Othello Character List

Othello The play’s protagonist and hero; A christian Moor and general of the armies of Venice; eloquent and physically powerful figure, respected by all those around him; nevertheless easy prey to insecurities because of his age, his life as a solider, and his race; possesses a free and open nature
Desdemona daughter of the Venetian senator Brabantio; secretly married with Othello; stereotypically pure and meek; determined and self-possessed; equally capable of defending her marriage, jesting bawdily with Iago, and responding with dignity to Othello’s incomprehensible jealousy
Iago Othello’s ensign; villain of the play; 28 years old; motivations are never clearly expressed and seem to originate in an obsessive, almost aesthetic delight in manipulation and destruction
Michael Cassio Othello’s lieutenant; young and inexperienced soldier, whose high position is much resented by Iago; Truly devoted to Othello, Cassio is extremely ashamed after being implicated in a drunken brawl on Cyprus and losing his place as lieutenant; Iago uses Cassio’s youth, good looks and friendship with Dedemona to play on Othello’s insecurities about Desdemona’s fidelity.
Emilia Iago’s wife; Desdemona’s attendant; a cynical, worldly woman, deeply attached to her mistress and distrustful of her husband
Roderigo jealous suitor of Desdemona; young, rich, and foolish, convinced that if he gives Iago all of his money, Iago will help him win Desdemona’s hand; repeatedly frustrated as Othellos marries Desdemona
Bianca A courtesan, or prostitute, in Cyprus; Bianca’s favorite customer is cassio
Brabantio Desdemona’s father, a somewhat blustering and self important Venetian senator; as a friend of Othello, Brabantio feels betrayed when the general marries his daughter in secret
Duke of Venice The official authority in Venice, the duke has great respect for Othello as a public and military servant; his primary role in play is to reconcile Othello and Brabanzio and then to send Othello to Cyprus
Montano The governor before Othello; he recounts the status of the war and awaits the Venetian ships
Lodovico One of Brabantio’s kinsmen, acts as a messanger from Venice to Cyprus; he arrives with letters announcing that Othello has been replaced by Cassio as governor
Gratiano Brabantio’s kinsman who accompanies Lodovico to Cyprus; mentions that Desdemona’s father has died
Clown Othello’s servant; appears only in two short scenes; his appearances reflect and distort the action and words of the main plots; his puns on the word “lie”, anticipate Othello’s confusion of two meanings of that word in act 4

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