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Characters and Archetypes in Othello

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1 Characters and Archetypes in Othello

2 Othello He is the play’s protagonist He is a tragic hero
He is a Moor (North African) Powerful military leader Free, open, trusting character which is also his tragic flaw because it leads to his downfall in the end

3 Desdemona Secretly married to Othello
She is white, which causes problems because she ran away with a black man Very strong female character because she constantly stands up for and to Othello She is in many ways the Damsel of the play, but is put out there as a temptress as well

4 Iago Othello’s ensign (military position under Othello)
He is the villain, or shadow, of the play His personality is opposite of Othello; very manipulative and cunning and deceitful He is jealous b/c Othello chose another character (Cassio) for a promotion over him Hates women in general Has no real motivation for being a jerk, he just is one

5 Cassio Othello’s lieutenant
He was promoted instead of Iago, so Iago hates him He is kind of a ladies man He is the one who is truly devoted to Othello (best friend you could say) He would be the companion figure in the play

6 Emilia Iago’s wife and Desdemona’s attendant Loves Desdemona
Distrusts her husband b/c he is very flirty with the ladies

7 Roderigo In love with Desdemona but she refused him Jealous of Othello
Easily manipulated by Iago to do his bidding against Othello

8 Bianca A less than reputable woman in town (local prostitute)
Cassio is her favorite customer Definitely the temptress

9 Brabantio Desdemona’s father
Was Othello’s friend until he found out that Othello and his daughter were secretly married Uses Othello’s race as a reason why his daughter should not marry Othello

10 Duke of Venice The authority figure in Venice
Respects Othello for his military skills Kind of a mentor figure for Othello

11 Montano, Lodovico, and Graziano
Montano: governor before Othello Lodovico: Barbantio’s kinsman and relays messages from Venice to Cyprus. Graziano: another of Barbantio’s kinsman who travels with Lodovico

12 Brief Summary They play is set in Venice, Italy.
Currently at war, but trying to prevent it Othello is the Duke’s main military leader and sends him to Cyprus to fight Othello is married secretly to Desdemona, against her father’s approval Iago is jealous of Othello and Cassio, so he tries to break up his marriage and make Othello go mad by saying that Desdemona is unfaithful to Othello by sleeping with his best friend Cassio. Chaos ensues!

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