David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s OTHELLO: A Retelling — Act 3, Scenes 1-2

— 3.1 —

Cassio and some musicians walked to a place in front of the castle.

Cassio said, “Musicians, play here; I will pay you. Play something that’s brief, and bid the Moor, ‘Good morning, general.’”

Although Cassio was no longer Othello’s lieutenant, he was doing something considerate for Othello and Desdemona: He was following the custom of awakening the newly married couple with music after their first night together.

A clown, aka Fool, aka comedian, arrived, and listened to the musicians.

The clown said, “Your musical instruments have a nasal sound; they sound as if they are making music in a nose. Have your instruments been in Naples?”

The clown thought, That is a good joke, although I doubt if these musicians will get it. Naples is known for the venereal disease syphilis, which deforms the nose by collapsing the bridge.

The first musician said, “What do you mean?”

The clown then asked, “Are these wind instruments?”

“Yes, sir, they are,” the first musician replied.

“Thereby hangs a tail,” the clown said.

“Whereby hangs a tale, sir?” the first musician asked.

“A tail hangs by many a wind instrument that I know,” the clown replied.

The clown thought, That is true. One meaning of wind is a fart, and therefore an anus is a wind instrument. A tail — or penis — hangs by half of the human wind instruments on this Earth.

The clown added, “Musicians, here’s money for you. The general likes your music so well that he desires you, for love’s sake, to make no more noise with your instruments.”

“Well, sir, we will not,” the first musician said.

“If you have any music that cannot be heard, then play it, but the general does not care to actually hear music.”

“We have no music that cannot be heard, sir,” the first musician said.

“Then put your pipes in your bag and carry them away,” the clown said. “You need not carry me away; I will leave on my own. Vanish into air! Go away!”

The musicians departed, and Cassio asked the clown, “Do you hear, my honest friend?”

Because he was from Florence, Cassio’s language differed slightly from that of both Venice and Cyprus. He meant, Will you listen to me, my honest friend?

The clown ignored the comma in Cassio’s question and said, “No, I don’t hear your honest friend; I hear you.”

“Please, don’t engage in word play,” Cassio said. “Here is a small gold coin for you. If the gentlewoman — Emilia — who attends the general’s wife is stirring, tell her that a man named Cassio entreats her to listen to a few words. Will you do this for me?”

“She is stirring, sir,” the clown said.

He thought, Yes, she is stirring — in more ways than one. She stirs up sexual desire in men, and she is awake and out of bed.

He also thought,This is a man who is a little too fancy with words: “entreats her to listen to a few words.” Yech!

Making fun of Cassio’s speech, the clown added, “If she will stir hither, I shall seem to notify unto her.”

“Do that, my good friend.”

The clown departed.

Iago now arrived.

“You have come at a good time, Iago,” Cassio said.

“Haven’t you been to bed?” Iago asked.

“Why, no,” Cassio replied. “The dawn had broken before we parted. I have made bold, Iago, to send a request in to your wife. I want to ask her if she will arrange for me to talk to Desdemona.”

“I will send my wife to talk to you very soon,” Iago said. “I will also find a way to draw the Moor out of the way so that you and my wife can talk more freely.”

“I humbly thank you,” Cassio replied.

Iago departed, and Cassio said, “Iago could not be kinder and more honest; he is as kind and honest as a Florentine — a person from my own city, which is known for its etiquette and courtesy.”

An impartial observer might remember that Machiavelli, author of The Prince, had lived in Florence.

Emilia, Iago’s wife, walked up to Cassio.

“Good morning, good lieutenant,” she said. “I am sorry that you have incurred the Moor’s displeasure, but all will surely be well. The general and his wife were talking about you, and she spoke up for you strongly. However, the Moor replied that the man you hurt is well known in Cyprus and is a member of an important family. Therefore, the wisest thing for the Moor to do was to punish you, but the Moor said that he respects you and he needs nothing more than that respect to reinstate you as his lieutenant when he has a good opportunity to do so.”

“Still, I beg you,” Cassio replied, “if you think it fitting, and if it may be done, to allow me to speak briefly to Desdemona.”

“Please, come in,” Emilia replied. “I will put you in a place where you can speak freely to Desdemona.”

“I am much obliged to you,” Cassio said.

— 3.2 —

In a room of the castle, Othello, Iago, and some gentlemen were speaking about official business.

Othello said, “Iago, give these letters to the pilot of the ship sailing to Venice, and have him give my respects to the senate. Once that is done, come back to me. I will be walking on the fortifications.”

Iago replied, “My good lord, I will do what you say.”

“Shall we see this fortification, gentlemen?”

“We will go with you, your lordship,” a gentleman said.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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