, Research Paper
From Shakespeare’s play Othello, this paper will be discussing the roles
of Cassio, Roderigo and Brabantio, and their functions.
First, Cassio. Cassio is an honourable lieutenant and a soldier, who is
very loyal and caring towards his commanding officer, Othello, as shown
in one of many places, act two scene one line 45-48 when he is concerned
about Othello’s well being because he has been lost at sea and says:
Thanks, you the valiant of this warlike isle, That so approve the Moor! O,
let the heavens Give him the defense against the elements, For I have lost
him on a dangerous sea
In the beginning of the play Cassio is appointed to the position of
lieutenant by Othello, so Cassio at first has his highest respect, until
later in the play where Othello believes he is having an affair with
Desdemona. Cassio’s role in the play is not one of the extremely
important ones. His main function is to be a figure who’s actions are
partially responsible for Othello believing that his wife is cheating on
him. For example, Cassio asking for Desdemona’s help leads to the two of
them being seen together, which is in act three scene three line 35. In
the end of the play, Cassio becomes the governor in Cyprus after the
former Governor, Othello, commits suicide, in act five scene two from
line 366-378, which shows another of his functions, to act as one of the
means which ties up the loose ends at the end of the play.
Now, Roderigo. Roderigo is a foolish, cheated, gulled, dimwit.
Basically, his function in the play is to act as a lackey towards Iago.
His obedience towards Iago can be compared to that of Lennie Small
towards George Milton in the book Of Mice and Men, By John Steinbeck.
He does whatever Iago tells him to do, consistently in the hope of
obtaining Desdemona’s love. He never realizes that his chances for ever
getting anywhere with her are just about non-existent. He frequently
gives valuables to Iago to give to Desdemona, which Roderigo tells of
for the first time in the second line of the play, but Iago keeps
everything for himself. Near the end of the play Roderigo is killed by
Iago after he tries to ambush Cassio on Iago’s instructions. This
occurs in act five scene one, in line 62. He only functions as a means
for Iago to carry out his hateful plans.
Finally, Brabantio. Brabantio’s role is that he is the father of
Desdemona. He is one of the lesser developed characters in the play, as
well as being the main figure in the initial conflict in the play, in
which he is opposed to Othello and Desdemona’s marriage, as initially
shown in act one scene one line 144 when he reacts angrily after being
told of the elopement by Iago and Roderigo. He says:
Strike on the tinder, ho! Give me a taper! Call up all my people! This
accident is not unlike my dream. Belief of it oppresses me already. Light,
I say, light!
This sparks the audience’s interest at the beginning of the play, and
sets the stage for Iago to start fully carrying out his plans and the
real difficulties for Othello and Desdemona to begin. The three
characters we have talked about all are not the most major characters in
the play, but they provide a great deal of variety to the storyline with
their various character twists. Roderigo, for instance, is somewhat of a
foil, that is, a contrast to the character of Cassio. While Roderigo is
easily fooled and manipulated by Iago, Cassio takes a lot more
manoeuvring. For an illustration of this, refer to act two scene three
up to line 113 where Iago has to continuously persist in trying to get
Cassio to continue drinking. Also, Cassio is more of a romancer with
women, as shown in act two scene one line 63-67 where Cassio “pours his
language on a little thick” in an attempt to impress those of the female
gender nearby. Meanwhile, Roderigo is a coward and is afraid to approach
the woman he loves, instead he attempts to get Iago to do it for him.
As well, the characters are appealing to different types of audiences
with their various characteristics. The character of Brabantio could quite
possibly have been put in the play by Shakespeare so the older generation
of people in the time period in which the play was written, Elizabethan
times, could sympathize with him, as Brabantio does not approve of the fact
that Desdemona and Othello eloped, just as many older people of that time
As for Cassio, he might be there to appeal to the women of that time
with his fictional charm and courteousness for women, as demonstrated in
a previous line reference.
In conclusion, we can say that these three personae are not the most
primary in the story, but their roles provide important factors in
keeping the audience’s interest as well as making the play more
interesting on the whole for the current and the Elizabethan time
period’s people, with Cassio’s, Roderigo’s, and Brabantio’s myriad of