Othello

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Michael Cassio Character Analysis

A young, charming, and handsome soldier, whom Othello promotes to the rank of lieutenant, over the more experienced Iago. Cassio is loyal to Othello and friendly with Desdemona, though he's unkind to the prostitute Bianca, who seems to love him. While intelligent, he is not cunning, and Iago easily ensnares the unwitting Cassio in a plot to convince Othello that Desdemona has cheated on him with Cassio.

Michael Cassio Quotes in Othello

The Othello quotes below are all either spoken by Michael Cassio or refer to Michael Cassio. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Prejudice Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of Othello published in 2015.
Act 2, scene 3 Quotes
"Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial."
Related Characters: Michael Cassio (speaker)
Related Symbols: Animals
Page Number: 2.3.281-283
Explanation and Analysis:

Othello charged Cassio with keeping an eye on the victory celebration, instructing him to make sure the men on guard do not get too drunk; Iago, meanwhile, manipulated the situation so Cassio himself got drunk and ended up fighting and injuring Montano. Having discovered this, Othello demanded to know what happened, and Iago described the fight while making it seem like he was reluctant to implicate Cassio. A shocked Othello has said he will have to dismiss Cassio as an officer, and with Othello gone, Cassio mourns the loss of his position and reputation. In this passage, Cassio refers to his reputation as "the immortal part of myself," and says that without it he is no better than a beast.

Cassio's statement confirms the huge value placed on reputation at the time; the immediacy with which he is ruined despite his otherwise flawless record highlights the danger of mistaken appearances and foreshadows Othello's fall from grace later in the play. His comment that "what remains is bestial" emphasizes the importance of honor as the characteristic that distinguishes men from animals, again connecting Cassio's predicament to the racist distrust of Othello as animalistic. 

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Michael Cassio Character Timeline in Othello

The timeline below shows where the character Michael Cassio appears in Othello. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 1
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...bearer) and had the recommendations of three leading men of Venice. Instead, Othello promoted Michael Cassio, a man who in Iago's estimation is just a "spinster" (1.1.23) military theorist with no... (full context)
Act 1, scene 2
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The men turn out to be Cassio and servants of the Duke of Venice, sent to bring Othello to meet with the... (full context)
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Iago then mentions to Cassio that Othello has married. But before he can say who Othello has wed, Roderigo along... (full context)
Act 1, scene 3
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...says that he will take Roderigo's money, and decides that he will convince Othello that Cassio is having an affair with Desdemona, and in so doing also get the position of... (full context)
Act 2, scene 1
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...could withstand the storm, and a moment later a gentleman enters with the news that Cassio has arrived, and that on his voyage to Cyprus, Cassio saw that the Turks lost... (full context)
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...to arrive. As soon as they arrive, Desdemona asks after Othello. When she hears that Cassio and Othello's ships lost contact during the storm she worries—but just then Othello's ship is... (full context)
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Cassio, courteous as always, takes Desdemona's hand and speaks with her privately for a moment. Iago... (full context)
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...younger, more handsome, and better-mannered. He says that it is obvious who this man will be—Cassio, whom he describes to Roderigo as a knave and posturer who is always looking out... (full context)
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In fact, Iago says, Desdemona already loves Cassio, and he asks if Roderigo noticed them touching hands. Roderigo did, but says it was... (full context)
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Alone, Iago delivers his second soliloquy. He says that he thinks it likely that Cassio does indeed love Desdemona, and believable at least that she might love him. He says... (full context)
Act 2, scene 3
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Othello puts Cassio in charge during the celebration. He instructs Cassio to make sure that the men on... (full context)
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...gone, Iago praises Desdemona's beauty while also slyly suggesting that she might be a seductress. Cassio agrees that Desdemona is beautiful, but believes her to be modest. (full context)
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Iago then turns the conversation to the revels, and tries to convince Cassio to take a drink. Cassio declines, saying he has no tolerance for alcohol. Eventually, Iago... (full context)
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...honor and whom he has made sure to get drunk. Once he has also gotten Cassio drunk, he will create some event that results in Cassio offending the people of Cyprus. (full context)
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Cassio returns with Montano and other revelers. Cassio, in good spirits, says that they have already... (full context)
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While Cassio is gone, Iago speaks with Montano, telling him that Cassio is a great soldier, but... (full context)
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Seconds later Cassio chases Roderigo onstage, cursing at him. They are about to fight when Montano tries to... (full context)
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...an end to the fighting, and demands to know how the fighting began. Iago and Cassio say they do not know, while Montano says that he is too injured to speak,... (full context)
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Iago speaks, saying that it pains him to cause any harm to Cassio but that he must tell the truth as Othello commands. He explains that as he... (full context)
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...Iago finishes his story, Othello says that he can tell that, out of love for Cassio, Iago tried to tell the story in a way that made Cassio look as good... (full context)
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Cassio despairs at his lost reputation: "O, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the... (full context)
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Iago delivers another soliloquy, in which he says that his advice to Cassio is actually good advice, and that enlisting Desdemona's help is the best way for Cassio... (full context)
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Roderigo enters. He is angry that he has gotten himself beaten by Cassio and given Iago almost all his money, but does not have Desdemona. Iago tells him... (full context)
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...outlining his plan: he will get his wife to set up a private meeting between Cassio and Desdemona, then make sure that Othello observes this meeting. (full context)
Act 3, scene 1
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Trying to regain Othello's favor, Cassio hires musicians to play beneath his window. But Othello sends down a clown, or servant,... (full context)
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Cassio gives the clown a gold piece, and asks the clown to bring Emilia to him... (full context)
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Emilia enters, and tells Cassio that Othello and Desdemona have been talking about his situation. Desdemona spoke strongly in his... (full context)
Act 3, scene 3
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Desdemona, Cassio, and Emilia enter. Desdemona assures Cassio that she will help him regain his position. Just... (full context)
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When Othello reaches Desdemona, she asks him to reinstate Cassio. Othello promises to do so soon, but won't give a definite time, much to Desdemona's... (full context)
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Othello and Iago are now alone. Iago starts asking vague but leading questions about Cassio, until Othello finally demands that Iago make clear his suspicions. Iago then makes a show... (full context)
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...to have Emilia watch Desdemona, and Iago tells Othello to watch how Desdemona acts regarding Cassio. (full context)
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...back and sends her away. Once he's alone, Iago plots to place the handkerchief in Cassio's room, so that Cassio will find it. (full context)
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Iago responds that it's probably impossible to actually catch Desdemona and Cassio in the act of infidelity, but that he can provide circumstantial evidence. He says that... (full context)
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But Iago cautions Othello that it was just Cassio's dream and may not signify anything about Desdemona's faithfulness. Then Iago asks whether Othello once... (full context)
Act 3, scene 4
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In her quarters, Desdemona sends the clown to tell Cassio she has made entreaties on his behalf to Othello, and to ask him to come... (full context)
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...takes Desdemona's hand, and notes that it is moist. When Desdemona tries to bring up Cassio's suit, Othello says he has a headache and asks for the handkerchief he gave her.... (full context)
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...Othello demands that she go get it, she tries to change the subject back to Cassio's suit. This enrages Othello, who exits. Emilia wonders if Othello is jealous, then comments on... (full context)
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Iago and Cassio enter. Cassio asks about his suit, but Desdemona tells him that he must be patient—for... (full context)
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As Cassio waits alone, a prostitute named Bianca enters. She says that he does not visit her... (full context)
Act 4, scene 1
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...enter, discussing infidelity. Iago uses the conversation to further enrage Othello, then lets slip that Cassio has actually told him that he has slept with Desdemona. Othello grows frantic, almost incoherent,... (full context)
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Cassio enters while Othello is unconscious from his fit. Iago informs Cassio that this is Othello’s... (full context)
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Othello’s fit ends after Cassio exits. Iago tells Othello that Cassio passed by during Othello’s fit and will soon return... (full context)
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Alone, Iago explains to the audience that he will actually speak with Cassio about Bianca, who’s doting pursuit of Cassio never fails to make Cassio break out in... (full context)
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The plan works perfectly: as Cassio laughs and gestures, Othello grows angrier and angrier. Then Bianca herself enters, again accuses Cassio... (full context)
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Othello comes out of hiding and promises to kill Cassio. But it is less easy for him to think about killing Desdemona. He keeps remembering... (full context)
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...orders from the Duke of Venice that Othello is to return to Venice and leave Cassio behind to govern Cyprus. Desdemona mentions to Lodovico the falling out between Othello and Cassio,... (full context)
Act 4, scene 2
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Othello questions Emilia, who insists that nothing has happened between Desdemona and Cassio. He orders her to go get Desdemona. Othello assumes that Emilia is helping Desdemona in... (full context)
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...promise that Rodrigo will have Desdemona by the following night. He then tells Roderigo about Cassio being promoted by the Duke to take Othello's place as defender of Cyprus. But he... (full context)
Act 5, scene 1
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In the street, Iago and Roderigo wait to ambush Cassio as he emerges from his visit to Bianca. Iago convinces Roderigo to make the first... (full context)
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Cassio enters. Roderigo attacks, but Cassio's armor turns away the thrust. Cassio counterattacks, wounding Roderigo. From... (full context)
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Lodovico enters with Graziano (Brabantio's brother). They hear the cries of pain from Cassio and Roderigo, but it's so dark they can't see anything. Iago enters, carrying a light,... (full context)
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As Iago, Lodovico, and Graziano tend to Cassio's wounds, Bianca enters and cries out when she sees Cassio's injuries. Iago, meanwhile, makes a... (full context)
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Cassio is carried offstage and Emilia enters. When Iago explains what has happened Emilia curses Bianca.... (full context)
Act 5, scene 2
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...know why Othello is going to kill her. He tells her that he has seen Cassio with her handkerchief. When Desdemona denies giving Cassio the handkerchief, Othello tells her that Cassio... (full context)
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...Desdemona's body. Then he goes to speak with Emilia, expecting her to tell him of Cassio's death. Othello is shocked to learn from Emilia that Cassio killed Roderigo but is himself... (full context)
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...armed and mourning Desdemona. Moments later Lodovico and Montano enter with Iago, whom they've captured. Cassio also enters, carried in on a chair. Othello immediately stabs Iago, who is injured but... (full context)
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...the destruction he has caused. He notes that Graziano is Othello's heir, and says that Cassio is to carry out the execution of Iago. Then he departs to carry the sad... (full context)