Bianca, Cassio's girlfriend, a prostitute

Bianca is a prostitute looking for love, which she foolishly thinks that Cassio can give her. She first appears at the end of the third act, when Cassio is waiting in hopes that Desdemona might be able to bring Othello back with a decision about his job. Cassio isn't too happy to see her because he doesn't want her to be there if Othello should come back to speak with him. The first thing he says to her is "What make you from home?" But then he remembers that he probably should be nice to her, and tells a sweet lie: "How is it with you, my most fair Bianca? / I' faith, sweet love, I was coming to your house" (3.4.169-171). She replies, "And I was going to your lodging, Cassio. / What, keep a week away? seven days and nights?" (3.4.172-173). She thinks that if really loved her he wouldn't be able to stay away from her, especially for so long. And when he asks her to copy a woman's handkerchief (only we know it's Desdemona's), she gets jealous. Cassio stops being nice to her; he curses her jealousy, then tells her to copy the handkerchief and leave him alone. She again accuses him of not loving her, but she takes the handkerchief and persuades him to walk a little way with her so that they can plan their next meeting. [Scene Summary]

After baiting Othello with the idea that there is no way to get a confession out of Cassio, Iago offers to speak with Cassio while Othello, in hiding, listens to what Cassio says about his relationship with Desdemona. Once Othello has hidden himself and is out of hearing, Iago tells us, "Now will I question Cassio of Bianca, / A huswife that by selling her desires / Buys herself bread and clothes: it is a creature / That dotes on Cassio" (4.1.93-96). He predicts that talking of Bianca will make Cassio laugh, and that Othello, thinking they are talking about Desdemona, will go mad.

Everything goes according to Iago's plan. Cassio laughs at the idea that he might marry Bianca, and tells a funny little story about how just the other day at the seabank "thither comes the bauble, and, by this hand, she falls me thus about my neck" (4.1.134-135). The "thus" indicates that Cassio embellishes his story by demonstrating just how she flung her arms around him and tried to drag him away with her. Then, as Cassio is laughing at his own story, Bianca shows up with Desdemona's handkerchief. She has decided that she was a fool to agree to copy the handkerchief, and a fool to accept Cassio's story that he found it in his room. She throws it back at him, tells him that he should give it to the whore he got it from, and declares that no matter where he got it, she's not about to copy it. She says, "There; give it your hobby-horse: wheresoever you had it, I'll take out no work on't" (4.1.154-155). Then Bianca storms out, though not before telling Cassio that he can come to supper at her place if he wants. Cassio, not wanting to lose his girlfriend or his supper, follows her. [Scene Summary]

Towards the end of the scene in which Roderigo was supposed to kill Cassio, but only wounds him, and is himself killed by Iago, Bianca enters, asking "What is the matter, ho? who is't that cried?" (5.1.74). Iago sees an opportunity to divert attention from himself by casting suspicion on Bianca, so he echoes her words, "Who is't that cried?" (5.1.75), as though she is the one who knows perfectly well what's going on.

Seeing Cassio, and seeing that he is hurt, Bianca cries out, "O my dear Cassio! my sweet Cassio! O Cassio, / Cassio, Cassio!" (5.1.76-77). As she tries to comfort Cassio, Iago tends to his business. He binds Cassio's wound, calls for a chair (the kind that is carried as we carry a stretcher), pretends to be surprised that Roderigo is the dead villain, and twice more tries to throw suspicion on Bianca.

When the help that Iago called for arrives, Cassio and the body of Roderigo are taken away. Just then Emilia enters and asks what's wrong. Iago explains, of course without mentioning that he caused it all, then again tries to pin everything on Bianca. He tells Emilia to go find out where Cassio had supper, then asks Bianca, "What, do you shake at that?" (5.1.118). Bianca, however, isn't buffaloed and answers, "He supp'd at my house; but I therefore shake not" (5.1.119). And when Emilia calls her a "strumpet," she replies that she's just as honest as Emilia and Iago. Nevertheless, she has to go with Iago to answer questions.

This is the last we see of her, and she's not mentioned again. [Scene Summary]