Duke of Venice: In hearing Brabatio’s accusations against Othello, the duke of Venice realizes that Desdemona, indeed, loves Othello and wisely counsels Brabantio to accept the Moor as his son-in-law. He also sends Othello to Cyprus to command the island’s defense against the Turks.
Brabantio: Desdemona’s father and probably a racist, Brabantio objects to his daughter’s marriage to Othello because of his race and his lower social position. In Brabantio’s eyes, eligible suitors for Desdemona would probably have been limited to sons of no more than fifty families of the Venetian aristocracy.
Gratiano: A noble Venetian, Gratiano is a brother of Brabantio.
Lodovico: Another noble Venetian, Lodovico is a kinsman to Brabantio.
Othello: A Christian Moor who is fighting as a hired general for the city of Venice, Othello is noble, proud, and ultimately jealous. By secretly marrying Desdemona, he incurs the wrath of her father—which is soothed somewhat when the duke rules in Othello’s favor. However, when he incurs the wrath of Iago, partly because he passed over him in granting promotions and partly because of Iago’s dark nature, his life begins to come apart. He eventually murders his wife and kills himself, all because of Iago’s misinformation and that “green-eyed monster,” jealousy.
Cassio: Othello’s lieutenant, Cassio was promoted to that position even though Iago had coveted it for some time. Thus, he becomes one of Iago’s many enemies and dupes; and Iago convinces Othello that Cassio is Desdemona’s lover.
Iago: Othello’s villainous ensign, Iago is ambitious and evil and, as the play opens, swears eternal revenge on Othello for promoting Cassio to the army position he had hoped for. To do so, he convinces Othello that his wife, Desdemona, is untrue to him. He is a master at manipulating appearances so that they seem real, and everyone about him accepts him as the standard of sanity and blunt common sense, as “honest Iago.” He is usually considered Shakespeare’s most genuine villain.
Roderigo: Desdemona’s rejected suitor, Roderigo becomes one of Iago’s dupes as he works his treachery.
Montano: The governor of Cyprus, Montano is a trusted and valiant servant of the duke of Venice.
Clown: A servant of Othello
Desdemona: The “gentle” daughter of Brabantio and the “true and loving” wife of Othello, Desdemona represents the ideal of womanhood. She is captivated by Othello’s strength and charm and secretly marries him, only to be trapped in Iago’s web of deceit and murdered by her misled husband.
Emilia: The wife of Iago and the personal maid of Desdemona, Emilia is also unwittingly manipulated by Iago to bring about his villainy.