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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: March ::
Re: Almost Damn'd
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.07380  Tuesday, 12 March 2002

From:           Steve Sohmer <
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Date:           Monday, 11 Mar 2002 19:20:05 EST
Subject: 13.0732 Almost Damn'd
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0732 Almost Damn'd

Dear Friends,

Cassio is a Veronese "framed to make women false" (1.3.397) - a man
almost damned not in a fair "wife" but in a fair "wise" (1.2.20) -
meaning his visage, face, and particularly his manners. It's Cassio's
familiar manner in welcoming Emilia (and Desdemona) that cues Iago's
plot. "I extend my manners; 'tis my breeding" says Cassio "That gives me
this bold show of courtesy" (2.1.98-9). Watching, Iago darkly swears "I
will gyve thee in thine own courtesies" (2.1.169-70). In his rival from
Verona, the Florentine Iago sees a dandy "almost damned in a fair wise"
who "Hath a daily beauty in his life That makes me ugly" (5.1.19-20).

There's no suggestion in the text that Cassio has a wife, a horse, a
dog, or a DVD. (He does, however, have a beard.)

*Iago says Cassio's a Florentine (1.1.19). But Iago lies about
everything. Othello says Cassio's a Roman (4.1.117) but that's a
pejorative implying gigolo. On the other hand, when Cassio says Iago is
a Florentine we believe him (3.1.39). But the speaker "3 Gentleman" who
has no reason to lie reports in the Quarto:

             The Ship is heere put in: A Veronessa, Michael Cassio
             Lieutenant to the warlike Moore, Othello,
             Is come ashore: (2.1.25-8)

In the Folio, "Veronessa" becomes the wholly unintelligible
"Verennessa".  Likely, Q's "A Veronnessa, Michael Cassio" was a
typographer's misreading of "A Veronese, a Michael Cassio".

Hope this helps.

Steve

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