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Baby Cassio

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by Aidan Reed

“I will ensnare a great a fly as Cassio”(II.i.165-166). Cassio is introduced as a naïve character who steps into a world of schemes and plots against him through the entirety of the play Othello: The Moor of Venice by William Shakespeare. He is a brand new military graduate who is assigned under Othello as his first assignment, and is given the position of a Lieutenant. Consequently, he is an unfortunate victim of the schemes of Iago, another choice for the position. Unknown to him, Cassio does not react to the dangers as he is still new to this world. Cassio is many things, but the most prominent view of him is his naiveté, and the other characters in the play view him as a baby.

Cassio comes to Venice as a newly graduated cadet (an inexperienced man) that quickly falls into the plots of a more experienced Iago. He is new to the world that he enters and is unsure about what is expected of him and how he should act. Iago is infuriated that Othello picked another man who has “never set a squadron in the field, / Nor the division of a battle [he] knows” (I.i.23-24). He is angry that an inexperienced man was chosen over of him for a higher position that Iago believes that he deserves; Iago also believes that Cassio was unfit for the rank as he is new to combat. Coexisting with Iago’s thoughts, Cassio makes terrible decisions that validate Iago’s lies. During a celebration, Iago kept tempting Cassio with wine, all while lying to Montano about a drinking problem that Cassio does not have, until Cassio attacks Rodrigo; if Cassio had been a more experienced soldier, he would have been able to hold his wine better and be able to avoid a situation that took away his rank. Iago continues to tarnish Cassio’s reputation by spreading a rumor that “he is too familiar with [Othello’s] wife.” (I.iii.439), and is stealing Othello’s wife from him. Cassio was not aware of the circumstances of his position with the Moor’s wife, which leads to him, once again, giving proof to Iago’s lies. All Cassio would have to do is to have had more experience with Othello and to have known him for a longer time. The play relied on Cassio being unaware to the dangers of Iago; therefore, Cassio’s greatest accomplishment to the play was his naiveté.

The characters in this play view Cassio as if he is a new born baby. Desdemona looks out for Cassio and tries to restore him to “As friendly as you were.”(III.iii.7) with Othello. But unfortunately, the rest of the characters do not also help Cassio with his inexperience. Iago, who hates Cassio for stealing his position, even uses schemes to bring Cassio and Othello down which rely on Cassio being ignorant and naïve. Othello also treats Cassio as an inexperienced officer but does not give any extra lenience; this is seen when he demotes Cassio for “striking RODRIGO” (II.iii.146 ) as he would have for any other soldier. Cassio is not viewed as a grand lieutenant but as a new baby that is not yet used to the world.

Cassio has many distinct characteristics about him but being a naïve person that is able to fall into the traps of more experienced men, is his biggest characteristic. His naiveté allowed the plot to work out as it did. Without Cassio there would be no tragedy, and without his inexperience then Cassio would have been useless to the play. Cassio is also inexperienced with the world and many of the character prey on this weakness that he has.


1 Comment

  1. haydenrome says:

    GG WP, M8. I liked your insight in calling Cassio a baby: I had never thought about this before being convinced by your paper that the connection truly is there.


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