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 he was more entitled to the position than Cassio. Cassio was a brillant strategist, but had very little experience on the battlefield. Iago, on the other hand, had an abundance of battle experience and felt that he was passed over only for appearances' sake. This idea may very well be true. Othello needed someone who would make him look better in the eyes of important state officials and people of high standing in the community. The Moor was a black man, a fact that is often referred to in the play and which also causes Othello much insecurity. He saw his race as a drawback and something that could prevent him from gaining further success. So Michael Cassio was the perfect "face" to bring along to state functions; the perfect white face. He was a very presentable, educated, good-looking man from a middle-class background. To get back at the Moor, Iago decides to poison his mind against his wife and against Michael Cassio, by conjuring up images of an illicit sexual affair between the two.
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... by no means the tragic hero, he is definitely not Othello's villain.
Iago chooses Cassio as his prey because he is the one that benefitted from Othello's overlooking of Iago. Who better to bring down? Cassio gained the position that Iago wanted, felt entitled to. Cassio was also everything that Iago was not. Cassio came from a financially comfortable background, Iago did not. Cassipo received a good education, Iago did not. Cassio's promotion to the lieutenancy was the straw that broke the camel's back.
The flaws of Othello and Cassio, naivete and gullibility, led to their downfalls. Both characters were innocent of villiany, but guilty of choosing to put their trust in the wrong person. Had they attempted to communicate with the people they should have, Othello with Desdemona, and Cassio with Othello, Othello would not have been a Shakespearean tragedy.
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