The people around Othello such as Desdemona, Iago, and Cassio bring out the different sides or personalities of Othello. Desdemona brings out his love side, Iago brings out his jealous side, and Cassio brings out his leader side. Together, Desdemona, Iago, and Cassio bring out these different traits of Othello that will determine how he acts in the near future.
Desdemona, who is Othello's lover, brings out his love side several times throughout the play. Both fell in love at first sight and have been inseparable ever since. Othello rarely shows his love side, but when he is with Desdemona, his emotions pour out. In one scene, Desdemona says, “I did love the Moor to live with him”(1.3.243). When Desdemona says this quote, she is saying that when she fell in love with Othello, she knew she will live with him for all eternity. This quote means Desdemona and Othello are madly in love due to their willingness to cohabit. This quote matters because it brings out Othello’s love side due to the fact that the two lovers are living together and shows how inseparable both are. On the surface, it seems like Desdemona just wants to live with Othello because they love each other. Below the surface, we see a side that rarely appears with Othello. For once, we see Othello be affectionate with Desdemona causing him to bring out his love side at times. In a different scene, Desdemona says, “The rites for which I love him are bereft me And I a heavy interim shall support By his dear absence. Let me go with him.” (1.3.252-254) When Desdemona says this quote, she is saying that she would be miserable if Othello went on the journey without her. This quote means that she cannot love anyone as much as she does with Othello and cannot go a day without seeing him. This quote matters because we clearly see Othello’s love side. When the Duke offers Desdemona to stay at her father's house while Othello is gone, Othello immediately declines the offer for Desdemona. On the surface, it seems like Othello doesn’t want Desdemona to stay at her father's house. Below the surface, Othello clearly cannot go a day without seeing Desdemona just like how she cannot go a day without him. Othello loves Desdemona and being away from her aches his heart.
Iago, Othello's right hand man brings out his jealous side at times throughout the play. Iago uses manipulation to trick Othello into thinking that Desdemona is cheating on him with one of his closest friends, Cassio. Due to Iago's manipulations, Othello jealous side comes out, making him seem different than usual. In the play, Iago says to Othello, “Look to your wife, observe her well with Cassio. Wear your eyes thus, not jealous nor secure.” (3.3.201-202) When Iago says this quote, he is saying that he wants Othello to watch how Desdemona and Cassio act when around each other. This quote matters because Iago is planting seeds of doubt in Othello’s mind. Othello is starting to think that Desdemona and Cassio are having an affair, making him become very jealous. On the surface, it seems that Iago is making false accusations about Desdemona.
Below the surface, Iago is making Othello jealous with every word he says. Poor Othello believes all the false accusations about Desdemona, causing him to distant himself away from his once true love. In a different scene, Iago says, “Trifles light as air Are to the jealous confirmations strong As proofs of holy writ.”(3.3.333) When Iago says this quote, he says that the handkerchief would be perfect proof to persuade Othello into thinking Desdemona is cheating on him. This quote means that the handkerchief is proof that Desdemona is cheating on him, which will make Othello think even more about the affair and make him get more jealous.This quote matters because having proof about the affair will make the scandal more believable to Othello, causing his jealous side to come out. On the surface, it seems that Iago is using a prop to stage an affair. Below the surface, this handkerchief could be the deal breaker to Othello that his true love is cheating on him, making him more and more jealous.
Cassio, Othello’s lieutenant, brings out his leader side at moments in the play. Cassio performs certain actions that force Othello to use his leader side against him. In the play, Cassio exclaims, “Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of of myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation, Iago, my reputation!” (2.3.281.284) When Cassio says this quote, he is saying that he lost his reputation, the one thing that he has pride in. He is completely devastated when his leader, Othello, strips his lieutenant rank away from him. This quote matters because we see Othello's leader side appear when striping Cassio’s rank away. This quote matters because we rarely see Othello take charge and be the upper man.
On the surface, it seems that Othello just took away Cassio’s rank away from him due to a foolish incident. Below the surface, Othello finally took control, and his leader side came out from the shadows and put the hammer down against Cassio. In a different scene, Iago says, “Dear general, I never gave you cause.”(5.2.312) When Cassio says this quote, he is saying that he always stayed loyal and never gave Othello a reason to hate him. When Lodovico asked if Othello planned to kill Cassio with Iago, Othello said yes. This scene matters because Othello decided to man up and apologize for what he did. By Othello apologizing, his leader side appears and sets a virtuous example to those who look up to him. On the surface, it seems like Othello is just apologizing for his kill attempt against Cassio. Below the surface, Othello is showing his leader side and owning up to the mistakes he made.
These three characters, Desdemona, Iago, and Cassio bring out the different sides or personalities of Othello, causing him to act differently in certain situations. We have seen Othello’s love side, jealous side, and his leader side. Over the course of the book, Othello's different personalities come out and really define who he is and who he becomes.