Brabantio, Desdemona's Father, a Senator of Venice

To make things difficult for Othello, Iago and Roderigo awaken Brabantio in the middle of the night with news of his daughter's elopement. He comes out on his balcony saying, "What is the reason of this terrible summons? / What is the matter there?" (1.1.82-83). At first he thinks that Roderigo has just gotten himself drunk and is making trouble. When Brabantio is convinced that Desdemona is gone, he feels betrayed, but also suspects that his daughter may be a victim of black magic. [Scene Summary]

"Down with him, thief!" (1.2.57) Brabantio cries to his men when he finds Othello on the street in front of the inn where Othello and Desdemona are staying. Brabantio is not able to have Othello arrested, but he accuses him of using magic and drugs on his daughter. Brabantio's reasoning is that Othello's blackness makes him such a frightening figure that there is no natural way that Desdemona would be attracted to him. When Brabantio learns that the Venetian Senate is meeting that night, he decides he will take his complaint against Othello directly to his fellow-senators. [Scene Summary]

When Brabantio and Othello come into the Senate chamber the Duke first greets Othello, who is needed to handle the situation in Cyprus, then notices Brabantio and greets him, saying, "I did not see you; welcome, gentle signior; / We lack'd your counsel and your help tonight" (1.3.50-51). Brabantio demands that his accusations against Othello be heard. At first the Duke listens with sympathy, but after hearing from Othello and Desdemona, the Duke sides with them. The Duke, however, is not able to talk Brabantio out of his anger, and as everyone is leaving the Senate chamber, Brabantio calls out to Othello, "Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see: / She has deceived her father, and may thee" (1.3.292-293). [Scene Summary]

In the midst of calling Desdemona a whore, Othello begins to weep. She asks why he is crying, and then offers her loyalty, telling him that "If haply [by chance] you my father do suspect / An instrument of this your calling back [from Cyprus to Venice], / Lay not your blame on me: If you have lost him, / Why, I have lost him too" (4.2.44-47). She is more than willing to put her love for Othello above her loyalty to Brabantio. [Scene Summary]

Over Desdemona's body, her uncle Gratiano says, "Poor Desdemon! I am glad thy father's dead: / Thy match was mortal to him, and pure grief / Shore [cut] his old thread in twain" (5.2.204-206). Gratiano goes on to say that if he had lived to see his daughter die Brabantio would have cursed God. [Scene Summary]