Cassio is a young Florentine officer in Venice’s army. Academically trained, he has had little if any real wartime experience.
A gallant, courteous gentleman, perhaps too gallant with the ladies at time, he has been friendly with Othello for some time, and acted as a go-between for him and Desdemona. Othello has chosen him to be his lieutenant. He is naive, incapable of holding his liquor, and has a hair-trigger temper when drunk. When sober, however, he is friendly with everyone, though he compares people to what he has known in Florence. He holds his reputation to be his highest worth, and is crestfallen when he loses it and his position over a foolish drunken quarrel whose start he cannot even remember. Convinced by Iago’s arguments, he takes his hopes of reinstatement to the lieutenancy to Desdemona. He has a long-standing agreement with Bianca, though he finds it impossible to take seriously her hopes of marrying him and rather neglects her. He uses her easily, though, asking her to copy the mysterious handkerchief he finds in his room. Once the wars are done, he is named Governor of Cyprus by the Venetian Senate. Returning home from Bianca’s one evening before taking up his new position, he is set upon by a Venetian he does not know, and badly wounded. He is horrified when, soon after, he discovers the suspicions Othello has had of him and the extent of Iago’s villainy. It is left to him to decide what punishments will be inflicted on the man.