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Skip to 0 minutes and 9 secondsSPEAKER 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 secondsSPEAKER 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 secondsShe wakes.

Skip to 1 minute and 16 secondsSPEAKER 3: Who's there? Othello?

Skip to 1 minute and 19 secondsSPEAKER 1: Aye, Desdemona.

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

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

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

Skip to 1 minute and 28 secondsSPEAKER 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 secondsSPEAKER 3: Alas, my lord, what may you mean by that?

Skip to 1 minute and 38 secondsSPEAKER 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 secondsSPEAKER 3: Talk you of killing?

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

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

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

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

Skip to 2 minutes and 0 secondsSPEAKER 1: Hm.

Skip to 2 minutes and 0 secondsSPEAKER 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 secondsSPEAKER 1: Think on thy sins.

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

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

Skip to 2 minutes and 28 secondsSPEAKER 3: That death's unnatural that kills for loving!

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

Skip to 2 minutes and 38 secondsSPEAKER 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 secondsSPEAKER 1: She wakes.

Skip to 2 minutes and 58 secondsSPEAKER 3: Who's there? Othello?

Skip to 3 minutes and 1 secondSPEAKER 1: Aye, Desdemona.

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

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

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

Skip to 3 minutes and 7 secondsSPEAKER 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 secondsSPEAKER 3: Alas, my lord, what may you mean by that?

Skip to 3 minutes and 15 secondsSPEAKER 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 secondsSPEAKER 3: Talk you of killing.

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

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

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

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

Skip to 3 minutes and 31 secondsSPEAKER 1: Hm.

Skip to 3 minutes and 31 secondsSPEAKER 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 secondsSPEAKER 1: Think on thy sins

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

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

Skip to 3 minutes and 51 secondsSPEAKER 3: That death's unnatural that kills for loving!

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

Skip to 3 minutes and 58 secondsSPEAKER 3: I will so.

Skip to 4 minutes and 8 secondsWhat's the matter?

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

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

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

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

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

Skip to 4 minutes and 39 secondsSPEAKER 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 secondsSPEAKER 3: Yeah.

Skip to 4 minutes and 58 secondsSPEAKER 2: She knows it's wrong.

Skip to 5 minutes and 0 secondsSPEAKER 3: Yeah.

Skip to 5 minutes and 1 secondSPEAKER 1: Honest Iago has ta'en order for it

Skip to 5 minutes and 5 secondsSPEAKER 3: Oh. My fear interprets-- what, is he dead?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Skip to 5 minutes and 35 secondsSPEAKER 1: Nay, if you-- strive.

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

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

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

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

Skip to 5 minutes and 41 secondsSPEAKER 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 secondsSPEAKER 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 secondsSPEAKER 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 secondsSPEAKER 3: Yeah.

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

Skip to 6 minutes and 11 secondsSPEAKER 3: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

Skip to 6 minutes and 20 secondsSPEAKER 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