by Elizabeth Roff
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence”. (Vince Lombardi). Michael Cassio is introduced as a good natured character from the dark tragedy, Othello, by William Shakespeare. Throughout the play, he continually tries to see the best in the people around him even though they are by no means angels. Although most of the characters adore him, Iago sees Cassio’s perfection as infuriating. Michael Cassio is portrayed as an almost perfect man, but despite his great attributes, Cassio’s many faults that are revealed through other’s dialogue show that he is ultimately a credulous, shallow character.
Michael Cassio is a character with faults that are made apparent through his and other character’s dialogue. Cassio is a character with great respect and high hopes for the people around him. This blind faith in his friend’s good nature causes Cassio to come across as naive. When Iago betrays Cassio, and Othello consents to his death, Cassio cannot believe that both Iago and Othello would do such a horrible thing to him. “Dear general, I never gave you cause” (V.2.351). Because he is not exposed to people, and has not experienced much of the evil in the world, Cassio is appalled by Iago and Othello’s heinous acts. Obviously, the characters of the play like him. This is apparent when Othello chooses him over the more experienced Iago, but his naivety is evident to the characters around him, causing them to take advantage of Cassio. On top of his naivety, Cassio is also a shallow character. His excessive focus on his reputation and other people’s perception of him illustrates just how shallow Cassio can be. Through his dialogue, Cassio reveals how important his reputation is to him. “O, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial” (II.3.281-283). This concern shows how conscience he is of the image he emits. Cassio also seems to be a very one dimensional character who is almost too perfect. Through Iago’s inner monologue about whether or not Cassio can live, we learn what makes Iago hate Cassio so much. “If Cassio do remain, He hath a daily beauty in his life that makes me ugly” (V.1.19-21). Cassio’s life is almost too perfect, with a beautiful wife, and having an attractiveness that is almost unfair to the people around him, Cassio’s life seems to be perfect. Another fault that he exhibits is his closeness with the prostitute Bianca. Since he is married, his association with an escort is inappropriate. Although the traditions practiced in the Elizabethan era were very different from contemporary traditions, this relationship is still questionable. Cassio’s character is rarely brought into question because of his almost stellar reputation, but his actions are that of a superficial, simple man.
Michael Cassio is a character with good intentions, but has many faults. Through the way other characters treat him and how he speaks of superficial things such as his reputation, Cassio can be seen as a shallow, naive character. Although he has some redeeming qualities, Cassio is a simplistic character with an insubstantial personality.