Read Shakespeare’s ‘It Is The Cause’ soliloquy from Othello below with modern English translation and analysis, plus a video performance.

‘It Is The Cause’, Spoken by Othello, Act 5, Scene 2

It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul,
Let me not name it to you, you chaste stars!
It is the cause. Yet I’ll not shed her blood;
Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow,
And smooth as monumental alabaster.
Yet she must die, else she’ll betray more men.
Put out the light, and then put out the light:
If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
I can again thy former light restore,
Should I repent me: but once put out thy light,
Thou cunning’st pattern of excelling nature,
I know not where is that Promethean heat
That can thy light relume. When I have pluck’d the rose,
I cannot give it vital growth again.
It must needs wither: I’ll smell it on the tree.
Ah balmy breath, that dost almost persuade
Justice to break her sword! One more, one more.
Be thus when thou art dead, and I will kill thee,
And love thee after. One more, and this the last:
So sweet was ne’er so fatal. I must weep,
But they are cruel tears: this sorrow’s heavenly;
It strikes where it doth love. She wakes.

‘It Is The Cause’ Soliloquy Translation

That’s the reason, for that reason, my love. I can’t utter its name before the chaste heavens, but that’s the reason. And yet I won’t shed her blood or leave any mark on that whiter skin of hers than snow, and as smooth as alabaster used for sculpture. But she must die or she’ll betray other men. Put out the light first and then put out her light. If I quench you you flaming torch I can light you again if I change my mind. But if I put out your light, you deceptive picture of natural perfection, I don’t know any kind of heat that can restore your light. Once I have plucked your rose I can’t restore it to life; it must necessarily wither. ‘I’ll smell it while it’s still on the tree. Oh sweet breath that almost persuades me to change my mind. Once more, once more. If you are so beautiful when you are dead then I will kill you and keep loving you. Once more, and this is the last. Something so sweet was never so fatal. I must weep. But these are cruel tears. This is a holy sorrow – it hits where it loves.

Watch ‘It Is The Cause’ Soliloquy Performed

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Laurence Fishburn as Othello

Laurence Fishburn as Othello

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