Montano is an honorable gentleman who leads Cyprus prior to Othello’s arrival at the island. He raises awareness among Venetians about the upcoming Turkish invasion of Cyprus. In the play, he is a positive character since he doesn’t provoke any intrigues.
Montano is the governor of Cyprus. He is the one who informs Venetia about the upcoming war with the Turkish military. Although Othello comes to replace him as the leader. Yet, Montano accepts the will of the Venetian Senate and steps down without any issues. He respects Othello because of their past relationship and remains his loyal soldier:
“Pray heavens he be;
For I have served him, and the man commands
Like a full soldier. Let’s to the seaside, ho!
As well to see the vessel that’s come in
As to throw out our eyes for brave Othello.”
(Act 2, scene 1)
At the beginning of the play, Montano is referred to as a person of high regard. Duke of Venice, when talking to Othello, speaks highly of Montano. Othello also has a positive opinion about Montano. While talking to him, the Moor demonstrates his respect and appreciation:
“Worthy Montano, you were won’t be civil;
The gravity and stillness of your youth
The world hath noted, and your name is great
In mouths of wisest censure.”
(Act 2, scene 2)
As the play unfolds, the readers learn that Montano used to be one of Othello’s soldiers. Because Montano respects the Moor and considers him to be a true leader, he passes the duties of the governor with no complaints. Although Michael Cassio is Othello’s lieutenant in Cyprus, he is incapable of completing his duties. Thus, Cassio’s lack of experience forces Montano to make crucial decisions instead of him. The lieutenant is often caught drinking. This fact angers Montano and leads to a dispute between the two.
On the night when Desdemona is killed by Othello, Montano is the one to stay on guard. When Emilia screams for help, he is the first one to react. After discovering that Iago was behind all treacherous activities, he chases the villain and captures him. Despite being mostly unnoticed, Montano serves an essential role in the play.