A line-by-line translation

Othello

Othello Translation Table of Contents

The “moor” Othello (a military general from North Africa) and Desdemona, the white daughter of a Venetian nobleman, fall in love and marry in secret. Once Othello promotes Cassio to a prominent military role over Iago, Iago feels slighted. He vows to destroy Othello and Desdemona’s happiness in revenge. Shakespeare’s play explores “jealousy...the green-ey’d monster” and its ability to poison the mind; Othello is a tragedy about love, agency, race, and deception. The Shakescleare modern English translation helps illuminate some of Othello’s key lines, such as “Reputation is an idle and most false imposition” and “one that loved not wisely, but too well.”

Act 1, Scene 1

Iago and Roderigo tell Brabantio that Desdemona has eloped with Othello. Brabantio sends out a search party.

Act 1, Scene 2

It's revealed that Othello has married Desdemona. The Duke calls a war council, which Othello and Brabantio attend.

Act 1, Scene 3

The Turks are attacking Cyprus; the Duke sends Othello to defend the island after dismissing Brabantio's allegations.

Act 2, Scene 1

There has been a storm that stops the Turkish invasion, but the Venetians are safe. Iago plots against Othello.

Act 2, Scene 2

A herald announces a public holiday since the Turkish fleet has been destroyed by the storm.

Act 2, Scene 3

Iago gets Cassio drunk. A fight breaks out and Cassio wounds Montano. Othello enters and demotes Cassio.

Act 3, Scene 1

Cassio comes to ask Emilia if he can see Desdemona, who might speak to Othello on his behalf.

Act 3, Scene 2

Othello dispatches Iago to send letters to his ship's captain and the Venetian senate.

Act 3, Scene 3

Desdemona tries to help Cassio; Iago convinces Othello that she does so out of love. Emilia unknowingly helps Iago.

Act 3, Scene 4

A jealous Othello asks Desdemona where her handkerchief is. Cassio asks Bianca to copy the handkerchief's embroidery.

Act 4, Scene 1

Othello sees Cassio with the handkerchief and falls into a seizure. Othello hits Desdemona in front of courtiers.

Act 4, Scene 2

Othello questions Emilia. He then accuses Desdemona and storms away. Iago is confronted by Roderigo, but wins him over.

Act 4, Scene 3

Othello tells Desdemona to wait for him alone and to dismiss Emilia for the night. Desdemona and Emilia talk candidly.

Act 5, Scene 1

Roderigo fights Cassio and both are injured. Iago kills Roderigo, and seriously injures Cassio. Iago blames Bianca.

Act 5, Scene 2

Othello kills Desdemona. Iago's schemes are revealed; he kills Emilia and is arrested. Othello kills himself.
Ben florman
About the Translator: Ben Florman

Ben is a co-founder of LitCharts. He holds a BA in English Literature from Harvard University, where as an undergraduate he won the Winthrop Sargent prize for best undergraduate paper on a topic related to Shakespeare.