Other Characters

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Othello and Desdemona are characters of some stature in the communities of both Venice and Cyprus. In their public appearances throughout the play, they are often accompanied by attendants.


Bianca is a courtesan, a prostitute, in Cyprus. She falls in love with Cassio and pursues him, an unexpected turn of events given the callousness and lack of affection usually associated with her profession. Iago is aware that Cassio is not as affectionate toward Bianca as she is toward him, and he takes advantage of the one-sided relationship. On the pretext that he is questioning Cassio about Desdemona, Iago really questions Cassio about Bianca. He does this in order to increase Othello's jealousy, as the latter stands off to the side unable to hear but able to see Cassio's cavalier and mocking attitude. When Cassio finds the handkerchief belonging to Othello and planted in his quarters by Iago, he gives it to Bianca so that she might remove its valuable stitching. This fortunate event lends itself to Iago's plan since it increases Othello's hatred of Cassio, who seemingly equates Desdemona with a common prostitute.


In a comic interlude that temporarily breaks the building tension, the clown appears and speaks to a group of musicians who have been directed by Cassio to play outside the quarters of Desdemona and Othello. The clown tells the musicians they sound nasal, alluding to the nasal damage done in advanced cases of syphilis. The clown also engages in some low-brow humor involving a "tale" and a "wind instrument" (III.i.10). The clown appears again in III.iv, punning evasively in response to Desdemona's simple inquiry as to whether or not the clown knows where Cassio lives.

Duke of Venice

See Venice

Gentlemen (of Cyprus)

When the play switches location to Cyprus, two gentlemen talk to Montano, the governor there, about the raging storm tossing the Turkish fleet. A third gentleman enters and announces that the storm has scattered the Turkish fleet, causing the Turks to abandon their intended invasion of Cyprus. He also reports that a Venetian ship has been wrecked and that Cassio worries the ship might have been the one carrying Othello. The second of the first two gentlemen identifies Iago when he disembarks. Later, armed gentlemen appear with Othello when he interrupts the fight between Cassio and Montano and chastises those two for brawling.


Gratiano is a kinsman of Brabantio. In some editions of the play, he is listed as Brabantio's brother. Other editions list him and Lodovico as two noble Venetians. Gratiano appears in the dark streets of Cyprus just after Roderigo has stabbed Cassio. He helps minister to Cassio and sort out the identities of others in the confusing darkness. He is also present when Emilia accuses Othello of killing Desdemona and when Othello is apprehended. His chief function in the play seems to be one of eliciting explanations from the other characters, providing them with the opportunity to sort out complex events. Twice near the end of the play he asks, "What is the matter?" (V.ii.172, 260).


The herald is sent by Othello to make a public proclamation: in celebration of the Turkish fleet's defeat and Othello's marriage, the populace is directed to feast, make bonfires, and dance, each man pursuing his own sport. This celebration is to continue from five to eleven that night.


Lodovico is Brabantio's kinsman. (Some editions of the play list Gratiano as Brabantio's brother and Lodovico as Brabantio's kinsman. Other editions list them both simply as two noble Venetians.) When Lodovico arrives in Cyprus, he and Othello greet one another with civil courtesy. Lodovico brings a letter from the duke of Venice, in which Othello is commanded to return to Venice immediately, Cassio taking his place of command in Cyprus. As Othello reads the letter, he overhears Lodovico ask Desdemona if the rift between the general and the lieutenant can be repaired. Desdemona is hopeful and says, "I would do much / To atone them, for the love I bear to Cassio" (IV.i.233-234). Although she means only that she is concerned for Cassio, Othello strikes her. Othello's action astounds Lodovico. When Othello leaves, Lodovico asks, "Is this the noble Moor whom our full Senate / Call all in all sufficient?" (IV.i.265-266). He wonders aloud if the letter has caused Othello to experience such a wild mood swing. Lodovico is present later when Othello is apprehended and all finally realize that Othello has killed Desdemona.


Two messengers appear in the play. The first reports to the Venetian senators that a Turkish fleet of approximately thirty ships has threatened Rhodes but has since turned and headed for Cyprus. The second messenger appears as Cassio and Montano express concern for Othello's survival on the torrid sea. He announces that all of the townspeople have gathered on the shore to keep watch of the turbulent ocean and have spotted the sail of a ship.


Montano is the governor of Cyprus. He has sent a messenger to the duke of Venice, confirming the presence of the Turkish fleet near Cyprus. He welcomes the Venetian protectors when they arrive on his isle, anxious for Othello's safety and elated when the tempest scatters the Turkish threat. As all celebrate the defeat of the Turks and Othello's marriage, Cassio must leave the celebration to go watch. Iago slyly tells Montano that Cassio is an excellent man, but not when he has been drinking. He plays on Montano's concern and suggests that Cassio is not one to whom the safety of the isle should be entrusted. Then, when Roderigo attacks Cassio and the latter cries out, Montano goes to investigate the matter. From his very recent conversation with Iago, he is predisposed to see Cassio's actions as irresponsible; he accuses Cassio of being drunk, and the two men fight, the sounding of a general alarm disrupting the peace of the isle and rousing an irate Othello from his nuptial bed. Montano is present in the later scenes in which the former confusion is sorted out.


See Clown


Officers appear in the company of both Brabantio and Othello when the two confront each other, Brabantio charging Othello with having abducted his daughter, and Othello maintaining his innocence of that charge. One of the officers confirms that the duke of Venice wants to see Othello immediately. Officers appear in the company of the duke, and the Venetian senators try to deduce the intentions of the Turkish fleet. Again, at the end of the play, officers appear with Iago in their custody after having captured the fleeing villain.


In I.iii, the duke and the Venetian senators have assembled to try and determine Turkish military intentions. A sailor enters and reports that the Turkish fleet is menacing Rhodes.


In the republican city-state of Venice, the senators were powerful men who, along with the duke, made laws and insured public welfare. In I.iii, the senators have come together to plan a way to counter the military intentions of the Turks. They have received conflicting reports of the Turkish fleet's whereabouts, first seen heading towards Rhodes and later towards Cyprus. One of the senators deduces that the Turkish move on Rhodes is just a feinting maneuver, their real target being Cyprus. This conjecture is confirmed by the messenger from Montano. The senators have sent for Othello, whose military expertise they desperately need in countering the impending attack on Cyprus. They are present when Brabantio pleads his case before the duke, arguing that Othello has bewitched and stolen his daughter Desdemona. We might imagine that they, like the duke, are not inclined to support Brabantio's suit since, under the present circumstances, Othello's services are urgently required.

Venice (Duke of Venice)

The duke of Venice is concerned about the safety of Venice and its interests in Cyprus. He and the Venetian senators have assembled to try and figure out where the Turkish fleet intends to attack. After hearing conflicting reports about Turkish intentions, it is determined that the Turks will attack Cyprus. The duke summons Othello in order to place the defense of Cyprus in his hands. But Othello is being accused by Brabantio of using witchcraft to seduce his daughter. When Brabantio and Othello are brought into the duke's presence, the duke agrees to hear Brabantio's case. Othello counters the charge that he has used witchcraft by relating how he enthralled Desdemona with tales of his suffering and his adventures. When he is done, the duke says, "I think this tale would win my daughter too" (I.iii.171). After Desdemona confirms what Othello has said to be true, the duke rules against Brabantio, something he may have been less inclined to do on an occasion when Othello's services were not so desperately needed. The duke then tries to repair the rift between Brabantio and the newly wedded couple. He says, "The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief; / He robs himself that spends a bootless grief" (I.iii.208-9). The duke is urging Brabantio to be generous and accept things he cannot change.

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