Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: August ::
Othello and Cassio
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0504  Wednesday, 27 August 2008

[1] From:   Steve Sohmer <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
     Date:   Saturday, 23 Aug 2008 00:17:03 EDT
     Subj:   Re: SHK 19.0497 Othello and Cassio

[2] From:   Joseph Egert <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
     Date:   Saturday, 23 Aug 2008 12:22:15 -0700 (PDT)
     Subj:   Re: SHK 19.0497 Othello and Cassio

[3] From:   Donald Bloom <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
     Date:   Monday, 25 Aug 2008 09:19:40 -0500
     Subj:   RE: SHK 19.0497 Othello and Cassio


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Steve Sohmer <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:       Saturday, 23 Aug 2008 00:17:03 EDT
Subject: 19.0497 Othello and Cassio
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0497 Othello and Cassio

 >Othello has deceived his host, Brabantio, and made off with
 >Desdemona without B's consent. (Could there be a more blatant -
 >but never remarked as such -- offense?)  For that, he the more
 >readily believes Desdemona to be unfaithful -- we often mark iniquities
 >in others without realizing we are guilty of the same, and because
 >we are so.
 >
 >If that is the chief flaw in Othello's character -- I believe
 >it is -- what should we make of his never-explained choice of
 >Cassio over Iago for his lieutenant? How should we see that
 >choice as consonant with Othello's character? I guess Cassio
 >is *socially* superior to Iago -- is that the place to start?
 >
 >L. Swilley

Dear LS,

I answered this question in ELR (Spring, 2003).

All the best,
Steve

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Joseph Egert <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:       Saturday, 23 Aug 2008 12:22:15 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 19.0497 Othello and Cassio
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0497 Othello and Cassio

Othello chooses both Desdemona and Cassio to rise above his own Iago status in 
the eyes of Venetian nobility. They never bid him for love but accept him only 
for his use to them, as Iago keenly observes. Brabantio's response would 
otherwise have been their own. In their un-Christian hearts, they cannot truly 
incorporate the black alien convert into either their governing bloodline or the 
body of Christ, despite St Paul's dictum.

Regards,
Joe Egert

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Donald Bloom <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:       Monday, 25 Aug 2008 09:19:40 -0500
Subject: 19.0497 Othello and Cassio
Comment:    RE: SHK 19.0497 Othello and Cassio

L. Swilley asks: "If that is the chief flaw in Othello's character -- I believe 
it is -- what should we make of his never-explained choice of Cassio over Iago 
for his lieutenant? How should we see that choice as consonant with Othello's 
character? I guess Cassio is *socially* superior to Iago -- is that the place to 
start?"

I have always assumed so, or have since some professor in the dark backward and 
abysm of my education told me.

Cassio is a gentleman; Iago is not. (Don't ask me to prove this -- I'm just 
recalling study from many years ago.) Therefore, Cassio should be the officer, 
Iago the sergeant.

This makes more sense, by the way, than one might first assume. In a society 
that thinks in terms of merit by birth rather than by accomplishment or skill, 
you would likely feel that the both the soldiers and the other officers would 
respond better to a Cassio than to a Iago. And so, apparently, does Othello.

(This has a parallel, by the way, in "Shrew." Petruchio is a soldierly type and 
cannot (or will not) allow his junior officer (Kate) to be refusing to obey 
orders, insulting him and otherwise disrupting the orderly operations of the 
household. His plan is not to change her into a cringing slave, but into a 
well-trained officer. Once she gets that clear, their prospects for happy 
marriage far outstrip those of Lucentio-Bianca and Hortensio-Widow.

According to that theory of life, of course. But just because we operate under a 
different theory, we cannot assume that the other is invalid or malicious.)

Cheers,
don

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the opinions 
expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the editor assumes no 
responsibility for them.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.