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4.12

Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds SPEAKER 1: But to him, it’s almost a judicial killing. It’s an execution. Although later on, he characterises it as a sacrifice. It does have the fear of somebody talking to himself, perhaps needing to justify this to himself. Together, they were complete and made each other whole.

Skip to 0 minutes and 31 seconds SPEAKER 2: What’s wonderful about this, truthful about it, is how inconsistent, inconsistently, these people behave. And I think that that’s the case with Emilia as well. And I think that’s the way Shakespeare taps into these tragic impulses, these tragic experiences, where people aren’t in control of how their ends happen. Try and make it, as you said, about the adversarial, the judicial thing. This is justice. So sweet is now so fatal. I must weep. But they are cruel tears. This sorrow is heavenly. It strikes where it doth love.

Skip to 1 minute and 16 seconds She wakes.

Skip to 1 minute and 16 seconds SPEAKER 3: Who’s there? Othello?

Skip to 1 minute and 19 seconds SPEAKER 1: Aye, Desdemona.

Skip to 1 minute and 20 seconds SPEAKER 3: Will you come to bed, my lord?

Skip to 1 minute and 23 seconds SPEAKER 1: Have you prayed tonight, Desdemona?

Skip to 1 minute and 26 seconds SPEAKER 3: Aye, my lord.

Skip to 1 minute and 28 seconds SPEAKER 1: If you bethink yourself of any crime, unreconciled as yet to heaven and grace, solicit for it straight.

Skip to 1 minute and 35 seconds SPEAKER 3: Alas, my lord, what may you mean by that?

Skip to 1 minute and 38 seconds SPEAKER 1: Do it and be brief. I will walk by. I would not kill thy unprepared spirit. No, heaven forfend. I would not kill thy soul.

Skip to 1 minute and 46 seconds SPEAKER 3: Talk you of killing?

Skip to 1 minute and 48 seconds SPEAKER 1: Aye, I do.

Skip to 1 minute and 50 seconds SPEAKER 3: Then heaven have mercy on you.

Skip to 1 minute and 53 seconds SPEAKER 1: Amen with all my heart.

Skip to 1 minute and 55 seconds SPEAKER 3: If you say so. I hope you will not kill me.

Skip to 2 minutes and 0 seconds SPEAKER 1: Hm.

Skip to 2 minutes and 0 seconds SPEAKER 3: And yet I fear you. Why I should fear I know not, since guiltiness I know not. But yet I feel I fear you.

Skip to 2 minutes and 12 seconds SPEAKER 1: Think on thy sins.

Skip to 2 minutes and 15 seconds SPEAKER 3: They are the loves I bear to you.

Skip to 2 minutes and 18 seconds SPEAKER 1: Ha, aye. And so that, thou diest.

Skip to 2 minutes and 28 seconds SPEAKER 3: That death’s unnatural that kills for loving!

Skip to 2 minutes and 31 seconds SPEAKER 1: Peace and be still!

Skip to 2 minutes and 38 seconds SPEAKER 2: Just– just [INAUDIBLE]. Can I just ask you to do one thing? Take out these– play– play the time. You don’t want to give her space. Do it and I would be brief as we need to get on here. Protect this– on the– the chair thing. Even if he gets up off the chair, bang. No, stay on– stay in the chair. So we’ll play the type of thing with it.

Skip to 2 minutes and 57 seconds SPEAKER 1: She wakes.

Skip to 2 minutes and 58 seconds SPEAKER 3: Who’s there? Othello?

Skip to 3 minutes and 1 second SPEAKER 1: Aye, Desdemona.

Skip to 3 minutes and 2 seconds SPEAKER 3: Will you come to bed, my lord?

Skip to 3 minutes and 4 seconds SPEAKER 1: Have you prayed tonight, Desdemona?

Skip to 3 minutes and 6 seconds SPEAKER 3: Aye, my lord.

Skip to 3 minutes and 7 seconds SPEAKER 1: If you bethink yourself of any crime, unreconciled as yet to heaven and grace, solicit for it straight.

Skip to 3 minutes and 13 seconds SPEAKER 3: Alas, my lord, what may you mean by that?

Skip to 3 minutes and 15 seconds SPEAKER 1: Well, do it and be brief. I will walk by. I would not kill thy unprepared spirit. No, heavens forfend. I would not kill thy soul.

Skip to 3 minutes and 22 seconds SPEAKER 3: Talk you of killing.

Skip to 3 minutes and 23 seconds SPEAKER 1: Aye, I do.

Skip to 3 minutes and 24 seconds SPEAKER 3: Then heaven have mercy on me.

Skip to 3 minutes and 26 seconds SPEAKER 1: Amen with all my heart.

Skip to 3 minutes and 28 seconds SPEAKER 3: If you say so. I hope you will not kill me.

Skip to 3 minutes and 31 seconds SPEAKER 1: Hm.

Skip to 3 minutes and 31 seconds SPEAKER 3: And yet, I fear you. Why I should fear I know not, since guiltiness I know not. Yet I feel I fear.

Skip to 3 minutes and 40 seconds SPEAKER 1: Think on thy sins

Skip to 3 minutes and 42 seconds SPEAKER 3: They are the loves I bear to you.

Skip to 3 minutes and 44 seconds SPEAKER 1: Aye. And for that, thou diest.

Skip to 3 minutes and 51 seconds SPEAKER 3: That death’s unnatural that kills for loving!

Skip to 3 minutes and 54 seconds SPEAKER 1: Peace, be still.

Skip to 3 minutes and 58 seconds SPEAKER 3: I will so.

Skip to 4 minutes and 8 seconds What’s the matter?

Skip to 4 minutes and 14 seconds SPEAKER 1: That handkerchief which I so loved and gave thee, thou gavest to Cassio.

Skip to 4 minutes and 21 seconds SPEAKER 3: No, no, by my life and soul! Send for the man and ask him!

Skip to 4 minutes and 26 seconds SPEAKER 1: Oh, sweet soul. Take heed– take heed of perjury. Thou art on thy deathbed.

Skip to 4 minutes and 32 seconds SPEAKER 3: Aye, but not yet to die.

Skip to 4 minutes and 33 seconds SPEAKER 1: Yes, presently. Therefore, confess thee freely of thy sin.

Skip to 4 minutes and 39 seconds SPEAKER 2: It’s interesting how what’s the matter is the simplest question, simplest– you express it so simply. And then you tell her. You finally tell her. And so there’s a possibility, isn’t there, of something else. And there was almost a relief. Yet, oh, well, that’s wrong.

Skip to 4 minutes and 58 seconds SPEAKER 3: Yeah.

Skip to 4 minutes and 58 seconds SPEAKER 2: She knows it’s wrong.

Skip to 5 minutes and 0 seconds SPEAKER 3: Yeah.

Skip to 5 minutes and 1 second SPEAKER 1: Honest Iago has ta’en order for it

Skip to 5 minutes and 5 seconds SPEAKER 3: Oh. My fear interprets– what, is he dead?

Skip to 5 minutes and 12 seconds SPEAKER 1: Had all his hairs been lives, my great revenge had stomach for them all.

Skip to 5 minutes and 18 seconds SPEAKER 3: Alas, he is betrayed and I undone.

Skip to 5 minutes and 25 seconds SPEAKER 1: Out, strumpet! Wheep’st thou for him to my face?

Skip to 5 minutes and 29 seconds SPEAKER 3: Oh, banish me, my lord, but kill me not!

Skip to 5 minutes and 31 seconds SPEAKER 1: Down, strumpet.

Skip to 5 minutes and 32 seconds SPEAKER 3: Kill me tomorrow, let me live tonight.

Skip to 5 minutes and 35 seconds SPEAKER 1: Nay, if you– strive.

Skip to 5 minutes and 36 seconds SPEAKER 3: But half an hour!

Skip to 5 minutes and 36 seconds SPEAKER 1: Being done, there is no pause.

Skip to 5 minutes and 38 seconds SPEAKER 3: But while I say one prayer!

Skip to 5 minutes and 39 seconds SPEAKER 1: It is too late.

Skip to 5 minutes and 41 seconds SPEAKER 2: So what is it then that really snapped you in terms of action, in terms of going in for the kill?

Skip to 5 minutes and 47 seconds SPEAKER 1: What– just the fact that she seems to show some kind of remorse, not for what the injury that she’s done to be, but for the fact that Casio, we believe, has been killed.

Skip to 5 minutes and 59 seconds SPEAKER 2: So her weeping for– for Casio and for herself, I am undone– it’s not just you being undone. It feels to me like it’s everything is undone.

Skip to 6 minutes and 8 seconds SPEAKER 3: Yeah.

Skip to 6 minutes and 9 seconds SPEAKER 2: And all you want, then, is time.

Skip to 6 minutes and 11 seconds SPEAKER 3: Yeah.

Skip to 6 minutes and 12 seconds SPEAKER 2: So banish me, kill me tomorrow.

Skip to 6 minutes and 15 seconds SPEAKER 3: Half an hour.

Skip to 6 minutes and 16 seconds SPEAKER 2: Just half an hour. And what’s the final thing you say?

Skip to 6 minutes and 18 seconds SPEAKER 3: Let me say one prayer.

Skip to 6 minutes and 20 seconds SPEAKER 2: And see, now that’s– that’s incredibly insightful. For that final moment is so simple and so awful. All she wants is just the space to hold onto life a little longer, just for another moment, a half an hour, to say one more prayer, which is the thing that he promised her at the beginning of the scene.

Playing with Act 5 Scene 2

In this video you will see the RSC 2015 acting company working on Act 5 Scene 2 with director Iqbal Khan, discussing the scene.

As you watch consider:

  • What the critical moments in this scene are where the tragic ending might have been avoidable.

  • What Desdemona asks for and why Othello responds as he does.

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

  • Is there anything in the language of this scene that you hadn’t noticed before that strikes you in these interpretations and discussions?

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This video is from the free online course:

Othello: In Performance

University of Birmingham