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Brabantio: The Racist and Sexist Father

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In Othello ,written by Shakespeare, Brabantio has different thoughts about other characters that change over time. Through Brabantio’s narrow mindedness, he decides to change his judgement on Othello based on preconceived ideas of his own daughter, and based on racial and sexist thoughts that eventually rose to his mind in the play.

Brabantio is Desdemona’s father and initially likes Othello for being great in battle and respects his character. It is until Othello decides he loves his daughter that Brabantio gets upset. Brabantio says, “My daughter is not for thee; and now, in madness, Being full of supper and distempering draughts, Upon malicious bravery, dost thou come To start my quiet.” (1.i) Initially Brabantio would invite him into his house and would respect him. Now, seeing that Othello is with his daughter, he has the want to reject him and even thinks that Othello would have had to have poisoned her to do so.  Not only does Brabantio show some characteristics of racism, but he also shows some of sexism as he thinks that Desdemona can’t make these decisions on her own. Brabantio even says,” Of spirit so still and quiet, that her motion Blush’d at herself; and she, in spite of nature, Of years, of country, credit, every thing, To fall in love with what she fear’d to look on! ( 3.i) This quote truly shows Brabantio’s thoughts towards his daughter and what he thinks she is capable of. He does not think she is capable of knowing who she loves because she is a young “innocent” women. I found this to come off as a little sexist when reading this for the first time.It is also racist due to the fact that he believes Othello is incapable because of the color of his skin!  Desdemona is also initially angry at her father for thinking she is incapable. Brabantio is mad at his daughter because he thinks Desdemona is not respecting his superiority after all he has done for her, while Desdemona is mad at him for thinking that she has no say in who she loves. Desdemona even says, “I am hitherto your daughter. But here’s my husband.”(1.iii) This quote shows that desdemona is confident in her love and knows best for herself. Brabantio even states that this is not of her personality in the past. He claims that she was such an innocent girl and maybe Othello forced this upon her. When he later finds out that it is the actual truth he later dies of grief as I explained. How could someone be so upset over their daughter’s happiness? He just seems to be in total shock. Usually, fathers like Brabantio would be out to get men like Othello after finding out about situations such as these, but Othello seems to be more laid back and disappointed in his daughter. How could she have done this to him?

These beginning scenes really embody the strong character virtues that each character holds, and lacks. This is part of the reason the story is so interesting.The play had an interesting conclusion and made me ask, “Why does Brabantio have to be so racist and sexist?”  Maybe it had to do with the time period they were living in. Brabantio seems to not try to stop the situation after he finds out that she loves him back which is interesting to me. In conclusion, the play shows the racial and sexist thoughts at the time that many believed to be moral. It even relates to some of the issues going on today. I hope to read more like it!


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