“Othello” Characters: List and Analysis/0 Comments/in Uncategorized /by dennis
“Othello” Summary: One of The Greatest Tragedies in the World
“Othello” is a play written by William Shakespeare around 1604. It is also known under another title “The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice”. This is one of the most staged and read tragedies in the world. It presents a strong feeling of love which results in a cruel obsession driven by jealousy. The text is known for its gripping plot, rich language, and sad story. The story was actually inspired by another text – “A Moorish Captain” – written by Boccaccio’s student Cinthio. Such resemblance added more fire to the rumors that Shakespeare was not the true author of his plays, however, even today there is not enough evidence to prove or contest such speculations. So, millions of readers around the world continue to enjoy the rich and intense stories written by this famous English author.
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“Othello” Characters: List and Analysis
Othello is a Moor, a dark-skinned general who occupies a high post in the Venetian army. Shakespeare never mentions where Othello was born, but presumably, he has African or Middle Eastern roots. The time of his character predates large-scale slave trades and racism that would become more common later, so calling Othello black in parts of the play shouldn’t confuse the reader. Othello is a skilled warrior and a good man. His virtues convinced Venetian senators to approve of his marriage with Desdemona, even though she was much younger than him and her father wasn’t too thrilled about it. Deceived by one of his lieutenants, Othello kills his beloved wife in a jealous outrage.
Desdemona is the daughter of a Venetian Senator, Brabantio. She was a sought after bride for many men in Venice, but she fell in love with Othello. By eloping with Othello, Desdemona demonstrated courage to stand up to her father and fight for her wishes. Despite her courage, the young girl is very delicate and tender, and in the hands of Desdemona, Othello finds the softness, kindness, and generosity he couldn’t experience in the army. Desdemona is also very humble – she treats all people with respect and doesn’t discriminate based on class. The kind girl agrees to help Cassio make peace after their fight with Othello while knowing that her kindness towards Cassio will ignite Othello’s jealousy.
Cassio is a loyal lieutenant in Othello’s army. He doesn’t have much experience in the war, but he is able to win Othello’s trust. With his smooth and polite behavior, Cassio is the complete opposite of strict and direct Othello, but Othello appreciates their differences. However, when Iago convinces Othello that Cassio is having a secret affair with Desdemona, Othello starts to observe Cassio’s behavior, and because of their differences, the General finds more and more reasons to believe the lies about the affair.
Iago is the villain in the “Othello” play. He fakes his friendship with Othello and causes his doubts and jealousy. Iago sets his sights for the high lieutenant post occupied by Michael Cassio, and therefore begins to attempt to compromise his rival in the eyes of their supervisor – General Othello. Iago is the one who encourages Roderigo to expose Desdemona’s relationship with Othello to her father, hoping that the nobleman would not allow for such a marriage.
Brabantio is the Senator of Venice and the father of Desdemona. He can’t believe that his young, pretty, and tender daughter can fall in love with such a callous, dark-skinned Moor who is also much older than her. He calls upon the council of senators, presided by the Duke of Venice, to punish Othello for dishonoring his daughter. But instead, the council validates the marriage of Othello and Desdemona.
Roderigo is a soldier in the army who is fond of Desdemona. The young woman rejected his feelings towards her and that’s why Roderigo hates Othello thinking of him as his rival. He believed that Iago could help him get Desdemona back, but Iago uses Roderigo to instill Othello’s jealousy towards Cassio and tries to get Roderigo to kill Cassio. In the end, Roderigo manages to tell Cassio about Iago’s deeds which in turn help everybody see the reality clearly.
Duke of Venice is the ruler of the town. He is the one who grants Othello a lot of power and credibility when he asks him to gather the army and protect Venice’s lands (Cyprus) from the Turkish attack. He is also the one who approves Othello’s marriage to Desdemona, thus validating their feelings.
Senators are people of high positions in Venice. The reader first meets them during the council presided by the Duke of Venice. They approve the marriage of Desdemona and Othello, and they also send Othello to the war with the Turks over Cyprus. They represent the final authority of the state.
Montano is the Governor of Cyprus. He greets Othello, Iago, and others when they arrive on the island. He tries to dissolve the fight between Cassio and Roderigo and gets stabbed as a result. Othello then blames Cassio for Montano’s injury and strips him of his promotion. Montano recovers towards the end of the play and helps catch Iago.
Emilia is the wife of Iago. Unknowingly, she plays an important part in inflaming Othello’s jealousy – she takes the gift Othello gave Desdemona for their wedding and hands it over to Iago, who in his turn makes sure Cassio finds it. The irony of the play is in the fact that Desdemona confides in Emilia, and she tells Emilia about her worries regarding losing Othello’s trust and love. When Othello asks Emilia about the situation, she says that there are no signs of Desdemona’s involvement with Cassio:
“I durst, my lord, to wager she is honest. Lay down, my soul at stake: if you think other, remove your thought” (Act IV, Scene II).
In the end, Emilia denounces her husband’s plan.
Lodovico and Gratiano arrive in Cyprus in the middle of the play to bring news from the Duke of Venice. Othello behaves rudely towards Desdemona in Lodovico’s presence, even though he is one of Desdemona’s cousins. When Emilia cries for help, the ambassadors come to find Desdemona dead, they then catch Iago and appoint Cassio the governor of Cyprus.
Bianca is the beloved woman of Cassio. She doesn’t have a big role in the play and the reader meets her when Cassio gives her Desdemona’s handkerchief that he found earlier. Iago sets-up for Othello to overhear parts of Cassio’s conversations with Bianca. Iago also makes sure that Othello misinterprets the meaning of those conversations to confirm his jealousy further.
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