FORSTER ENGLISH II

FORSTER ENGLISH II

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O Reputation O Reputation

Michael Cassio is an attractive and good looking Florentine, referred to as a “proper man” (I.3.435) by Iago in the first act of the play. Despite his young age and the fact that he has no real field experience, Cassio seems to be a responsible, brave, and  well-disciplined soldier enough to be handpicked by Othello as a lieutenant. He also appears to have a good sense of virtue as he laments the loss of his reputation after he stabs Roderigo and loses his lieutenancy when Iago gets him drunk: “Reputation, reputation, reputation! Oh, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial“ (2.3.280-283). Cassio is also a loyal soldier who respects and praises his general Othello as “so good a commander” (2.3.297). In addition, the loyalty and trust appear to be reciprocal since Othello entrusts his love letters between Desdemona and himself during their brief courtship to Cassio. In fact, his loyalty, ability, and responsibility are so well-known that the senators and the Duke in Venice decide to make Cassio a new governor in place of Othello Scene 4 Act 1 .

However, while he is generally a good soldier, he has his weaknesses. First, with his “handsome, young” face, and “all those requisites…that folly and green minds look after” (2.1.267-269), he has issues regarding women despite the fact that he is “almost damned in a fair wife”(1.1.22) back home. Despite the fact that he is in a marriage, he finds pleasure in other women including Bianca, a prostitute. Indeed, he is so intimate with Bianca that she is heartbroken to find out that he does not plan on marrying her in the end. Secondly, Cassio has a problem with alcohol in that he has low tolerance for alcohol when he refuses the drink that Iago offers to Cassio because he has a “I very poor and unhappy brains for drinking” (2.3.34-35). He does not drink more than a glass of wine mixed with water as a rule which is why Othello trusts Cassio to take care of the guests ; however, when he does at Iago’s trickery, he loses his ability to think properly as seen when he gets drunk by Iago’s manipulation and attacks Roderigo and Montana.

Cassio is an important character in Othello because he is a key part in Iago’s plan to destroy the lives of Desdemona and Othello. When Cassio becomes Othello’s lieutenant instead of Iago even when “the three great ones of the city, in personal suit to make [Iago] his [Othello’s] lieutenant”(1.1.9-10), believing that he has been cheated, Iago begins to hate Cassio. An evil genius beyond comparison, Iago uses Cassio’s positive qualities such as his handsome face and trusting personality as well as his bad characteristics such as his alcohol and women problems to go through with his plan.

Iago, the Devil

by Anna Reckling

In Othello Iago is an important character that has very different relationships with all the characters. Iago’s relationships appears real and truthful, even though Iago is being fake and is using them. Iago uses Roderigo for his plan to bring Othello down. In doing so he has to build trust with Othello, but he does so by telling him lies. Iago even uses his own wife for his plan. Iago uses his relationships with Emilia and Roderigo for his own selfish motives of bringing Othello down.

Othello and Iago’s relationship is built off of lies. Iago wants revenge on Othello, but Othello does not know. He trusts Iago and thinks he is trying to be his friend. He listens to his advice and even calls him Honest Iago (1.3.336-337) “ ‘Tis he! O brave Iago, honest and just,” (5.1.34) Othello believes Iago when he says his wife, Desdemona, is cheating on him with Cassio. He questions it and asks for proof but Iago tells Othello more lies. Even though Othello trusts Iago, Iago does not like Othello. Iago is infuriated by the rumors of Emilia, his wife, sleeping with Othello. Or at the promotion of Cassio, and not him. Iago’s emotions cause him to plot Othello’s downfall. In order to bring Othello down, Iago uses Roderigo as his puppet to implant lies in Othello’s head. Rodrigo gets upset and frustrated that Iago uses him but Iago is still able to reel Rodrigo back in. Iago says he will help Roderigo end up with Desdemona. At the end of the book Iago is done using Roderigo. As Iago kills his puppet, he screams out, “O damned Iago! O inhuman dog!” (5.1.74) Roderigo finally sees that Iago is not who he says he is. Emilia, Iago’s wife, is the one person who sees that Iago is not a kind loyal friend. Iago, like Roderigo, uses Emilia to help him trick Desdemona and Othello. When Iago heard about the Othello and Emilia having an affair he became very angry but does not have a hard time believing this rumor. Throughout the play he seems to imply that Emilia is a whore, whether she really is on or not. Iago disrespects Emilia, yet she still tries to please him, “I nothing but to please his fantasy,” (3.3.343). Emilia tries to please Iago, but he still acts like the devil he is and masterminds his plan to bring Othello down. Emilia finally stands up for herself, when she sees that her mistress, Desdemona, is dead. That only leads to Iago stabbing and killing her. These relationships and actions reveal things about Iago that seem devilish. In the play there are times where Iago even admits to being devilish. “Directly to his good? Divinity of hell! / When devils will the blackest sins put on,/ They do suggest at first with heavenly shows, /As I do now” (2.3.370-374)

Iago uses his own wife and friend to help bring down Othello. Othello, someone who trusted him gets betrayed. Rodrigo someone who helped him implant lies, gets used and ends up dead. Lastly, even his own wife who tried to please him, ends up dying at the sword of her own husband. We the readers wonder, is Iago really doing all of this out of pure jealousy? Or is he doing this because he is purely evil?

An “Honest” Liar

by Addison Spier

Webster’s dictionary defines being two-faced as “ not honest or sincere : saying different things to different people in order to get their approval instead of speaking and behaving honestly.” Iago is an extremely guileful, evil, manipulative and two-faced character in the play Othello, written by William Shakespeare. To other characters in the play, he seems to be a kind and honest man; we the readers know and understand the true, hateful Iago. We quickly see Iago’s two-facedness at the start of the play. Iago explains to Roderigo that he plans to take advantage of Othello, saying, “O sir, content you./ I follow him to serve my term upon him./ We cannot all be masters, nor all masters/ Cannot be truly followed (…) I’m following him, I follow but myself./ Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,/ But seeming so, for my peculiar end (…) I am not what I am.” (I.i. 45-68). Iago explains that he acts good to Othello in order to trick him, which sets us up for the rest of the play.

Iago’s manipulative skills show his two sides to the audience throughout the play, while the other characters only get to see is false side; his kind and honest side. Othello grows to love and trust Iago and truly believe he is an honest man. Iago seems so innocent and kind; nobody would expect him to be as evil as he is. Othello repeatedly refers to Iago as honest and good, and this reputation, that Iago made everyone believe, is what really helped him to carry out his plan for as long as he did. Iago, in a way, blinds Othello with his lies. Othello is not able to consider that Iago could be lying because he quickly trusts him so much. At the end of the play, right after he kills Desdemona, Othello explains to Emilia why he did this horrible, sickly deed. He tells her it is because her husband told him what she did; Emilia knows it isn’t true. He tells Emilia, “He, woman./ I say thy husband. Dost understand the word?/ My friend, thy husband; honest, honest Iago.” (V.ii.187-189). As readers who know exactly what is going on, it is hard to understand how people see him as a good man. Iago carries so much hatred towards most of the other characters. We can see his jealous side through the hatred as well. His negative feelings towards the other characters is what causes him to take action the way he does. He hates Othello for allowing Cassio to be lieutenant, and he hates Cassio for taking his spot as lieutenant; he is jealous of him. He doesn’t care about anybody but himself, and will do anything to get what he wants and thinks he deserves.

We as readers are able to see the light, “honest” and “good”, and dark, evil and manipulative, sides of Iago and we know that he is not the honest and good Iago that the other characters see him as. He may be able to fool them, but he can’t fool us. We see his true self as he talks to the audience and lets us in on what is really going on. He is smart with his work, and knows exactly what to do and how to do it in order to reach his goal.

 

Emilia: The Wise One

By: Crafton Deal

Emilia is a strong willed, independent character that relates a really unique message in the story of Othello. She is a quintessential role for a powerful female character in Othello. Emilia’s maturness and wiseness provides a confidence for Desdemona throughout her struggles in the play, pertaining to the treatment of wives from their husbands.

We are first introduced to her in Act II, and our first impression is quite uncomfortable. It is an awkward and rude scene between her, Cassio, and Iago. When Cassio greets Emilia by kissing her hand, Iago makes a snarky remark. He stated, “Sir, would she give you so much of her lips/ As of her tongue she oft bestows on me/ You’d have enough” (II.i.100-102). As readers, we saw this as Iago insinuating that all Emilia does is yell at him. It was a complete put-down, and it made me feel sympathetic towards Emilia. Instead of taking it, she retaliates by saying “You have little cause to say so/ […] You shall not write my praise” (II.i.107,115). She is standing up for herself by saying that her husband has no reason to put her down, and calls him out by saying he has nothing good to say about her. It is admirable of Emilia’s character to be able to speak up for herself, especially as a woman in this time period. We as readers also see this scene as an indication of a strained relationship between her and her husband. Throughout the story, we see her and Iago’s tense relationship in several scenes. Her feeling towards Iago is negative (this is shown in the willow scene). Emilia feels very close to Desdemona, despite her action of keeping the handkerchief from her. Emilia treats Desdemona almost as a younger sister.  This sisterhood feeling towards Desdemona is exemplified when Othello asks Emilia about an affair between Desdemona and Cassio. In Act IV scene ii, Emilia stands up for Desdemona by telling Othello that Desdemona is not having an affair with Cassio.

The best and most famous of Emilia’s scenes would be the willow scene. In Act IV scene iii, Emilia and Desdemona are having a conversation in the bed chamber of Othello and Desdemona. The friendship between these characters is an almost sisterly love that generates a lot of discussion and ideas. In this scene, they are discussing whether or not women cheat on their husbands. She explains “Let husbands know/ Their wives have sense like them: they see and smell/ And have their palates both for sweet and sour…” (IV.iii.92-94). Emilia states a speech that basically explains how men need to understand women have the same feelings and passions as men do. She justifies the fact that women are equal to men. Men and women see and smell the same. This feminist ideology would have been so rare in Elizabethan times. Shakespeare’s Emilia was both revolutionary and original. People during this time period learned the same lesson that we can learn today: men and women are in fact equal. Readers have contemplated how Shakespeare created this character of Emilia to teach what was, at the time, a very unique lesson.  This exemplifies how creative and revolutionary Shakespeare was. Despite the put-downs and struggles Emilia goes through as a woman in the play, she still holds a determined and passionate stature. This passion and determination not only helps herself, but helps teach Desdemona important lessons.

Emilia’s importance to the story of Othello is so significant. Each reader can learn and take very important messages with them after getting to know Emilia. She is one of the most recognized characters throughout all of shakespeare’s work. Desdemona’s ability to confide in Emilia shows precious moments of sisterhood. As a whole, Emilia shared with the audience that men and women are equivalent with one another.

Injurious Iago

By Will Langford

Iago is a cunning character that effortlessly deceives the characters of Othello, as he is trusted by the clueless and he manipulates the ones in power in his favor. The reader is especially able to view Iago’s true sentiment in his soliloquy when he addresses the audience and declares his resentment of the moor; a hatred that eventually brings the abrupt downfall of the characters of Othello.

Due to Iago’s compassionate words and his ability to be two faced, he easily infiltrates the minds of the characters of Othello and asserts himself as the puppet master of the naive and vulnerable. Iago detests nearly every character of Othello, as he refers to Othello  and others in a derogatory manner. When Iago calls Othello the moor this is especially derogatory as Iago is only seeing Othello at face value; which in this case is the color of his skin. Iago is also willing to blatantly relay his disgust towards the moor in his soliloquy seen in this passage: ”I hate the Moor:/ And it is thought abroad, that ‘twixt my sheets/ He has done my office” (I.iii.381- 382). This shows Iago’s unrestrained hatred and his willingness to implicate Othello in something that’s only hearsay. Iago equally has ill feelings for his wife, Emilia, as he introduces her to the audience the first the audience sees her with a blatant put down, “Sir, would she give you so much of her lips/ As of her tongue she oft bestows on me,/ You’ll have enough” (II.i.100- 102). This quip from Iago says that he believes that Emilia is constantly berating him. Emilia is frustrated with her husband and the poor state of their marriage, although unlike Iago she desires for their marital relationship to improve. Emilia does this by deciding to trust Iago’s intentions and gives him Desdemona’s handkerchief that Othello gave to her. Iago is even able to trick his wife who knows more about his true face than most of the other characters. Iago deceives every character due to their untarnished image of him, yet Iago must be a persuasive and charismatic character to be able to successfully mislead his wife, who is not unaware of Iago’s bitter side who seems to be a pragmatic character. On the other hand, the other characters, excluding Iago and Emilia, adore Iago for his seemingly honest and compassionate nature, as proven by references to him as “honest Iago.” The audience would never conclude that Iago is honest since the text blatantly shows his deceiving nature. However, it is evident that the characters are oblivious to Iago’s real sentiment due to their references of Iago as honest. Othello especially believes that Iago is a credible source, as he presses him for information by saying, “What is the matter, masters?/ Honest Iago, that look’st dead with grieving,/ Speak, who began this? on thy love, I charge thee” (II.iii.170- 172). Exhibited in the text, the most important quality of Iago is definitely his duplicity. Roderigo knows Iago’s actual diabolic nature, and he is the only one privileged to this side of Iago. Shakespeare clearly intended for this quality to be highlighted by Iago’s reference to Janus, the two faced god. Iago, as well, was written to have two faces; one of honesty and compassion, and another of vehement and resentment.

Iago’s ability to create two faces of polar sentiments is how he creates an image of himself that is perceived as honest and allows him to infiltrate the minds of Othello. We, the readers, are aware of his knack for his treachery and being known as an honest man, yet the characters are tragically not aware, and even Emilia is able to be convinced that Iago has redeemable intentions, as Iago is truly capable of powerful influence and deception.

 

O Reputation O Reputation

by Hany Kim

Shakespeare’s tragedy, Othello, shows how love and jealousy can be deadly when it put together. One of the most important characters in this book is Michael Cassio. Cassio’s views on reputation and of himself leads to him being used by Iago to drive his plan forward. Cassio is too trusting of Iago, which leads to the tragedy that is the collateral damage of the plan. It is understood that the people back at Venice generally seem to take a liking to Cassio, especially the Duke of Venice and the senators, since Cassio is appointed the governor of Cyprus at the end of the play. He has his issues with alcohol and his many relationships with multiple women not his wife back home. Despite his flaws, he is still a loyal and talented soldier as shown as he reveres his general, Othello.

Cassio is an attractive and good looking Florentine, referred to as a “proper man” (I.iii.435) by Iago in the first act of the play. Despite his young age and the fact that he has no real field experience, Cassio seems to be a responsible, brave, and  well-disciplined soldier enough to be handpicked by Othello, a revered general in Venice and abroad, as a lieutenant. He also appears to have a good sense of virtue as he laments the loss of his reputation after he stabs Roderigo and loses his lieutenancy when Iago gets him drunk: “Reputation, reputation, reputation! / Oh, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial“ (II.iii.280-283). He is saying that without a good reputation, you will be infamous, known but not in a good way, or worse: not being known or remembered at all. Cassio is also a loyal soldier who respects and praises his general Othello is “so good a commander” (II.iii.297). Even when Othello fired Cassio, he still reveres his former general, as Cassio has so much respect for Othello. In addition, the loyalty and trust appear to be reciprocal since Othello entrusts his love letters between Desdemona and himself during their brief courtship to Cassio. In fact, his loyalty, ability, and responsibility are so well-known that the senators and the Duke in Venice decide to make Cassio a new governor in place of Othello.

However, while he is generally a good soldier, he has his weaknesses. First, with his “handsome, young” face, and “all those requisites…/ that folly and green minds look after” (II.i.267-269), he has issues regarding women despite the fact that he is “almost damned in a fair wife”(II.i.22) back home. Despite the fact that he is in a marriage, he finds pleasure in other women like Bianca, a prostitute. Indeed, he is so intimate with Bianca that she is heartbroken to find out that he does not plan on marrying her in the end. Iago uses this flaw to use this flaw against Othello by convincing him that Cassio is indeed sleeping with Desdemona. Secondly, Cassio has a problem with alcohol in that he has low tolerance for alcohol: “I [Cassio]  have very poor and unhappy brains for drinking” (II.iii.34-35). He does not drink more than a glass of wine probably mixed with water as a rule; however, when he does at Iago’s command, he loses his ability to think properly as seen when he get drunk by Iago’s manipulation and attacks Roderigo and Montana.

Cassio is an important character in Othello because he is a key part in Iago’s plan to destroy the lives of Desdemona and Othello. When Cassio becomes Othello’s lieutenant instead of Iago even when “the three great ones of the city, in personal suit to make [Iago] is [Othello’s] lieutenant”(1.i.9-10), believing that he has been cheated, Iago begins to hate Cassio. An evil genius beyond comparison, Iago uses Cassio’s good qualities such as his handsome face and trusting personality as well as his bad qualities such as his alcohol and women problems to go through with his plan.

Blogging the Bard:Desdemona

by Johnny Butler

All marriages are tested at some point, but Shakespeare’s Othello portrays the tragedy of a young woman’s unwavering love for an older military man that questions her love.  Throughout the play, Desdemona proves she is loving, caring, and loyal to both her husband and friends.  

Othello first mentions Desdemona when talking to Iago about his love for her and how he won her over with love rather than witchcraft or potions.  Desdemona shows her love for Othello when she tells her father, in front of the Duke, that Othello is her husband and she loves him. “I am hitherto your daughter. But here’s my husband”(I.iii.213). Othello expresses how much he loves Desdemona in the beginning of the play “But that I love the gentle Desdemona”(I.ii.28).  Iago believes that Desdemona made a mistake marrying Othello and she will regret her choice the older Othello gets.  Iago and Desdemona do not seem to get along very well when they meet on the boat.  When Othello lands in Cyprus, Desdemona is excited to see him showing her love is still strong “The heavens forbid But that our loves and comforts should increase, Even as our days do grow!”(II.i.210).  Othello and Desdemona show how much they love one another when they see each other after being separated.  Since Iago wants to get revenge on Othello, his plan is to have Desdemona and Cassio fall in love;  this shows he somewhat dislikes Desdemona by trying to ruin her marriage to Othello.  In Act II, Othello still shows his love for Desdemona continues: “And this, and this, the greatest discords be that e’er our hearts shall make.”(II.i.216-217)  He also shows how much he cares for her when Montano is stabbed by Cassio because he does not lose his temper in front of her.  

 Throughout the play, Desdemona also demonstrates she is caring and loyal to her friends and her husband.  After Cassio is stripped of his rank, she promises to beg Othello until he gives Cassio another chance, “If I do vow a friendship, I’ll perform it To the last article: my lord shall never rest”(III.i.23-24).  Cassio is close enough with Desdemona that he uses her to help change Othello’s mind.  Later, Cassio comes to ask Desdemona whether Othello changed his mind, and Desdemona again promises to keep trying.  Desdemona shows once more that she cares about Cassio when she is unhappy he has not gotten his position back: “A most unhappy one: I would do much To atone them, for the love I bear to Cassio.”()  Desdemona also shows she cares for her friend Emilia when she comes to her with advice about Othello, and Emilia helps her out.  Similarly, Desdemona proves she is caring and loyal to Othello when she tends to his needs while he is sick.  By taking care of him, she shows her love for her husband even though he has started to question her honesty due to lies from Iago.  Othello starts to lose his trust when Desdemona lost his handkerchief, and he starts to think that Desdemona does not love him. On the the other hand, Desdemona feels very bad about her mistake and wonders where she could have lost it.  “Then would to God that I had never seen’t!”(III.iv.90) The handkerchief scene shows that Desdemona still deeply cares about Othello even though he does not think that she does.

The turning point in the play is when Iago has gotten Othello to believe that Desdemona has cheated on him with Cassio. This part of the book shows Othello starting to doubt his love for Desdemona.  But Desdemona shows her deep love and loyalty to Othello, trying to get his attention until he slaps her and she starts to wonder why he is so mad.  Othello is enraged when he sees Bianca with the handkerchief, “I would have him nine years a-killing. A fine woman! a fair woman! a sweet woman!”(IV.i.197)  In this quote Othello shows his anger and hate towards Desdemona; he wants to kill her.  Act 5 Scene 2, Desdemona asks for mercy as Othello is talking about killing her. Right before Othello kills her, Desdemona tells him that she has never cheated on him and never loved Cassio, but she has truly loved Othello the entire time.  After Othello hears that his wife did not cheat on him, he kills himself and asks to die with a kiss as he lays by Desdemona, showing that he regrets not loving and trusting her as much as he should have.