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The Lieutenant in Othello Essay

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The Lieutenant in Othello  

 
   Iago, in the Bard’s tragedy Othello, detests in an irrational way the very person of Cassio. Does Michael Cassio deserve the governorship of the island of Cyprus? What is his relationship with Bianca? Let’s look at these and other questions relating to the lieutenant in this essay.

 

David Bevington in William Shakespeare: Four Tragedies concludes that it is the “daily beauty” in the life of the lieutenant which underlies the destructive behavior of the antagonist:

 

The “daily beauty” in Cassio’s life makes Iago feel “ugly” by comparison (5.1.19-20), engendering in Iago a profound sense of lack of worth from which he can temporarily find relief only by reducing Othello and others to his own miserable condition. He is adept at provoking self-hatred in others because he suffers from it himself. (223)

 

Blanche Coles in Shakespeare’s Four Giants comments on the character of Cassio:

 

In a casual reading of Othello, it may seem that the character of Cassio is not sufficiently well drawn, because, for reasons connected with his portrayal of Iago, Shakespeare delays the full characterization of Cassio until almost the end of the play. However, we have a number of brief revelations of his personality that mark him distinctly – in his genuine anxiety for Othello’s safety, in his abstaining from taking part in the bold and suggestive comments of Iago to the two women as they wait for Othello’s ship and, a little later, in his sincere regret about the loss of his reputation after he has partaken of the wine which Iago has forced upon him. (85-86)

 

Cassio makes his first appearance in the play in Act 1 Scene 2, when he is conducting the official business of the...


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...– another emotional revelation for Michael Cassio. Finally, the ultimate emotional blow to the ex-officer comes when Othello stabs himself and dies: “This did I fear, but thought he had no weapon; / For he was great of heart.”

 

As “lord governor” of the island of Cyprus now, Michael Cassio has charge of the “censure of this hellish villain, / The time, the place, the torture.” Lodovico appeals to Cassio to let his justice, not his mercy prevail: “O, enforce it!”

 

WORKS CITED

 

Bevington, David, ed. William Shakespeare: Four Tragedies. New York: Bantam Books, 1980.

 

Coles, Blanche. Shakespeare’s Four Giants. Rindge, New Hampshire: Richard Smith Publisher, 1957.

 

Shakespeare, William. Othello. In The Electric Shakespeare. Princeton University. 1996. http://www.eiu.edu/~multilit/studyabroad/othello/othello_all.html No line nos.


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