Read Othello’s ‘Her Father Loved Me, Otf Invited Me’ monologue below with a modern English translation and analysis:
Spoken by Othello, Act 1, Scene 3
Her father loved me, oft invited me;
Still questioned me the story of my life
From year to year — the battles, sieges, fortunes
That I have passed.
I ran it through, even from my boyish days
To th’ very moment that he bade me tell it.
Wherein I spoke of most diastrous chances,
Of moving accidents by flood and field;
Of hairbreadth scapes i’ the’ imminent deadly breach;
Of being taken by the insolent foe
And sold to slavery; of my redemption thence
And portance in my travels’ history;
Wherein of anters vast and deserts idle,
Rough quarries, rocks, and hills whose heads touch heaven,
It was my hint to speak — such was the process;
And of the Cannibals that each other eat,
The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads
Do grow beneath their shoulders. This to hear
Would Desdemona seriously incline;
But still the house affairs would draw her thence;
Which ever she could with haste dispatch,
She’ld come again, and with a greedy ear
Devour up my discourse. Which I observing,
Took once a pliant hour, and found good means
To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart
That I would all my pilgrimage dilate,
Whereof by parcels she had something heard,
But not intentively. I did consent,
And often did beguile her of her tears
When I did speak of some distressful stroke
That my youth suffered. My story being done,
She gave me for my pains a world of sighs.
She swore, i’ faith, ’twas strange, ’twas passing strange;
‘Twas pitiful, ’twas wondrous pitiful.
She wished she had not heard it; yet she wished
That heaven had made her such a man. She thanked me;
And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story,
And that would woo her. Upon this hint I spake.
She loved me for the dangers I had passed,
And I loved her that she did pity them.
This only is the witchcraft I have used.
‘Her Father Loved Me, Otf Invited Me’ Monologue Translation
Her father liked me, He often invited me to his house, questioned me about my life – the battles, sieges, all the things that have happened to me. I told him everything, from my childhood to the present. I told him about the misfortunes, the accidents on water and land, of hairbreadth escapes from death, of being taken captive by the enemy and sold into slavery and of how I got away from that. I told him where I had travelled. He wanted to know about those vast caves and silent deserts, about the rough stony places, the rocks and mountains. That’s how it went. And of the cannibals that eat each other, and the Anthrapophagi, and men whose heads grow beneath their shoulders.
Desdemona loved listening too. Every now and then her household duties would drag her away but she came back as soon as she could and listened hungrily. Seeing that, one day I chose a convenient time to talk to her and she begged me to tell her the parts of the story that she had missed. I agreed, and found that she often wept when I spoke of some distressing episode in my youth. When I had told the full story she responded with a world of sighs. She exclaimed that it was a strange story, a very strange story, that it was sad, very sad. She wished that she hadn’t heard it, but she wished that she had been a man so that she could have had such adventures. She thanked me and told me that if I had a friend who loved her I should teach him how to tell my story and that would win her heart. On that hint I spoke out. She loved me for the dangers I had experienced and I loved her for pitying them. That is the only witchcraft I have used.’
Read other Shakespeare monologues >>
“And of the cannibals that eat each other, and the Anthrapophagi, and men whose heads grow beneath their shoulders.”
This is either misleading or incorrect. The Anthrapophagi are, in fact, the cannibals that each other.