William Shakespeare

circa 1603–1604

a synoptic, alphabetical character list


Cassio's mistress. Cassio gives her Desdemona's handkerchief to take out and have copied. She initially agrees, but later returns and flings the handkerchief at him. She suspects that the handkerchief is a love token from another woman. It is Bianca that Othello overhears Cassio boasting about to Iago, but Iago manipulates the conversation so Othello believes Cassio is trumpeting his conquest of Desdemona.


Father to Desdemona. He initially suspects Othello of witchcraft when he discovers Othello and Desdemona's secret marriage. After he is forced to accept the circumstances of the marriage, he still claims that he was deceived by his daughter, and warns Othello to beware of her. We later learn from Gratiano that Brabantio has died from grief.


Lieutenant to Othello. Iago claims Cassio was appointed over him. He becomes the instrument of Iago's revenge, and Othello is made to suspect him of being Desdemona's secret lover. He enters into a drunken fight with Montano and is punished by Othello. Later he defends himself against Roderigo's attack and is wounded. At end of play Cassio is left in charge of Cyprus.


Daughter to Brabantio and wife to Othello. She marries Othello without her father's knowledge. After Cassio is punished by Othello, he goes to her (encouraged by Iago) to plead his case before her husband. She begs Othello to forgive Cassio. Iago leads Othello into misinterpreting her intercessions on his behalf and convinces Othello that she and Cassio are lovers. She loses her handkerchief, which is picked up by Emilia and given to Iago who gives it to Cassio. That token in Cassio's hand becomes the evidence that convinces Othello that Desdemona is unfaithful. Even though she declares her innocence, Othello strangles her in her bed.


Along with Senators of Venice, he sends Othello to Cyprus to defend it against the Turks. He first hears Brabantio's accusations of witchcraft against Othello. When Desdemona testifies that the warrior's stories won her heart, the Duke is convinced and says that such stories would likely win his own daughter's love and so dismisses Brabantio's complaint.


Wife to Iago and attendant to Desdemona. She finds Desdemona's handkerchief and steals it for her husband. She initially denies knowledge of the handkerchief, but, at the end of the play, after Desdemona has been murdered, she implicates Iago in the plot against Desdemona and tells of her role in the theft of the handkerchief. Iago murders her.


Brother to Brabantio. Along with Montano he answers Emilia's calls for help and discovers the murdered Desdemona.


Othello's ancient, he claims that Othello should have appointed him lieutenant instead of Cassio. He orchestrates the violence, jealousy and murder in the play. He dupes Roderigo into following his commands by claiming to be able to secure Desdemona for him. He encourages Cassio to drink, thus prompting Cassio's drunken brawl with Montano, which loses his favor with Othello. He convinces Cassio to have Desdemona beg for his forgiveness from Othello, furthering Othello's suspicions of her fidelity. He converses with Cassio about Bianca in Othello's hearing, making Othello believe they are speaking of Desdemona. Throughout the play he convinces Othello that Desdemona and Cassio are having an affair. After being implicated by Emilia, his wife, he kills her. He refuses to speak to his captors and is taken away to be tortured at play's end.


Kinsman of Brabantio who travels to Cyprus with a message from the Duke of Venice instructing Othello to return and leave Cassio in charge of Cyprus. He is shocked when he sees Othello strike Desdemona. He recovers letters from Roderigo's pockets that incriminate Iago.


Respected man of Cyprus with whom Cassio fights. He is one of the gentlemen who rushes in to discover Desdemona slain.


Husband to Desdemona, he is a Moor and a soldier for Venice. He is sent to Cyprus to defend it against the invading Turks. He punishes Cassio for his drunken fight with Montano. Trusting Iago, he is led to believe that his wife has been unfaithful with Cassio. After seeing Bianca throw the handkerchief that he gave to Desdemona in Cassio's face, he believes he has sufficient evidence to act. He strangles Desdemona in their bed, and only later learns the truth from Emilia, that Desdemona is innocent and that Emilia herself gave the handkerchief to Iago. He slays himself.


Failed suitor of Desdemona's. He follows Iago's commands hoping to win Desdemona. He initiates the fight in which Cassio fights Montano, and he fecklessly attempts to kill Cassio. Iago kills him.


Along with the Duke, they assess the threat of a Turkish invasion against Cyprus and decide to send Othello there.