1: Ay, would you had never seen him.

Skip to 1 minute and 32 secondsSPEAKER 2: So would not I. My love doth so approve him that even his stubbornness, his checks, his frowns-- prithee, unpin me-- have grace and favour in them.

Skip to 1 minute and 47 secondsSPEAKER 1: I have laid those sheets you bade me on the bed.

Skip to 1 minute and 50 secondsSPEAKER 2: All's one. Good faith, how foolish are our minds.

Skip to 2 minutes and 3 secondsIf I should die before thee, prithee, shroud me in one of those same sheets.

Skip to 2 minutes and 7 secondsSPEAKER 1: Come, come. You talk.

Skip to 2 minutes and 24 secondsSPEAKER 2: My mother had a maid called Barbary. She was in love. And he she loved proved mad and did forsake her. She had a song of "Willow." And old thing 'twas, but it expressed her fortune and she died singing it. That song tonight will not go from my mind.

Skip to 2 minutes and 49 secondsSPEAKER 3: You came into that scene with a Desdemona that was irritated, impatient, sort of wanted to just kick something. Like it exploited that-- exploited her status with her and pushed it as far as you possibly could. But in that moment, when you threw the water at her, I think what was lovely about the moment was that she could have responded very badly. It's the feminist speech. This is what I represent, this is what I do.

Skip to 3 minutes and 16 secondsSPEAKER 2: These men. Dost thou, in conscience, think-- tell me, Emilia-- that there be women do abuse their husbands in such gross kind?

Skip to 3 minutes and 25 secondsSPEAKER 1: There be some such. No question.

Skip to 3 minutes and 26 secondsSPEAKER 2: Wouldst thou do such a deed for all the world?

Skip to 3 minutes and 28 secondsSPEAKER 1: Why? Would not you?

Skip to 3 minutes and 29 secondsSPEAKER 2: No, by this heavenly light.

Skip to 3 minutes and 31 secondsSPEAKER 1: Nor I neither, by this heavenly light. I might do it as well in the dark.

Skip to 3 minutes and 36 secondsSPEAKER 2: Wouldst though do such a deed for all the world?

Skip to 3 minutes and 40 secondsSPEAKER 1: The world's a huge thing. It is a great price for a small vice.

Skip to 3 minutes and 43 secondsSPEAKER 2: In troth, I think thou wouldst not.

Skip to 3 minutes and 45 secondsSPEAKER 1: In troth, I think I should and undo it when I had done. Marry, I would not do such a thing for joint ring, nor for measures of lawn, nor caps, nor gowns, no petticoats, nor any petty exhibition, but for all the whole world, God's pity. Who would not make her husband a cuckold to make him a monarch. I should venture your purgatory for it.

Skip to 4 minutes and 8 secondsSPEAKER 2: Beshrew me, if I would do such a deed for all the world.

Skip to 4 minutes and 11 secondsSPEAKER 1: Why? The wrong is but a wrong in the world. And having the world for your labour, 'tis a wrong in your own world that you might quickly make it right.

Skip to 4 minutes and 20 secondsSPEAKER 2: I do not think there is any such woman.

Skip to 4 minutes and 23 secondsSPEAKER 1: Yes. A dozen. And as many to the vantage as would store the world they played for. But I do think it is their husbands' faults, if wives do fall.

Skip to 4 minutes and 35 secondsSPEAKER 3: Now actually, why don't you try and get in? Particularly, don't try and hide from her.

Skip to 4 minutes and 39 secondsSPEAKER 1: Who would not make her husband a cuckold to make him a monarch? I should venture your purgatory for it.

Skip to 4 minutes and 45 secondsSPEAKER 2: Beshrew me, if I would do such a deed for all the world.

Skip to 4 minutes and 48 secondsSPEAKER 1: Why? The wrong is but a wrong in the world. And having the world for your labour, 'tis a wrong in your own world that you might quickly make it right.

Skip to 4 minutes and 56 secondsSPEAKER 2: I do not think there is any such woman.

Skip to 4 minutes and 58 secondsSPEAKER 1: Yes. A dozen. And as many to the vantage as would store the world they played for.

Skip to 5 minutes and 3 secondsSPEAKER 2: Where are they?

Skip to 5 minutes and 4 secondsSPEAKER 1: But I do think it is their husbands' faults, if wives do fall. What is that they do when they change us for others? Is it sport? I think it is. And doth affection breed it? I think it doth. Is it frailty that thus errs? It is so, too. And have not we affections? Desires for sport and frailty as men have?

Skip to 5 minutes and 31 secondsSPEAKER 2: She's right. She's absolutely right. Men and women should be equal. I don't understand. I do not think there is any such women. Especially because we've modernised it-- we've set it now-- how can the character that I've played in the beginning, say a line like, I don't believe that there are women who have affairs or that are ambitious for their husbands and would, therefore, have sex with somebody else, so that their husband could advance?

Skip to 6 minutes and 0 secondsSPEAKER 3: What's very important about what you just did though is that that conversation-- it was more of an argument-- but it was completely improvised. It was literally-- it acquired a momentum and a muscle because of what the other person had said, because of the challenge and the surprise of the idea that the other person had expressed. And I think that's what we're always trying to do with these scenes, so they never seem inevitable.

Playing with Act 4 Scene 3

In this video you will see the RSC 2015 acting company working on Act 4 Scene 3 with director Iqbal Khan, discussing different interpretative choices for the scene.

As you watch consider:

  • The ways in which the possible choices within this scene have changed over time.

  • The nature of Emilia and Desdemona’s relationship and how that changes with each of the different choices.

Having watched the video share your thoughts on the following questions in the Comments:

  • Which of the interpretations do you most agree with and why?

  • In your opinion, what is Emilia trying to achieve with her speech in Act 4 Scene 3?

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This video is from the free online course:

Othello: In Performance

University of Birmingham

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