Othello

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Brabantio Character Analysis

A senator in Venice and Desdemona's father. At first enraged by Desdemona's elopement with Othello, he does eventually grant a grudging blessing to their marriage. But his blessing never seems heartfelt, and he dies of grief shortly after their departure for Cyprus (and before any of the tragedies of the play occur).

Brabantio Quotes in Othello

The Othello quotes below are all either spoken by Brabantio or refer to Brabantio. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Prejudice Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of Othello published in 2015.
Act 1, scene 2 Quotes
"Damned as thou art, thou hast enchanted her!
For I'll refer me to all things of sense,
If she in chains of magic were not bound,
Whether a maid, so tender, fair, and happy,
So opposite to marriage that she shunned
The wealthy curled darlings of our nation,
Would ever have, t'incur a general mock,
Run from her guardage to the sooty bosom
Of such a thing as thou—to fear, not to delight."
Related Characters: Brabantio (speaker), Othello, Desdemona
Related Symbols: Animals
Page Number: 1.2.82-90
Explanation and Analysis:

Brabantio and his men have arrived at the inn where Othello is staying. Iago has advised Othello to go inside in order to avoid a confrontation with Brabantio, but Othello has decided to stay, declaring that he is a loyal soldier and husband to Desdemona and thus he has nothing to be ashamed of. Brabantio, having learned about his daughter's marriage, accuses Othello of enchanting Desdemona and binding her in "chains of magic"; he claims there is no other explanation for why she would choose to marry Othello. He uses racist language to describe Othello, calling him a "thing" with a "sooty bosom," and saying that it would make more sense to fear him as opposed to love him. 

This speech is a pertinent example of the racial prejudice directed at Othello by the other characters. Brabantio's words reflect the widespread idea that Othello is not a normal human, but is either an animal-like "thing" or a fantastical being with supernatural powers. Note that Brabantio's horror emerges in particular from the thought of his daughter, whom he describes in terms that evoke pure white womanhood ("a maid, so tender, fair, and happy"), being intimate with Othello ("run... to the sooty bosom of such a thing as thou"). Desdemona is presented as de-sexualized, an innocent child, whereas Othello is suggested to have sinister sexual powers akin to magical enchantment. As well as indicting Othello, this idea robs Desdemona of agency; Brabantio considers it impossible that she has chosen to marry Othello of her own free will. 

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Brabantio Character Timeline in Othello

The timeline below shows where the character Brabantio appears in Othello. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 1
Prejudice Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Womanhood and Sexuality Theme Icon
Iago and Roderigo go to the house of Brabantio, a senator and Desdemona's father. They shout from the street that Brabantio has been robbed.... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Brabantio goes to search his house for his daughter, worried because he has had a "dream"... (full context)
Act 1, scene 2
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
...when he hears the things Roderigo was saying about Othello. He also warns Othello that Brabantio is likely to try to legally force a divorce between Othello and Desdemona. Othello seems... (full context)
Prejudice Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Womanhood and Sexuality Theme Icon
Just then, they see a group of men approaching. Iago says it must be Brabantio and advises Othello to go inside. Othello refuses, preferring to face them, saying he has... (full context)
Prejudice Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Womanhood and Sexuality Theme Icon
...Othello has married. But before he can say who Othello has wed, Roderigo along with Brabantio and his men arrive. Brabantio states that Othello must have enchanted Desdemona, or else why... (full context)
Prejudice Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Othello is unfazed, tells everyone on both sides to put up their arms, and informs Brabantio that he has been called to meet with the Duke on state business. Brabantio decides... (full context)
Act 1, scene 3
Prejudice Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Othello and Brabantio enter along with their men. Brabantio demands that they cease discussing state business and instead... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
...story. They send for her. As they wait for Desdemona to arrive, Othello says that Brabantio used to invite him to his house to hear his life story, with all its... (full context)
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Womanhood and Sexuality Theme Icon
Desdemona arrives. Brabantio asks his daughter to whom she owes obedience. Desdemona responds that just as her own... (full context)
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Womanhood and Sexuality Theme Icon
...defense. Though the Duke at first suggests that Desdemona stay in Venice with her father, Brabantio, Othello, and Desdemona all object, and the Duke says that she may go with Othello. (full context)
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Womanhood and Sexuality Theme Icon
Brabantio exits, but not before warning Othello to watch Desdemona—since she disobeyed her father, she might... (full context)
Act 5, scene 1
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
Lodovico enters with Graziano (Brabantio's brother). They hear the cries of pain from Cassio and Roderigo, but it's so dark... (full context)
Act 5, scene 2
Prejudice Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
...he smothered Desdemona. Graziano is shocked, and says that it is a good thing that Brabantio died from grief at Desdemona's marriage so that he did not live to see this. (full context)