Essay on Shakespeare's Othello - The Downfall of Othello and Cassio

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The Downfall of Othello and Cassio         

 

In Shakespeare's Othello, the characters of Othello and Cassio greatly contribute to their own downfalls. Iago sets up a treacherous trap and they fall into it. Both are innocent characters, guilty only of being too trusting of Iago. Othello and Cassio elicit sympathy from the readers. However, our sympathy for them wanes at times, because they are so gullible. Yet, it is always restored.

Iago longs to hurt Othello. He is Othello's footsoldier, an ancient, his right-hand man, and long-time friend. Iago was enraged when Othello did not promote him to lieutenant, choosing instead the handsome, young, affluent, Cassio. Iago felt that
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- Let's see. After some time to abuse Othello's {ear}. That he is too familiar with his wife. He hath a person and a smooth dispose. To be suspected, framed to make women false. The Moor is of a free and open nature That thinks men honest that but seem to be so, and will as tenderly be led by th' nose as asses are. I have't. It is engendered. Hell and night must bring this monstrous birth to the world's light" Act 1.Sc.3, 437-448).

This quote clearly illustrates that Iago purposely went about deceiving Othello and took advantage of the Moor's gullibility in affairs of the heart. The quote, simply in its tone, is proof that Iago was a rage-filled, angry man. This quote further proves Iago's cleverness and cunning.

Cassio assists in his own downfall in many ways. His first mistake occurs when he allows Iago to persuade him to drink. He does so despite the fact that he knows that he cannot handle alcohol consumption. "Not tonight, good Iago. I have very poor brains for drinking" (Act 2. Sc.3). Cassio was right. In fact he was a very violent drunk. During his drunkeness, he gets into an altercation with Montano, whom he wounds very badly. Hearing the skirmish, Othello leaves his wedding bed to investigate. He is appalled by Cassio's foolish and rash behavior, and removes him from the position of lieutenant. Iago used Cassio's low tolerance for alcohol, a fact of which he was well aware, to his own advantage. In a sense, this scene sets Iago's entire plot for vengeance

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