The Besieged Lieutenant in Othello

1169 Words Jun 25th, 2018 5 Pages
In William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello, the audience finds a victim who is beset by Iago more than once, but who recovers in both cases – Cassio. He is the sole survivor among the main characters.

In his book of literary criticism, Shakespearean Tragedy, A. C. Bradley rejects the ancient’s accusation that Cassio is an inexperienced soldier:

That Cassio, again, was an interloper and a mere closet-student without experience of war is incredible, considering first that Othello chose him for lieutenant, and secondly that the Senate appointed him to succeed Othello in command at Cyprus; and we have direct evidence that part of Iago’s statement is a lie, for Desdemona happens to mention that Cassio was a man who ‘all his time’ had
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Emilia assists in the betrayal by providing Iago with the key piece of evidence – the decorated handkerchief which the general previously gave Desdemona: “That which so often you did bid me steal.”

Cassio, upon not being notified of any change in his fired status, returns to ply Desdemona with a second request for her intercession with the Moor. And indeed she in her goodness pursues this until her dying day. Meanwhile, Iago plants the stolen kerchief in Cassio’s room, and he innocently bestows it upon Bianca, a prostitute who wishes to marry him. Cassio’s innocent act, plus the ancient’s pathological stream of lies regarding Cassio and Desdemona, unhinge Othello emotionally so that he seeks the death of his wife and former officer.

The ambush of Cassio and his screams trigger the general to proceed with the suffocation of guiltless Desdemona. Cassio survives the attack and reappears at the closing scene, where Lodovico is asking Othello, “Did you and he consent in Cassio’s death?” When the general answers yes the surprised and emotionally hurt Cassio blurts out, “Dear general, I never gave you cause.” The search of Roderigo’s corpse produces a letter which “imports the death of Cassio to be undertook / By Roderigo” – another emotional revelation for
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