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.