Who Is Bianca In Othello?

Updated 30 September, 2023
Bianca is a courtesan from Cyprus. She is the jealous mistress of Cassio. Despite her brief appearance on the scene, Bianca plays a significant role in furthering Iago's plan to make Othello believe that his wife Desdemona is cheating on him with Cassio.
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Unlike the other women in Shakespeare’s Othello, Bianca is not married. Throughout the play she is described as the prostitute, however she does not agree with her reputation and says she lives honestly. Bianca is a courtesan. Courtesans were considered to be independent, they supported themselves financially and detached themselves from men.
Yet, Bianсa was different, for she was in love with Cassio. By being a prostitute alone, Bianca showed she was not your stereotypical wife in Othello. Then again, she was not your stereotypical prostitute either. Bianca expresses her rage numerous times throughout the plot. She lets her jealousy get the best of her. She assumes the handkerchief she is asked to copy in one of another woman of Cassio, which infuriates her. Bianca presented a fear to men, for they knew they could not control her. Bianca was seen as a threat to several men because of her marital status. Per Critical Survey, “ But Bianca is less than other bystander or wayfarer, witness or stray, and whether or not she is a prostitute seems less important than the fact she is situated outside of the home and on the margins of the state”. She does fit into the mold that society created for her, she allows herself to be free unlike the other women. Bianca does not hold her virginity. She is not a wife nor virgin but is still magical in the eyes of men. Bianca gets showered in gifts and money for no price. She is a character who fights her stereotype in a whole other way. Bianca's presence put Cassio’s power into question. She is not anyone’s property and that instills fear in men.

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