From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.


Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Iago is pretty fond of making references to gardens and other kinds of foliage, wouldn't you say? Does he just really like planting veggies and watering flowers? Did he minor in botany?

Nope. There's something way more twisted and ominous going on. The most famous moment in the play is when Iago says:

Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our
wills are gardeners: so that if we will plant nettles,
or sow lettuce […]
either to have it sterile with idleness or
manured with industry, why the power and corrigible
authority of this lies in our wills.
(1.3.362-364; 366-368)

This is a rather elaborate analogy between gardening and exercising free will. Basically, Iago is reminding us that he's the ultimate master gardener (so to speak) because he has such great control over himself and his actions.

We're also reminded that part of what makes Iago such a brilliant manipulator of Othello is his ability to plant the seeds of doubt and jealousy in Othello's mind.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...