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An Unfortunate Fall from Glory: Cassio

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by Thomas Garrison

As Issac Newton once claimed, “Every action has an opposite reaction”, this is also true in Shakespeare’s tragedy, Othello.  Iago chooses Cassio to take a fall from fame so that he can accomplish his goal of being promoted. Once an honorable lieutenant, Iago sabotages Cassio’s reputation for his personal gain. His entire life was mere moments away from being ended for Iago’s gain. This is particularly ironic because of his great honor compared to other characters.  Cassio is an innately good person, but he is completely unaware of the evil plotting that goes on behind his back.

Cassio generally respects other characters until he is given a reason otherwise. Cassio has a lot of respect for his general, Othello. He talks about how he hopes that Othello survived the dangerous journey across the sea after they made their journey near the beginning of the play. Desdemona has respect and friendship with Cassio, but there is no romantic connection between them. She respected his rank when he was Lieutenant and she tried to convince Othello to reinstate it after he revoked it:

“Why, your lieutenant, Cassio. Good my lord, If I have any grace or power to move you, His present reconciliation take; For if he be not one that truly loves you, That errs in ignorance and not in cunning, I have no judgment in an honest face:I prithee, call him back.”(III.iii) Iago has an irrational hatred for Cassio, but he hides this from him as to not arouse suspicion. He is jealous of his ranking and wants to bring him down. Roderigo is fairly neutral towards Cassio, but he doesn’t hesitate to help Iago in his plan to frame him. Cassio has a sense of respect for his duties and wants to go to his watch, even after he had been drinking. Iago convinces Roderigo to insult Cassio and provoke a fight, so even though Cassio wouldn’t have hit Roderigo under normal circumstances, he defends his honor when Roderigo provokes him first. Cassio values his reputation above many other things, and he was devastated when Othello stripped him of his position. Cassio is respectful towards the clown, even though they are from totally different social classes. He doesn’t feel a need take advantage or be rude towards him. This shows that he is a truly good person. Othello obviously has confidence in his leadership skills, but he does not have much faith in Cassio’s character, especially after he was seen attacking Roderigo. He is quick to believe Iago’s story, and doesn’t think that Cassio is likely to be innocent. Although he never directly confronts Cassio, he wants Iago to kill him: “Within these three days let me hear thee say That Cassio’s not alive.”(III.iii) Cassio is oblivious to the scheme that Iago and Othello are hatching behind his back, so he is not quick to judge the true natures of them, but he felt betrayed more than anything else after learning about everything that happened: “Dear general, I never gave you cause.”(V.ii)

Othello is a character with more honor than most of the other characters in the play, but his ignorance nearly led to his death.  He managed to remain oblivious to all of the planning that Iago was doing behind his back.  He didn’t recognize that Roderigo’s provocation was the result of Iago’s encouragement, he was more focused on begging for his position and he didn’t bother to realise what was going on around him.


1 Comment

  1. talls125 says:

    This is a great essay! I love the comprehensive analysis of the relationships between Cassio and the rest of the cast. It is clear you put a lot of work in to this essay, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.


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