Olivia and Tyla
Othello Act 2 Summary Response
Summary: In Act 2 of William Shakespeare’s Othello, Iago ruins Cassio’s reputation. He first turns Roderigo against Cassio by convincing him that Desdemona and Cassio are in love. Then, Roderigo, at Iago’s prompting, insults Cassio, leading to a fight between them, in which Cassio is determined guilty and Othello fires him from his position as lieutenant.
- Topic sentence: Othello, by William Shakespeare, presents an interesting scene between Cassio and Desdemona in Act 2, during which Cassio shows great respect for Desdemona by holding her hand and praising her, which Iago claims is a sign of Cassio’s love for Desdemona.
- Claim 1: Despite Iago’s insistence otherwise, Cassio is not in love with Desdemona.
- Set-up When Cassio greets Desdemona as she comes ashore, he praises and compliments her, but only out of respect and not the true love you would see between a husband and wife.
- Evidence: Lead-in He says, “Oh, behold,/ The riches of the ship is come to shore!/ You men of Cyprus, let her have your knees.” After kneeling to the beautiful lady, he continues, “Hail to thee, lady, and the grace of heaven,/ Before, behind thee, and on every hand/ Enwheel thee round.” (Shakespeare 2.1.91-96).
- Explanation of quotation to prove claim This may seem at first to indicate that Cassio really does love Desdemona, but it pales in comparison to the way Othello greets her. He exclaims, “Oh, my fair warrior! ... If after every tempest there were to come such calms,/ Let the wind blow till they have wakened death,/ and let the laboring bark climb hills of seas/ Olympus high, and duck again as low/ As hell’s from heaven!” (Shakespeare, 2.1. 197-205) Othello would go through anything for Desdemona, but Cassio expresses no such dedication.
- Counterclaim 1: However, it is true that Cassio could be in love with Desdemona.
- Set-up After Desdemona arrives, she and Cassio seem to have a flirtatious relationship as they speak. It could be taken as friendly, but to others it may look like they have a more serious relationship than they let on.
- Evidence: Lead-in Helping to defend Desdemona, Cassio says, “He speaks home, madam. You may relish him more in the soldier than in the scholar,” and he takes Desdemona’s hand (Shakespeare 2.1.180-181).
- Explanation of quotation to prove counterclaim Cassio taking Desdemona’s hand could be seen as friendly, but he takes her hand in union, to show that he supports her. It is a way of showing the others that they are a team, and it displays his affection for her.
- What are the strengths/ flaws of this argument?
At first glance, it may seem that Cassio has real feeling for Desdemona. This position seems reasonable because of the way he acts towards her. He kisses her hand, and holds it to show union; however, it is more of a friendly thing. He is acting as a gentleman, and showing her respect. Cassio doesn’t show the kind of affection that someone in love would present.
- Concluding sentence: Although Cassio is very friendly to Desdemona, his actions are purely through kindness and respect, not love for her.