Cassio in Othello: Character Analysis & Quotes

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  • 0:00 Introducing Cassio
  • 0:52 Character Analysis
  • 2:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Shamekia Thomas

Shamekia has taught English at the secondary level and has her doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

Expert Contributor
Ginna Wilkerson

Ginna earned M.Ed. degrees in Curriculum and Development and Mental Health Counseling, followed by a Ph.D. in English. She has over 30 years of teaching experience.

Cassio is a minor character who plays a major role in William Shakespeare's ''Othello''. Read this lesson to learn more about Cassio and how his friendly and naive nature makes him a target of manipulation.

Introducing Cassio

Imagine being caught in the middle of a love triangle of which you are unaware. Imagine someone lying about your intentions and your behavior without your knowledge. Imagine losing your job and having your name tarnished because of something you did not do. How would you handle the situation? What would you do to clear your name?

The character Cassio from William Shakespeare's play Othello is faced with this dilemma after an envious man becomes upset over Cassio's new role as a lieutenant. Iago develops a plan to destroy the marriage of his enemy Othello and ruin Cassio's life and reputation in the process. Cassio has no idea he is being targeted and tries to get Desdemona, the wife of his boss, the general Othello, to help him get his job back after he loses it. By seeking the help of the general's wife, Cassio naively plays into Iago's plan to destroy his life.

Character Analysis

Cassio is a soldier in the Venetian army. He is quickly promoted to lieutenant, which is upsetting to Iago, a fellow soldier, who was hoping to be promoted to lieutenant. Cassio is a weak man who does not anticipate the manipulative nature of others. During an encounter with Iago, Cassio does not realize Iago is trying to make him drunk. Cassio drinks openly, gets into a brawl with Roderigo, and stabs Montano, who was trying to help. When Othello finds out about the brawl, Cassio immediately loses his title as lieutenant.

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Cassio in Othello: Character Analysis & Quotes

Discussion Questions

1. The character of Cassio is described as a capable and trustworthy soldier, which is most likely why Othello chooses him to be lieutenant. Yet he is weak as a man in his personal and public life outside of the military environment. He is also what might be described as overly friendly with women, particularly in the place and time in which the play is set. Discuss the idea of strength as it applies to the various aspects of Cassio's life. What specific weak moments lead to the tragic outcome of the play?

2. How does Iago sabotage Cassio's military career? Why do you think this particular ploy on the part of Iago is successful with Cassio? If the situation were reversed and Iago had gotten the promotion, how do you think Cassio might have reacted? How would this have changed what happens later in the action?

3. Consider the women in the cast of this play. What is Cassio's interaction with Emilia? With Desdemona? With Bianca? Think about the personalities of the three women in your discussion. Does age affect these interactions with Cassio? How about social status? Remember that Desdemona is his commander's wife.

4. There is a racial element in this play, part of what keeps the play relevant for modern audiences. How might the racial element of Othello being an African Moor affect the Venetian soldiers under his command? Do you find any evidence in the text that Cassio has any racial prejudice against his boss?

5. At the end of the play, Cassio wins in the end as he becomes governor of Cyprus. In the play, what idea do you get about how Cassio feels at the end? Does this ending seem to you to be a fair and just outcome of everything that takes place?

Writing Prompts

1. Is Cassio a positive character in the play? In other words, do you care about what happens to him or in general dislike him? Decide what your overall opinion of this character is, and then find a quote to support your view. Build a brief essay around this quote.

2. How do you think Cassio feels about himself as a soldier? As a man? As a lover? Choose one of these aspects on which to focus, and find a quote that contributes to an essay about your view.

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