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Brabantio’s Grand Importance

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by Katie Erikson

Brabantio, although he is not mentioned in much of the book, is imperative to the rest of the plot of the play Othello by William Shakespeare. He is the first person to be persuaded by Iago’s tricks. He is the first on Iago’s list of people to use in his plan of revenge. If Brabantio had succeeded in refusing to let Desdemona marry Othello, Iago may have let Othello’s suffering stop there, and there would be no story, or at least no real tragedy. However, Brabantio does let Desdemona leave with Othello, letting Iago go on with his wretched plan. Without Brabantio’s allowance of the marriage of Othello and his, now rebellious, daughter, the rest of the book would not have happened the way it did.

In the beginning of Act 1, Roderigo and Iago wake Desdemona’s father, Brabantio, to tell him that his daughter has been taken. Before he realizes that what they have said is true, Brabantio is very against Roderigo, for he was one of Desdemona’s suitors. He thinks that he is just there to try to win his daughter back, and he would have nothing of that. However, after Brabantio realizes that Roderigo has told the truth, he forgives him and refers to him as “good Roderigo”(I.i. 206). From this encounter with Iago and Roderigo, Brabantio begins to see Roderigo as one he can trust, whereas he hated him before, and he begins to see Othello as a wretched thief, whereas he has seen has as a friend before. His relationships and the way he perceives people seems to change rapidly. However, the way everyone perceives him rarely changes. Everyone in the play seems to treat Brabantio with respect, for he is a noble senator, among other things. Roderigo and Othello respect him because he is the father of the woman they love. Desdemona respects him because he is her father. Even the Duke seems to treat him with respect when Brabantio comes to him. Through the beginning scenes, Brabantio seems like a man who needs real evidence in order to believe things, which contrasts highly with the other characters in the play, who seem to take Iago’s word without a second thought. For example, when Roderigo and Iago tell him that his innocent daughter is not with him, he responds with “what, have you lost your wits”(I.i. 102), meaning he did not believe a word that they were telling him. He would not believe that his beloved daughter had turned on him. This is one of the most highlighting characteristics of Brabantio. The fact that he is not as gullible as the rest of the characters makes Iago work harder to find a story that was closer to the truth in order to have Brabantio believe what he was saying. Brabantio is important in the play because Iago’s first accusation of Desdemona, and Brabantio’s reaction to this, makes Desdemona seem like a rebellious daughter; because of this, Desdemona is characterized as someone who would do something as awful as the affair that Iago said she was having. In the eyes of Othello, if Desdemona is someone who would rebel against her father, she is likely someone who would rebel against her husband as well.

Even though Brabantio’s parts in the play are minimal, his impact on the rest of the play is enormous. He gives reputations to other characters, like Desdemona, Roderigo, and Othello, as well as impacts the actions of other, such as Iago. Without knowing it, Brabantio impacts the lives of most everyone else in the play. This tells us that whatever actions that we do, it can impacts others whether or not we intend to.


1 Comment

  1. avalubetkin says:

    I agree with your analysis. I never thought about how Brabantio’s role impacted the plot in such an extreme way, but after reading this it makes a lot of sense. You did a good job making connections between Brabantio and the rest of the play as well as all of the characters. You also did a good job of making your thesis connect to the rest of the summary.


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