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Playing with Act 5 Scene 2

Watch the RSC 2015 acting company working on Othello Act 5 Scene 2 with director Iqbal Khan, discussing the scene.
8.6
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.
31.4
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.
75.6
She wakes.
76.2
SPEAKER 3: Who’s there? Othello?
78.8
SPEAKER 1: Aye, Desdemona.
79.9
SPEAKER 3: Will you come to bed, my lord?
82.9
SPEAKER 1: Have you prayed tonight, Desdemona?
85.9
SPEAKER 3: Aye, my lord.
87.8
SPEAKER 1: If you bethink yourself of any crime, unreconciled as yet to heaven and grace, solicit for it straight.
95.2
SPEAKER 3: Alas, my lord, what may you mean by that?
97.7
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.
105.9
SPEAKER 3: Talk you of killing?
107.7
SPEAKER 1: Aye, I do.
109.5
SPEAKER 3: Then heaven have mercy on you.
112.5
SPEAKER 1: Amen with all my heart.
115.4
SPEAKER 3: If you say so. I hope you will not kill me.
119.5
SPEAKER 1: Hm.
120.3
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.
132.2
SPEAKER 1: Think on thy sins.
134.6
SPEAKER 3: They are the loves I bear to you.
137.7
SPEAKER 1: Ha, aye. And so that, thou diest.
148.2
SPEAKER 3: That death’s unnatural that kills for loving!
151.4
SPEAKER 1: Peace and be still!
158.3
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.
177.2
SPEAKER 1: She wakes.
178.1
SPEAKER 3: Who’s there? Othello?
180.7
SPEAKER 1: Aye, Desdemona.
181.8
SPEAKER 3: Will you come to bed, my lord?
184.2
SPEAKER 1: Have you prayed tonight, Desdemona?
186.2
SPEAKER 3: Aye, my lord.
187.3
SPEAKER 1: If you bethink yourself of any crime, unreconciled as yet to heaven and grace, solicit for it straight.
193.2
SPEAKER 3: Alas, my lord, what may you mean by that?
194.9
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.
201.9
SPEAKER 3: Talk you of killing.
203.1
SPEAKER 1: Aye, I do.
204.2
SPEAKER 3: Then heaven have mercy on me.
205.9
SPEAKER 1: Amen with all my heart.
207.5
SPEAKER 3: If you say so. I hope you will not kill me.
210.5
SPEAKER 1: Hm.
211.1
SPEAKER 3: And yet, I fear you. Why I should fear I know not, since guiltiness I know not. Yet I feel I fear.
220.2
SPEAKER 1: Think on thy sins
221.5
SPEAKER 3: They are the loves I bear to you.
223.8
SPEAKER 1: Aye. And for that, thou diest.
230.9
SPEAKER 3: That death’s unnatural that kills for loving!
234.3
SPEAKER 1: Peace, be still.
237.5
SPEAKER 3: I will so.
247.6
What’s the matter?
253.9
SPEAKER 1: That handkerchief which I so loved and gave thee, thou gavest to Cassio.
260.8
SPEAKER 3: No, no, by my life and soul! Send for the man and ask him!
266.4
SPEAKER 1: Oh, sweet soul. Take heed– take heed of perjury. Thou art on thy deathbed.
271.9
SPEAKER 3: Aye, but not yet to die.
273.3
SPEAKER 1: Yes, presently. Therefore, confess thee freely of thy sin.
278.7
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.
297.5
SPEAKER 3: Yeah.
298.2
SPEAKER 2: She knows it’s wrong.
299.5
SPEAKER 3: Yeah.
300.9
SPEAKER 1: Honest Iago has ta’en order for it
304.7
SPEAKER 3: Oh. My fear interprets– what, is he dead?
312.4
SPEAKER 1: Had all his hairs been lives, my great revenge had stomach for them all.
318.2
SPEAKER 3: Alas, he is betrayed and I undone.
324.9
SPEAKER 1: Out, strumpet! Wheep’st thou for him to my face?
329
SPEAKER 3: Oh, banish me, my lord, but kill me not!
331.1
SPEAKER 1: Down, strumpet.
332.2
SPEAKER 3: Kill me tomorrow, let me live tonight.
334.5
SPEAKER 1: Nay, if you– strive.
335.9
SPEAKER 3: But half an hour!
336.4
SPEAKER 1: Being done, there is no pause.
337.8
SPEAKER 3: But while I say one prayer!
339.3
SPEAKER 1: It is too late.
341.2
SPEAKER 2: So what is it then that really snapped you in terms of action, in terms of going in for the kill?
347.2
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.
359.2
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.
368.2
SPEAKER 3: Yeah.
369.3
SPEAKER 2: And all you want, then, is time.
371.1
SPEAKER 3: Yeah.
372
SPEAKER 2: So banish me, kill me tomorrow.
374.8
SPEAKER 3: Half an hour.
375.8
SPEAKER 2: Just half an hour. And what’s the final thing you say?
378.3
SPEAKER 3: Let me say one prayer.
380.3
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.
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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Othello: In Performance

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