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Brabantio: The First Step

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by Isabel Gardner,

Brabantio is the first character that sows the seed of doubt in Othello’s mind, by stating at the end of the first act, “She has deceived her father, and may thee.” He is an important figure in Venice, a senator, and also Desdemona’s father, which makes him a central part of the play even if he does not appear much. However, he sees himself as more important than others see him, and he looks down on his family and his court. 

Brabantio feels as if others are less significant than him. It is clearly shown in the first act that although Brabantio is protective of his daughter, it is because he sees her as a possession. He does not really understand her, which is shown from the way he interprets her feelings toward Othello when he says, “To fall in love with what she fear’d to look on! It is a judgment maim’d and most imperfect”. He believes that she fears Othello, which is proof that he barely understands her true feelings. However, he looks down on people outside his family as well, such as Roderigo, when he says “My daughter is not for thee”.

However, others know that Brabantio does not have much worth in the court because he does not offer much service to the state, unlike Othello. Othello knows that he is more important to the state than Brabantio when he states, “Let him do his spite: My services which I have done the signiory / Shall out-tongue his complaints.” Also, even though Brabantio accuses Othello of kidnapping and drugging his daughter, the Duke does not seem to care much about the fact that this may have happened, but about the fact that Othello may not be able to fight for Venice. Therefore, he calls up Desdemona and tries to hush Brabantio. Brabantio does not understand his importance and overestimates his power.

Although Brabantio is a senator, he believes himself to be more powerful than he actually is. He clearly believes that he will easily accuse Othello of kidnapping Desdemona with very little evidence when he says “I therefore apprehend and do attach thee / For an abuser of the world, a practiser”. He also believes that Desdemona will be more obedient to him when she is called before the court when he then asks her “Do you perceive in all this noble company / Where most you owe obedience?” However, Desdemona replies that she is more loyal to Othello, despite being thankful for her father.

In the end, Brabantio is silenced by his daughter and the Duke. Not many readers would initially like him because of his condescending nature; however, it is undeniable that his presence sets up the plot for Othello. His decision to call Desdemona to the court is what eventually allows Iago’s plan to succeed, and that has made all the difference.


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