What lie does Iago tell Roderigo about Desdemona in Othello?

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Towards the end of act 2, scene 1, Iago lies to Roderigo by telling him that Desdemona is infatuated with Michael Cassio. When Roderigo disagrees, Iago continues to lie by telling Roderigo that Desdemona believes Cassio is much more handsome than her ugly husband, who she is no longer interested in. Roderigo continues to doubt Iago, who insists that Desdemona is romantically interested in Cassio.

Iago then orders Roderigo to stand on guard duty later that night and hurl insults at Cassio. Iago says that Cassio is hot-headed and will attempt to fight him, which will get him into trouble and jeopardize his position of authority. Iago explains that once Roderigo gets Cassio out of the way, Roderigo will finally have the opportunity to win Desdemona's heart from Othello. Roderigo is completely unaware that Iago is using him as a pawn to get revenge on Othello and Cassio.

Roderigo follows through with Iago's orders and Cassio ends up losing his temper, which influences Othello to relieve him from his position as lieutenant. Once Cassio is removed from his position of authority, Iago goes about convincing Othello that his wife is having an affair with Cassio.

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In Act II, Iago lies to Roderigo about Desdemona and Cassio. He convinces Roderigo that Desdemona is cheating on Othello with Cassio. This leads to Iago convincing Roderigo to get into a fight with Cassio in the hopes of getting Cassio into trouble, and it works.

"Cassio knows you not. I'll not be far from you. Do you find some occasion to anger Cassio, either by speaking too loud, or tainting his discipline, or from what other course you please, which the time shall more favorably minister" (Act II).

Basically, Iago simply uses the unassuming Roderigo as a pawn in this larger game of chess that he is playing. He knows that Roderigo will be easily swayed and do Iago's bidding. He needs to make Othello dislike Cassio and get Cassio indebted to Desdemona in the hopes of getting his job back.

Ultimately, Roderigo does get into a fight with Cassio, Iago tells Othello, and Cassio is fired. Poor Cassio's misfortunate does not simply end there, though, as Iago continues to advance the rumor that he is cheating with Desdemona, even telling Othello this straight to his face.

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