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A character of michael cassio from the play othello by william shakespeare

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This observation demonstrates that these three main traits—grandeur, self-control, and nobility—are key to understanding Othello's complex character, and even more helpful in understanding the contrasts between him and his subordinates. Most notably in this comparison is young Michael Cassio, a beautifully written foil character to the general in the fact that where Othello possesses these three qualities and othersCassio either lacks them entirely or enhances them to the betterment of those around him.

His first entrance on the stage presents him as a wise man, a leader whose experiences have made him all the more observant and patient with the world around him. The hardships of his enslavement and the experiences of war have made him a calculating, reserved leader who looks at a situation from every angle, who never acts rashly or without understanding all sides.

Indeed, the Venetian council acknowledges his masterful approach to the battlefield as they call him to take command of their fleets against the Turks: Cassio, on the other hand, is a young pup by comparison.

Michael Cassio as a Foil to Shakespeare

Cassio has physical beauty and grace; Othello has calculating finesse and wisdom. Both men deserve and attain recognition for their individual strengths…as they also lose it at various times and in different ways throughout the play. While some would argue that his murder of Desdemona is anything but self-controlled, the attack on his wife is an extremely calculated and planned one, as Othello seeks to rationalize his decision, slanting the proposition in the form of an execution of a strumpet, instead of the murder of an innocent.

Cassio on the flip side is a slave of passion.

The character of michael cassio in the play othello by william shakespeare

Not always a negative trait to possess, the passion he exhibits is a passion for life, of enjoying every moment and living in the present, as evinced by his rollicking romance with Bianca, his cajoling with Iago, Montano, and the men of the watch, and his overall pleasantry with his superiors and the ladies around him.

Othello, seemingly, must admire him for this appreciation for life that Cassio possesses, perhaps one of the reasons he promotes Cassio over his long-faithful right hand, Iago.

  • Cassio is as mysterious as Othello is reserved;
  • In fact Desdemona, who had married Othello against her father's wishes, was just Cassio's friend;
  • Bitter at being passed over for promotion in favour of Cassio, Iago poisoned Othello's mind against his rival;
  • Characters of Othello the play by William Shakespeare;
  • Shakespeare and the Nature of Man.

His character also balances the morality and tone of the play in a negative aspect: One final trait, though hardly the last legitimate, comparable characteristic, is the background and heritage of each of these men.

Othello is a king, no argument. In his opening speech to the Venetian court, he reveals his ancestry and his original state as the king of the Moors. His presence and bearing, as previously noted, denote a majesty and nobility that is unfound in the common man, as noted by his subjects and subordinates.

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Cassio is as mysterious as Othello is reserved. The fact that he is a soldier in a high court suggests that he is not of a royal or noble bloodline but a man who had to earn his reputation and favor in the eyes of those he served. Both men, too, have wounded reputations, but the different ways they choose to handle their situation shows the foil technique playing beautifully. Like Othello, Cassio finds himself pitted against a slight on his reputation, but unlike Othello, Cassio pleads only the truth: With these opposite characteristics presented, Cassio might, at this point, seem more of a second antagonist to the hero.

Michael Cassio as a Foil to Shakespeare's Othello

But he slips into the role of a foil character through his similarities as well as his differences. The Invention of the Human. Shakespeare and the Nature of Man.

The Macmillan Company, 1949. Michael Cassio as a Foil to Shakespeare's Othello. More By This Author:

Michael Cassio as a Foil to Shakespeare