“I kiss’d thee ere I kill’d thee: no way but this; killing myself, to die upon a kiss”
"I am hitherto your daughter. But here's my husband and so much duty as my mother showedto yo, preferring you before her father, so much I challenge that I may profess due to the Moor my lord"
“For when my outward action doth demonstrate the native act and figure of my heart in compliment extern, ’tis not long after but I will wear my heart upon my sleeve for daws to peck at; I am not what I am.”
The play’s protagonist and hero. A Christian Moor and general of the armies of Venice, Othello is an eloquent and physically powerful figure, respected by all those around him. In spite of his elevated status, he is nevertheless easy prey to insecurities because of his age, his life as a soldier, and his race.
"Reputation, reputation,reputation! O, I have lost my reputation! I have lost theimmortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. My repuation, Iago, my reupation!"
The daughter of the Venetian senator Brabanzio. Desdemona and Othello are secretly married before the play begins. While in many ways stereotypically pure and meek, Desdemona is also determined and self-possessed. She is equally capable of defending her marriage, jesting bawdily with Iago, and responding with dignity to Othello’s incomprehensible jealousy.
"But I do think it is their husband's faults if wives do fall. Say as they slack their duties, and pour our treasures into foreign laps; or else break out in peevish jelousies, throwing restraint upon us. Or say they strike us, or scant our formerhaving in despite. Why, we have galls, and though we have some grace, yet have we some revenge. Let husbands know their wives have sense like them."
Othello’s ensign and the villain of the play. Iago is twenty-eight years old. While his ostensible reason for desiring Othello’s demise is that he has been passed over for promotion to lieutenant, Iago’s motivations are never very clearly expressed and seem to originate in an obsessive, almost aesthetic delight in manipulation and destruction.
“Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see. She has deceived her father, and may thee.”
Othello’s lieutenant. Cassio is a young and inexperienced soldier, whose high position is much resented by Iago. Truly devoted to Othello, Cassio is extremely ashamed after being implicated in a drunken brawl on Cyprus and losing his place as lieutenant. Iago uses Cassio’s youth, good looks, and friendship with Desdemona to play on Othello’s insecurities about Desdemona’s fidelity.
Iago’s wife and Desdemona’s attendant. A cynical, worldly woman, she is deeply attached to her mistress and distrustful of her husband.
Desdemona’s father, a somewhat blustering and self-important Venetian senator. As a friend of Othello, Brabiantio feels betrayed when the general marries his daughter in secret.