Gratiano, Desdemona's uncle and a friend of Lodovico

After being set upon by Roderigo and wounded from behind by Iago, Cassio cries out, "What, ho! no watch? no passage? murder! murder!" (5.1.37). Cassio wants help, and he is hoping that the night watchmen (the "watch") or passers-by ("passage") will come to his aid. Two passers-by, Lodovico and Gratiano, have heard him. Gratiano says, "'Tis some mischance; the cry is very direful" (5.1.38), as though he wants to go help. However, Lodovico thinks some thugs might be trying to lure them into danger, and he advises Gratiano, "let's think't unsafe / To come in to the cry without more help" (5.1.43-44).

As Lodovico and Gratiano are trying to decide what to do, Iago reappears, looking as though he has just arisen from bed. Lodovico recognizes him, but when Iago calls out, "What are you there? come in, and give some help" (5.1.59), the two gentlemen still hang back. This gives Iago the chance to kill Roderigo under the pretence of punishing the villain who wounded Cassio. After finishing off Roderigo, Iago makes a show of looking for more villains and calling out for help. Then he asks Lodovico and Gratiano who they are. Lodovico identifies himself, and they begin to tend to Cassio's wound. [Scene Summary]

When Emilia cries out that Othello has murdered Desdemona and calls for help, Lodovico, Iago, and Gratiano answer the call. Trying to justify himself, Othello speaks to Gratiano, saying "I scarce did know you uncle; there lies your niece, / Whose breath, indeed, these hands [i.e.,Othello's own hands] have newly stopp'd: / I know this act shows horrible and grim" (5.2.201-203). Perhaps Othello feels that if he can get a member of Desdemona's family to understand, then everything will be all right. Gratiano, however, doesn't seem to be interested in listening to explanations. "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). He goes on to say that it's a good thing that Desdemona's father died (which is news to us), because if he hadn't, Desdemona's death would have made him turn against God.

Minutes later Emilia reveals the truth about the handkerchief, and Iago stabs her and runs away. Montano takes Othello's sword and gives Gratiano the job of guarding Othello while the rest chase down Iago. Othello finds another sword and demands that Gratiano, who is standing outside the door, come in. Gratiano, thinking that Othello has no weapon, opens the door, only to find himself face-to-face with an armed Othello. However, instead of trying to escape, Othello expresses his grief for the death of Desdemona.

After this, Montano returns with Lodovico, Cassio, and Iago. Gratiano has only one more line in the play. After Othello gives a speech and kills himself, Gratiano says, "All that's spoke is marr'd" (5.2.357). In the final speech of the play, Lodovico announces that Gratiano will be heir to Othello's possessions. [Scene Summary]