‘Othello portrays a world that has the same conviction as our own: that stupidity is more destructive than evil’. How far do you find this an acceptable view of Shakespeare’s tragedy? Examine two relevant extracts. Both themes of evil and stupidity are evident in most of Shakespeare’s plays, especially so in Othello. However, it is difficult to say whether stupidity is more destructive than evil. Iago uses evil to fulfil his wants, but it may not have happened so easily without stupidity.
The first example of stupidity is shown in 2:3. Cassio’s drunkenness leads him to stupidity. Cassio states that Desdemona “is a most exquisite lady” and that “she is a most fresh and delicate creature. ” This in itself shows stupidity as he Cassio is giving Iago ammunition so to speak to use against Othello; the fact that he fancies Desdemona.
Iago joins in his thoughts and begins questioning him stating: “And when she speaks, is it not an alarum to love? ” Cassio replies with: She is indeed perfection. ” Iago is putting words into Cassio’s mouth, and this is before Cassio has had anything to drink. Cassio is showing his stupidity at not being able to keep his feelings to himself; his feelings about his general’s wife. In Elizabethan times, thoughts like these were considered incest and sinful and were usually punishable by death if discovered. Cassio’s thoughts can easily be used against him. Iago offers Cassio “a stoup of wine” to which Cassio rejects.
This does not show stupidity as it seems as though he knows how bad he gets when drunk, suggested by “I have poor and unhappy brains for drinking. ” However, Iago pushes and pushes the issue by teasing him, stating that he is a bad drinker: “Why, he drinks you with facility your Dane dead drunk.. ” Cassio finally gives in and states “To the health of our General! ” The fact that he gives in shows a weak state of mind when put under pressure which in turn suggests stupidity as he knows what will happen if he gets drunk but is willing to risk it for a drink with his ‘friends’.