... their sheaths,' and 'the dew will rust them' is a bit of gentle sarcasm. Othello is reminding the men he's facing that their swords will be quite useless. He and his men are soldiers. Brabantio's men are policemen and civilians. It is quite impossible for Brabantio and his men to win any fight against Othello and his men.
[Scene Summary] At the Senate, replying to Brabantio's accusations, Othello first pays his respects to all present, addressing them as 'Most potent, grave, and reverend signors, / My very noble and approved good masters' (1. 3. 76-77). Then Othello judiciously distinguishes truth from fiction. He says, 'That I have ta " en away this old man's daughter, / It is most true; true, I have married her: / The very head and front of my offending / Hath this extent, no more' (1. 3.
78-81). By 'head and front of my offending,' Othello means the very worst that can be said of him. The phrase is a bit ironic; Brabantio has made all kinds of accusations, but the only thing that Othello has really done is marry Desdemona. Othello then says he can't give a good speech, since he has been a soldier from the age of seven, but he will 'a round un varnish'd tale deliver' (1. 3. 90) of his love.
Again being ironic, he also says that he will give an account of 'what drugs, what charms, / What conjuration and what mighty magic' (1. 3. 91-92) he used to win Desdemona's heart. His irony conveys the idea that his love is greater than any drug, charm, conjuration, or magic. [Scene Summary] In Cyprus, after passing through a storm at sea and being reunited with Desdemona, Othello expresses his joy: If after every tempest come such calms, May the winds blow till they have waken'd death! And let the labouring bark [ship] climb hills of seas Olympus-high and duck again as low As hell's from heaven! If it were now to die, 'There now to be most happy; for, I fear, My soul hath her content so absolute That not another comfort like to this Succeeds in unknown fate. (2.
1. 185-193) His comparisons expresses an emotion that knows no bounds -- not the bounds of sky, sea, heaven, hell, death or fate. [Scene Summary] At the end of his tale to Roderigo about how he was passed over for promotion to lieutenant, Iago displays his jealousy of Cassio. He says that Cassio, a 'counter-caster' (1.
1. 31) (our phrase is 'bean counter'), has the job Iago wanted, while Iago has to keep on being 'his Moorship's ancient [ensign] ' (1. 1. 33). A little later, Roderigo, who is desperately in love with Desdemona, expresses his jealousy of Othello's marriage to Desdemona by exclaiming, 'What a full fortune does the thick-lips owe [own] / If he can carry't thus!' (1. 1.
66-67). Where Roderigo says 'carry't thus' we would say 'carry it off.' [Scene Summary] After Desdemona makes it clear that she loves and honors her husband, Brabantio remains vindictive, and bitterly warns Othello that Desdemona may turn out to be a slut: 'Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see: / She has deceived her father, and may thee' (1. 3. 292-293).
No father has ever expressed a more hateful jealousy of his son-in-law. [Scene Summary] In a soliloquy at the end of the first scene in Cyprus, Iago speaks of his own motivations. He says of Desdemona, 'Now, I do love her too; / Not out of absolute lust, though peradventure / I stand accountant for as great a sin, / But partly led to diet [feed] my revenge' (2. 1.
291-294). He wants revenge for his own suspicion that Othello has gone to bed with Emilia. It's eating at his gut and he won't be satisfied 'Till I am even'd with him, wife for wife, / Or failing so, yet that I put the Moor / At least into a jealousy so strong / That judgment [reason] cannot cure' (2. 1. 299-302).
The phrase 'even'd with him, wife for wife,' seems to mean that he has some notion that he might have sex with Desdemona, but it's not the sex that's important. Othello must feel that same poisonous jealousy that Iago feels. [Scene Summary] Trying to prove to Roderigo that he really does hate Othello, Iago says that there are men who serve their masters only to get what they can, 'and when they have lin'd their coats / Do themselves homage' (1. 1. 53-54). In other words, they do themselves honor by being dishonorable to those that they serve.
We would call such persons embezzlers or worse, but Iago sees them in another light: 'These fellows have some soul; / And such a one do I profess myself' (1. 1. 54-55). He ends the speech by saying, 'I am not what I am' (1. 1. 65), and his actions in the rest of the play shows the truth of that statement.
He constantly uses his good reputation for dishonorable purposes. [Scene Summary] Trying to provoke Othello's anger against Brabantio, Iago tells him that Brabantio 'prated, / And spoke... scurvy and provoking terms / Against your honour' (1. 2.
6-8). Then he warns Othello that Brabantio will try to an null his marriage to Desdemona. Othello replies, Let him do his spite: My services which I have done the signory Shall out-tongue his complaints. 'Tis yet to know, -- Which, when I know that boasting is an honour, I shall promulgate -- I fetch my life and being From men of royal siege, and my demerits [deserts, merits] May speak unbonnet ed to as proud a fortune As this that I have reach'd... (1. 2.
17-24) His services to Venice have earned him a good reputation, and he seems sure that his reputation will protect him from Brabantio. Also, though he knows that it is not honorable boast of it, he is sure that he has natural honor as a descendant of kings and as a good man. Later in the scene, when Brabantio and his posse catch up with Othello, Brabantio accuses Othello of using magic and drugs on Desdemona. To Brabantio's way of thinking, that's the only thing that makes sense. He finds it incredible, he says to Othello, that Desdemona 'Would ever have, to incur a general mock, / Run from her guard age to the sooty bosom / Of such a thing as thou' (1. 2.
69-71). We would call a 'general mock' a 'bad reputation.' [Scene Summary] Pleading with the Duke to be allowed to accompany Othello to Cyprus, Desdemona says, 'I saw Othello's visage in his mind, / And to his honour and his valiant parts / Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate' (1. 3. 252-254). By saying 'I saw Othello's visage in his mind,' Desdemona shows that she understands and rejects the bigotry that is directed at him. A person's 'visage' is his face, and she understands that most Europeans consider black to be ugly, but she saw past his face to his honor and courage, which she adores.
Supporting Desdemona's request that she be allowed to accompany him to Cyprus, Othello assures the Duke that love would never interfere with his business. If it did, he's willing to let housewives use his helmet for a frying pan, 'And all indign and base adversities / Make head against my estimation!' (1. 3. 273-274).
In other words, if his relations with his wife took anything away from the performance of his duties, any of many small problems ('base adversities') would be enough to ruin his reputation ('estimation'). At the end of the same scene, as Iago is hatching his plan against Othello, he reflects that 'He holds me well / The better shall my purpose work on him' (1. 3. 390-391). He has a good reputation with Othello, and that will help him betray his trust. [Scene Summary] In Cyprus, observing the perfect harmony between the Othello and Desdemona, Iago comments in an aide, 'O, you are well tuned now! / But I'll set down the pegs that make this music, / As honest as I am.' (2.
1. 199-201). The 'pegs' to which he refers are the tuning pegs on a stringed instrument. Their love is the instrument on which Iago is planning to loosen ('set down') the pegs until the harmony is turned into discord.
And to accomplish his purpose he's planning to use his reputation for being 'honest.' [Scene Summary] Having given Cassio the job of making sure that the festivities in Cyprus don't get out of hand, Othello says to him, 'Good Michael, look you to the guard to-night: / Let's teach ourselves that honourable stop, / Not to out sport discretion' (2. 3. 1-3). The 'honourable stop' is self-restraint, but as the scene progresses, Cassio loses his self-restraint and that costs him his reputation. Iago has planned Cassio's downfall, and in a soliloquy he says that Cassio will share guard duty with three Cypriots 'That hold their honours in a wary distance' (2. 3.
56). Iago believes that because these three hold their honor so dear, any show of disrespect from Cassio will get him into trouble. Things don't turn out exactly as Iago predicts, but close enough. Roderigo insults Cassio, and Cassio beats him for that.
Then Montano tries to intervene and tells Cassio that he is drunk; for that insult Cassio wounds Montano. Thus, in defense of his honor, Cassio commits a dishonorable act. After Cassio has gotten drunk, wounded Montano, and lost his job, Iago asks him if he's hurt. Cassio answers that he has wound that can't be healed: 'Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation, Iago, my reputation!' (2.
3. 262-265). Iago is not impressed. He tells Cassio that reputation is 'oft got without merit, and lost without deserving' (2. 3. 269-270), and that the only thing that matters is what a person thinks of himself.