This passage in Othello also includes garden imagery, gustatory imagery, medicinal imagery, and olfactory imagery, as well as double entendre and alliteration.
Nettles = treat painful muscles and joints, eczema, arthritis, gout, and anemia
Lettuce = common vegetable a source of vitamin K, which helps strengthen bones
hyssop. = aromatic herb used in food and curative for digestive and intestinal problems, infection of the airways, poor circulation, skin problems, and other conditions,
thyme = pungent in taste used to flavor foods and are also used as medicine
“wills” = double entendre is sexually loaded denoting (in the time period) sexual desire
manure = gardening imagery perhaps; also olfactory imagery
alliteration = which. . .wills. . .weed. . .with. . .etc.
It is unclear what you mean by “belief of self-creation from Iago?” But if you are asking how this passage advances Iago’s character, it might be profitable to include the line that is omitted from this quote “Virtue! a fig! ’tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus” (1.3). This line, besides adding to the catalogue of gustatory imagery that follows, contains the derogatory statement “Virtue! A fig! (typically said with a derogatory hand gesture of the thumb between first and third fingers) denoting the notion of virtue as nonsense. This rejection of virtue continues to develop Iago’s evil nature as he told us previously “I am not what I am” (Act 1.1.65). Shakespeare scholars recognize this statement as an allusion to the name of God given to Moses: “I am what I am” (or I am that I am) (see Exodus 3:14, KJV). In essence, this statement by Iago renders him antithetical to God (i.e., a villain, a devil). We might expect a devil or a villain to say “Virtue! A fig.”
Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, Othello, The RSC Shakespeare, 2009, pg. 26.
Harold Bloom, Othello, Modern Critical Interpretations, Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.
Jane Coles, Othello, Cambridge School Shakespeare, 2007, pg. 40.
Russ McDonald, Othello, The Pelican Shakespeare, 2001, pg. 28
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