In response to Brabantio's accusation that Othello has bewitched his daughter, Othello explains how she originally fell in love with him. How did it happen and why has Othello's description been called "the Othello music"?

Act 1 scene 3

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Noble, honorable gentlemen whom I serve: it’s true that I’ve taken this man’s daughter from him and married her. But that’s my only offense. There’s nothing more. I’m awkward in my speech and I’m not a smooth talker. From the time I was seven years old until nine months ago I’ve been fighting in battles. I don’t know much about the world apart from fighting. So I won’t do myself much good by speaking in my own defense. But if you’ll let me, I’ll tell you the plain story of how we fell in love, and what drugs, charms, spells, and powerful magic—because that’s what I’m being accused of—I used to win his daughter.

Her father loved me and used to invite me to his house often, continually asking me about my life and all the battles I’ve fought. I told him everything, from my boyhood up until the time when I was talking to him. I told him about unfortunate disasters, hair-raising adventures on sea and on land, and near-catastrophes and dangerous adventures I’ve been through. I told him how I was captured and sold as a slave, how I bought my freedom, and how I wandered through caves and deserts. I was able to tell him about cannibals who eat each other, and men with heads growing below their shoulders. When I talked about all these things, Desdemona used to listen attentively. If she had to go do some household chore, I noticed that she’d always come back quickly to hear more of my stories.

When I was relaxing, she’d pull me aside and ask to hear some part of a story she had missed. Her eyes would fill with tears at the bad things I went through in my younger years. When my stories were done, she’d sigh and tell me how strangely wonderful and sad my life had been. She said she wished she hadn’t heard it, but she also wished there was a man like me for her. She thanked me and told me that if a friend of mine had a story like mine to tell, she’d fall in love with him. I took the hint and spoke to her. She said she loved me for the dangers I’d survived, and I loved her for feeling such strong emotions about me. That’s the only witchcraft I ever used. Here comes my wife now. She’ll confirm everything.



“Othello is the most domestic of Shakespeare's tragedies. Its focus is not on the fall of a king, the collapse of a nation, the agony of a prince or the contradiction between love and duty. Rather, it is about the end of a marriage and a husband's murder of his wife. It is intimately concerned with the details of sexual jealousy: how it is sparked, how the flames are fueled and how it brings down catastrophe on the protagonist's shoulder.

The poetry and formal control of Othello make it as organized as a symphony: scholars rightly talk of ‘the Othello music.' In particular, this quality is signaled by the soaring language that Othello, and Othello alone, is given to speak—in a marked contrast, for example, to Iago's style, which is witty, ironical, matter of fact and ruthless.”