Tuesday, February 13th, 2018...11:52 pmMarissa

Staging Othello (pgs. 49-50)

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If I was the new director of Othello, although I would need to study the book for much longer, one of the scenes that stood out the most to me was on pages 49 to 50, when Iago and Roderigo wake up Brabantio at his window. This is the passage:


Awake! What ho, Brabantio! Thieves, thieves, thieves!

Look to your house, your daughter, and your bags!

Thieves, thieves!

Brabantio [enters] above, [at a window].*


What is the reason of this terrible summons?

What is the matter there?


Signor, is all your family within?


Are your doors locked?

Brabantio: Why, wherefore ask you this?

Zounds, sir, you’re robbed. For shame, put on your gown!

Your heart is burst; you have lost half your soul.

Even now, now, very now, an old black ram

Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise!

Awake the snorting citizens with the bell,

Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you.

Arise, I say!

Brabantio: What, have you lost your wits?


Most reverend signor, do you know my voice?

Brabantio: Not I. What are you?

Roderigo: My name is Roderigo.

Brabantio: The worser welcome.

I have charged thee not to haunt about my doors.

In honest plainness thou hast heard me say

My daughter is not for thee; and now, in madness

Being full of supper and distempt ring drafts,

Upon malicious bravery dost thou come

To start my quiet.


Sir, sir, sir —

Brabantio: But thou must needs be sure

My spirits and my place have in their power

To make this bitter to thee.

Roderigo: Patience, good sir.

(pgs. 49-50)

This passage stuck out to me because I read it as if once Brabantio was actually awake, he did not listen to what they had to say before he started telling them that he had the power to make sure that they paid for waking him up. Brabantio does not even know the real reason that they are at his house until after. In the beginning, Iago is just yelling this at Brabantio’s window and I picture him having a smile on his face and the words coming out of his mouth with a  mocking tone. I read most of this passage with a mocking tone from Iago, and Roderigo was just doing what he was told. I see them standing underneath the balcony of Brabantio’s window yelling to him while he is in pajamas.

When Brabantio walks out he is confused and just wants to know why they woke him up in the middle of the night screaming at his window. Iago and Roderigo start instantly asking him questions without giving him any context because Iago is only there because he is up to no good and Roderigo is going along with him. When Iago says, “For shame, put on your gown! Your heart is burst; you have lost half your soul” (49). I picture Iago mocking Brabantio looking up at him in what he is dressed in to sleep. Iago instantly tells him that he needs to make all of the citizens around them in Venice aware that his daughter has been “stolen,” because she is technically his property until she gets married to someone that he chooses, and there is no time to sleep.

Brabantio thinks that they are crazy for saying all of this because he does not think that he has been robbed and still does not know what they are referring to. Roderigo takes it upon himself to ask if Brabantio knows him and tells him who he is because he thinks that it will make him a more reliable source. Brabantio then mocks them saying that his daughter is not going to marry either of them and now they came to disrupt his quiet and he has the power to make them pay for it. Roderigo mocks him and tries to explain to him that they did not come to ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage, but instead to tell him that Desdemona has run off and eloped with Othello, the Moor.

I would make sure that Othello’s character was a great actor because he is always mocking someone or using someone to get what he wants. In this case, he is using Roderigo, which makes me think that Roderigo’s character is not that intelligent or he just does not care. Brabantio’s character acts like he is all high and mighty and no one is better than him, and portrays that he has a lot of power to everyone that he meets almost instantly. If I were to cast this play, I would make sure that each of these characters had actors that would fit their personalities within these scenes to make sure that their true emotions come through, especially Iago.

1 Comment

  •   Professor Seiler
    February 20th, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    Marissa–yes, the scene you’ve chosen is one of Shakespeare’s classic “roused from slumber” scenes. Do you have a sense of which actors you could cast? Who’s got the necessary skills and character traits to perform Roderigo and Iago as you envision them?

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