OthelloA Moor, and an officer in the Venetian military. He falls in love with, and marries, the delicate Desdemona, though he is middle-aged, and she is still young. Othello is bold, a good warrior, and a decent person overall; however, he is undone by jealousy and pride, his two main failings. Although Othello is very eloquent, he believes his manners and words are both rough.
DesdemonaOthello's wife, a young Venetian woman of high birth and good breeding. Desdemona is almost overly virtuous, which causes her to feel that she must defend Cassio, and speak in a public sphere when necessary. She is stronger than Othello believes her to be, and is not the private, withdrawn, meek woman he would ideally like her to be.
CassioOthello's lieutenant, though he has little field experience. Cassio is a smooth-talking, very courteous Venetian courtier, the opposite of Othello in many respects, which is why Othello admires him, oddly enough. Othello is led to believe that Cassio has had an affair with Desdemona, though Cassio has only honorable intentions toward Desdemona.
IagoOthello's ensign, and passed over for the lieutenant position in favor of Cassio. Iago is young and treacherous; he is a villain from the start, and though he cites his hurt pride over the lost promotion and Othello's alleged infidelity with Iago's wife Emilia as being reasons for his actions, he is without reasons. He is immoral, but very perceptive, keen, and able to manipulate people into falling for the traps he sets without them being aware.
EmiliaIago's wife, and Desdemona's handmaiden. She is entrusted with bringing people into Desdemona's presence, staying with her at all times, etc. Emilia has no idea what her husband Iago is up to, nor of his darker qualities. She remains loyal to Desdemona above all others, although she unwittingly plays a key part in Iago's treachery.
BrabantioDesdemona's father, a senator and renowned citizen of Venice. He is not at all pleased by Desdemona's union, and warns Othello that as Desdemona betrayed her father, she may betray her husband too.
RoderigoLusts after Desdemona, which Iago is of course aware of. Iago uses him to ruin Cassio's reputation, and in his other schemes. Iago promises Roderigo that he shall have Desdemona's love in return for his help; Roderigo actually receives nothing but a disgraced death.
Duke of VeniceRuler of the city, and Othello's superior. He allows Othello and Desdemona to stay together despite her father's protests, and also sends Othello off to Cyprus to battle the Moors.
SenatorsOther authority figures of Venice, and men of reason and order; they also support Othello and Desdemona's union, and Othello answers to them and the Duke in matters of war.
BiancaA courtesan who Cassio visits frequently; Cassio asks her to make a copy of Desdemona's handkerchief, and the fact that the handkerchief is found in her place further incriminates Cassio. She is the only female in the play whom Cassio shows less than full respect to, probably because she is a prostitute.
Montano, Governor of CyprusPronounces judgment on Iago at the end of the play, comments on the situation, and helps to wrap the play up. He is the main law and order figure of Cyprus, and serves as damage control after Othello dies, and Iago is proven unfit.
Lodovico and GratianoTwo Venetian nobles, both of some relation to Desdemona; both play their biggest part after Desdemona has died, and must take the news of the tragedy back to Venice as officials of that city.
Othello Essays and Related Content
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