by Hayden Rome
In the words of Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, “The bow cannot always stand bent, nor can human frailty subsist without some lawful recreation.” In other words, there must always be someone there to maintain the control of any situation. In this play, that role is filled by Lodovico, Desdemona’s cousin. Though he seldom appears in Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello, Lodovico may very well be one of the most sane, honorable, and leaderly characters in the play.
The conflict of this play proves somewhat absurd and is interrupted at some points by the logical and lawful Lodovico. He is consistently spoken highly of by Desdemona and others, as seen in the following conversation:
Desdemona: This Lodovico is a proper man.
Emilia: A very handsome man.
Desdemona: He speaks well. (IV.iii.38-40)
Contrary to how Desdemona and Emilia feel about most men in this play, shown when Desdemona says, “O these men, these men! / Dost thou in conscience think — tell me, Emelia — / That there be women do abuse their husbands / In such gross kind?” (IV.iii.66-69), they both think well of Lodovico. They show this by using the term “proper man,” which they use when talking highly of Cassio, as well, in scene III. Lodovico’s sanity and honor show themselves when he first runs in to Othello and then asks Iago, “Are his wits safe? Is he not light of brain?” (IV.i.304). By Lodovico’s repetition of this question, this shows that he actually knows something is definitely not right with Othello, and he may very well be the only person to notice this other than Othello himself, Roderigo, and Iago. Lodovico also displays he is a confident leader who will do whatever is lawful and right. He takes charge in disarming and subduing both Iago and Othello to try to keep the situation under control after Othello had already killed one person. He then is the one who assures the audience that Iago will be duly punished for his heinous acts.
There is not much else to say about Lodovico other than he is just the sane, lawful character thrown into a complex and absurd conflict between multiple extremely irrational characters. If the situation were any different and the characters surrounding Lodovico were more normal by today’s standards, he would not stand out as much as he does in his few appearances in this play. Thus, the norm for any time period very much so determines the noticeability and importance of people.