What Does Iago Say About The Venetian Women?

Updated 30 September, 2023
Women in the play are portrayed as either virtuous and pure or adulterous and sexually corrupt, there is no in between. In Act 3, Scene 3, Iago tells Othello that women in Venice are deceptive: “In Venice, they do let God see the Pranks/They dare not show their husbands. Their best conscience/Is not to leave’t undone, but keep’t unknown’ and reminds him of how Desdemona married Othello in secret without her father’s permission “She did deceive her father marrying you”.
Detailed answer:

The views of women throughout the play Othello are portrayed as very sexist, this is because Shakespeare gave little respect to his female characters. In the Shakespearean era women were brought up to marry, have children and raise them, and to tend to housework. This is the only occupation they were allowed to do. They had to be silent and obedient towards all males.
Misogyny plays a very big role in Othello due to the assumptions of women at the time. Men would assume women were cheaters, they didn’t assume this because women would actually cheat they thought this because it was a “natural habit” for women to cheat. In Act III Scene III Iago says to Othello, “Look to your wife; observe her well with Cassio; Wear your eye thus, not jealous nor secure. I would not have your free and noble nature, Out of self-bounty, be abused. Look to 't. I know our country disposition well; In Venice they do let God see the pranks They dare not show their husbands. Their best conscience Is not to leave 't undone, but keep 't unknown.” Basically what Iago is saying is that women cannot be trusted because they will cheat on you. This is what was thought of women at that time: they were born cheaters and liars. In this scene Iago is able to sow doubt in Othello's mind by having them watch Cassio and Desdemona interact. He also informs Othello that he understands how the people of Venice are, and that they don't resist doing evil, they simply avoid being caught.

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