How did Venice treat Othello before he was dispatched to Cyprus?  

How did Venice treat Othello before he was dispatched to Cyprus?



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Noelle Matteson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Before Othello’s drastic fall from grace, the leaders of Venice treat Othello with respect. Characters refer to him as “noble” and “valiant.” The nobleman Lodovico describes Othello’s reputation before and after his dispatch to Cyprus:

Is this the noble Moor whom our full senate
Call all in all sufficient? Is this the nature
Whom passion could not shake? whose solid virtue
The shot of accident, nor dart of chance,
Could neither graze nor pierce?

Pre-Cyprus, Othello is a valued general, patient, virtuous, and “all in all sufficient.” When Brabantio accuses him of stealing his daughter Desdemona, a confident Othello declares that “My services which I have done the signiory” and “My parts, my title and my perfect soul” will absolve him. The senators side with him and Desdemona against Brabantio.

In spite of Othello’s status, his fellow Venetians sometimes harbor racism against him. His ensign Iago secretly resents Othello for a variety of reasons, though he pretends to be a close friend and fellow soldier. Othello says Brabantio “loved me; oft invited me,” yet when Othello runs off with his daughter, Brabantio proclaims that Desdemona would never “Run from her guardage to the sooty bosom / Of such a thing as thou, to fear, not to delight.” Though Othello is a recognized general, he still faces the prejudices of his society.