Montano in Othello: Character Analysis & Quotes

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

Sometimes it can be hard to keep track of all the characters and events in a Shakespeare play. In this lesson, we will look at the character, Montano, from William Shakespeare's 'Othello' and the role he plays in making things clear.

Captain Obvious

'Thanks, Captain Obvious.' This is probably what you would say to Montano if you were to spend time with him in real life. In William Shakespeare's play, Othello, Montano often repeats or clarifies what is going on in the play. While this might be annoying or seem strange, it actually serves a very important purpose. Montano's lines help the audience understand what is going on in case they get lost or confused. He also recaps important events or ideas.

Montano's Comment about the Storm

The first time the audience hears from Montano is when he is waiting for Othello's ship to arrive in Cypress. Montano is the governor there and will hand the position over to Othello when he arrives. While Montano is waiting for Othello, there is a storm and people are wondering if Othello will be able to navigate the waters safely.

Montano says 'Methinks the wind hath spoke aloud at land, / A fuller blast ne'er shook our battlements.'

In other words, Montano is saying that there is a bad storm outside. Before he spoke, everyone else in the room had already mentioned the storm. A few lines later, Montano also notes that since the storm is bad, the enemy ships will probably be smashed to pieces. This line serves to remind the audience that the consequences of the storm are not limited to Othello. Montano's lines also help describe to the audience what is going on. Unlike the special effects we have today, during Shakespeare's time, there were limited options for special effects so Shakespeare had to use dialogue to help the audience 'see' what was happening in the story.

Montano asks if Othello is Married

Later in the same scene, Montano asks if Othello is married. What? Wasn't this already discussed? The entire first part of the play revolves around the fact that Othello married Desdemona and how her father and Roderigo are upset by the union. However, the point of Montano's question here is to remind the audience of what's been going on. It also gives the audience an opportunity to hear from Michael Cassio. Cassio becomes very important later in the play because his polite words are used against him. When Montano asks about Othello's wife, Cassio responds:

'Most fortunately: he hath achieved a maid / That paragons description and wild fame.'

In other words, Cassio believes that Othello is lucky to have Desdemona and believes she is so lovely that it defies description.

Montano is Deceived by Iago

Like the other characters in the play, Montano ends up being used by Iago. Iago tricks Cassio into getting drunk and then tells Montano that Othello should not hire people who drink all the time.

Montano asks 'But is he often thus?'

In other words he wants to know if Cassio drinks a lot. This is an important question because it gives the audience an opportunity to see Iago's true nature. Astonishingly, because he's so sinister, Iago tells Montano that Cassio drinks himself to sleep every night despite the fact that Cassio turned down Iago's booze-fest invitation and told him that he doesn't like to drink.

Montano is Stabbed by Cassio

Later in the evening, Cassio is provoked into attacking another soldier named Roderigo. As he does this, Montano tries to calm him down. When Cassio does not settle down, Montano tries to restrain him. Cassio attacks Montano with his sword and wounds him. Othello is woken up by the racket and comes out to see what's going on. Like a group of siblings who do not want to get in trouble, the men refuse to explain who started the fight.

Finally, Montano tells Iago 'Thou dost deliver more or less than truth, / Thou art no soldier.'

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