What are some character traits of Cassio in the novel Othello by William Shakespeare ?   Please include a scene from the novel or quotation to why you believe this trait(s) belongs to Cassio.

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durbanville eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Cassio is a man of honor, believing in the order of things. He believes that a man's reputation is crucial to his well-being and is chivalrous, trustworthy, generous and apparently good-looking. His popularity with the womenfolk is pure and out of respect for them not because he lusts after them.

Unfortunately one of his weaknesses is his relationship with Bianca, a woman of doubful morals, a prostitute who does appear to be wholly in love with Cassio although he does not feel as strongly.

Cassio's character does not have a lot of depth and his main function in the play is to further Othello's jealousy and eroding trust. He is easily manipulated due to his trusting nature and in Act II iii Iago takes full advantage when he persuades Cassio to drink more than he knows he can hold:

I have very poor and unhappy brains for drinking 

He does not suspect Iago's intentions and becomes brazen after another drink and even refers to the fact that "the Lieutenant is to be saved before the Ancient" rather more because it is the order of things and due to his naiivety than because he is better than Iago. .

 Cassio is perhaps referring to a commonplace for maintaining military order, but the implication is that Cassio is superior by virtue of his title alone

Of course Iago can fuel his own hatred because of this statement and justify his belief that Cassio does not deserve the position of lieutenant - not even being a skilled soldier. Iago's initial need to avenge himself against Cassio who was given the position he believes he deserves more is reinforced and Iago can use Cassio to destroy Othello and Desdemona  at the same time.

Iago goes on in this scene to refer to Cassio's inability to manage his drinking as if it is a regular occurence sufficiently that Othello should be warned. He refers to it as "his infirmity." He wants others to see Cassio's "vices" as Cassio appears far too perfect otherwise.

Iago is also able to use the situation and Cassio's inability to control himself to further his plot against Othello. Others will question Othello's leadership qualities if he has appointed such an inconsistent lieutenant.

Cassio has "lost the immortal part of myself" by getting involved in a brawl and is sorry for his part but he also walks straight into Iago's trap and actually trusts Iago enought o discuss his situation with him again showing his naiivety.

It seems that none of the characters are a match for Iago!

 

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Michael Cassio is Othello's Florentine lieutenant. He is considered second-in-command and plays an important role in the play. Michael Cassio is portrayed as a physically attractive ladies' man who Iago uses to manipulate Othello into murdering his wife. Cassio is also an educated man and understands the logistics of warfare. One of Iago's complaints about Cassio is that he is not battle-tested and is simply a student of warfare. Michael Cassio is also depicted as chivalrous and decorous. When Michael Cassio initially arrives at Cyprus, he politely addresses Desdemona and takes her hand. Iago uses Cassio's decorous behavior against him by making Othello believe that he is having an affair with Desdemona. Despite Michael Cassio's stellar public image, he treats Bianca rather terribly and simply uses her for sex. Cassio is also vulnerable to peer pressure, as he is manipulated by Iago into drinking an excessive amount of alcohol while he is supposed to be standing guard. Similar to Othello, Cassio trusts Iago and unknowingly plays right into the hands of the master manipulator. Overall, Cassio is portrayed as a respected, attractive, chivalrous man who becomes a pawn in Iago's evil plan to punish Othello.

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