by Catherine Ribbeck
The unwilling father who thinks no man is worthy of their daughter has long been a standard portrayal of a fatherly figure in a family. In Shakespeare’s tragedy, Othello, the Moor of Venice, Brabantio’s character is just that. Brabantio’s dramatic ways of dealing with situations and excessive concern for his daughter, as an object rather than an actual person, gives readers an appropriate understanding of him as a character.
In the very beginning, Brabantio comes across as your average person, but through his interactions with other characters, the reader can quickly see his presumptuousness. During the confusion in the first act of the play, Brabantio cannot even comprehend the fact Desdemona could go behind his back and get married, especially to Othello who is a Moor. When he confronts Othello about it he insists the only way he could have gotten Desdemona to fall in love with him is with “drugs or minerals” (I.ii.93). He sees witchcraft and potions as the only logical options because he is certain there is no way she would willingly get married. He questions “How got she out?” (I.i.191) once he figures out about the secret ceremony. He acts as if he knows where his daughter is every waking moment of the day. Brabantio felt he knew what was going on in Desdemona’s life, only to find out she got married without his knowledge. It is like he sees himself as a good father who should know what his daughter is up to, but without putting in the time to even talk to her and find out. This is a great contributing factor to what causes him to dramatize the situation far beyond what is appropriate. He thinks of Desdemona’s marriage to Othello as a crime. Brabantio treats the situation like Othello has stolen property from him, showing the objectification he gives to his daughter and women in general. He is oblivious to the fact that she is an actual person with emotions who is fully capable of falling in love with someone. Like an open book, Brabantio’s personality is shown completely through his words and views of the situations at hand. A reader could wonder if Brabantio was aware of Othello and Desdemona’s marriage plans would still be angry? Or was it the lack of knowledge he had that sparked his hot-headed outbreak?
His grieving period over the “loss” of his daughter is short-lived. The grief from losing his daughter to another man is ultimately the cause of his death.