Othello Compare and Contrast

1 January 2017

Othello is one of Shakespeare’s distinguished characters in his superiority and grandeur. His beginning proclamations present him as a wise leader whose experiences have made him more patient and vigilant of the world around him. Enslavement and warfare have made him a cunning and reserved leader who tries to view any situation from every side before acting on it. The Venetian council recognizes his strategy as they call him to command of their fleets against the Turkish army.

The Council indicates, “…though we have a substitute of most allowed sufficiency, yet opinion, a more sovereign mistress of effect, throws a more safer voice on you” (I, III, 222-224). However, Cassio is young in comparison. Iago acknowledges to Roderigo that Cassio knows not “the division of a battle” (I, I, 23), is “without practice [in] all his soldiership” (27), and is “a great arithmetician” (19). Iago is finding fault with Cassio, as he was jealous of the young officers promotion.

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Despite his physical beauty and grace, the underdeveloped qualities pointed out by Iago highlight Othello’s shrewd diplomacy and knowledge. Both men are loyal soldiers in Venice, but Cassio seems to exemplify the mischief of youth, polished elegance, and stunning chivalry that enthralls women to soldiers. These traits then help Othello to represent the wisdom, experience, and strength of any army’s foundation. Othello’s is a very self-controlled character. When Iago first tries to point out Desdemona’s unfaithfulness, Othello attempts to seek out evidence before making any judgments.

Even the attack of his wife was particularly thought-out, as he tried to justify the action by thinking of it as an execution of an offender instead of the murder of an innocent woman. Various scholars have said that to the world, Othello isn’t passion’s slave. Even with his reputation on the line, he remains composed. When he was accused of divulging Branbantio’s trust by stealing away Desdemona, he reacted by calmly stating, “Were it my cue to fight, I should have known it / Without a prompter. Where will you that I go / To answer this charge? ” (I, I, 83-85).

Throughout a majority of the play, Othello is overcome with genuine love for Desdemona. Cassio highlights these qualities because he’s a man driven by passion. His pleasantry with his superiors and the ladies around him, especially Bianca, exhibit this quality. His treatment of women shows his careless attitude toward romance, which contrasts with the sincere appreciation and love that Othello has. He lives life to its fullest and enjoys every moment. Characters that foil each other often desire the mannerisms of the other. It’s said that Othello admires him for this trait and is perhaps promoted because of it.

The foil technique is used proficiently when each man handles his dilemma. Both men have wounded reputations, but they choose different paths when dealing with their situation. When accusations are hurled at Cassio, he attempts to get others to believe the truth. He pleads that he never meant to intentionally injure his beloved captain. On the flip side, Othello remains fixated on the betrayal and solely dwells on the pain caused by Desdemona’s infidelity. Cassio is comparatively quick to forgive the discharge and insists upon his loyal service.

He declared, “Dear general, I never gave you cause,” (V, III, 209). This reveals his true heart in spite of the adolescent immaturity that marks his character. Cassio, in the end, seems to represent the better man, the higher sophisticate in Othello’s mind than his own self. He presents a moral balance, both positively and negatively, to the Moor’s own morality and sense of duty and justice, ultimately providing the audience with an exceptional character whom they can identify with and admire for his loyalty and steadfastness to his beloved leader and friend.

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