Iago speaks ill of Venetian women. He highlights their frequent adultery and the ability to be deceptive. He specifies that the Venetian husbands are often unaware of their wives’ love affairs. By doing this, Iago creates further suspicion in Othello about Desdemona’s loyalty.
Iago claims that women in Venice are insincere due to their disloyalty and deception. When discussing Desdemona’s potential betrayal, Iago remarks:
In Venice they do let heaven see the pranks
They dare not show their husbands; their best conscience
Is not to leave’t undone, but keep’t unknown.
(Act 3, Scene 3)
Iago believes that it is common for Venetian women to cheat on their husbands and keep their affairs secret. The husbands tend to be unaware of their wives’ adultery.
By saying this, Iago continues to plant the seed of doubt in Othello’s mind regarding Desdemona. If she were unfaithful, she would likely lie to conceal her sin, so Othello would not know about the affair. This argument creates suspicion in Othello regarding her relationship with Cassio.
To further consolidate Othello’s doubt, Iago adds:
She did deceive her father, marrying you;
And when she seem’d to shake and fear your looks,
She loved them most.
(Act 3, Scene 3)
Desdemona married Othello secretly, much to her father’s dismay. By reminding Othello of this detail, Iago shows that his wife is capable of being deceptive.
The example illustrates how Iago manipulates Othello throughout the play. It helps the villain to lead to the final demise of Othello and Desdemona. The theme of deception and manipulation is prevalent throughout Shakespeare’s play. Through Iago, the author highlights that the language one chooses can often lead to detrimental results. He urges the readers not to believe everything they hear. Sometimes, the speaker of such words might not have their best interest at heart.