The Personality of Othello
Othello’s speech to Brabantio and the Duke in Act 1, Scene 3 is of major importance in describing Othello’s personality. This long speech, found in lines 149 to 196, shows Othello for the first time as a person with depth and less as a soldier. This speech is important to the book as a whole because it is a testimony to the strength of the love between Othello and Desdemona, which will later play a major role in the plot. It is also one of the first times that we see Othello trying to influence his audience with his words. The speech given by Othello is intended to convince Brabantio that Desdemona is with him willfully, and not by “spells and medicines bought of montebanks” (line 74).
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 disastrous chances:
Of moving accidents by flood and field,
Of hairbreadth 'scapes i' th' imminent deadly breach
Of being taken by the insolent foe
And portance in my traveler's history,
Wherein of antres vast and deserts idle,
Rough quarries, rocks, (and) hills whose (heads) touch heaven,
It was my hint to speak–such was my process–
And of the cannibals that each (other) eat,
The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads
(Do grow) beneath their shoulders. These things to hear
Would Desdemona seriously incline.
But still the house affairs would draw her (thence,)
Which ever as she could with haste dispatch
She'd come again, and with a greedty 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, in 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.
Here comes the lady. Let her witness it. Lines 149-196
To influence his audience, Othello uses logic as well as an entrancing tone that surprises and allures his audience of Brabantio and the duke. Othello offers to tell his story, despite his discomfort with words. Othello tells the men that, “Rude am I in my speech, and little blessed with the soft phrase of peace. . . and therefore little shall I grace my cause...