When Desdemona asks for Iago's help, what does he say to her about Othello's jealousy? (Act 4)

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Iago is a clever, yet evil, mastermind in William Shakespeare’s great tragedy Othello. Iago is working quickly to plot against Othello, the Moor. One of Iago's plots is to present a fictitious story that a soldier, Cassio, is having a romantic affair with Othello’s wife, Desdemona. Of course, Othello becomes jealous when he hears of this.

Concerned about her husband’s jealousy, Desdemona asks Iago for help. She cannot understand why Othello is treating her unkindly or why he has called her a “whore.” She pleads for Iago's assistance. Iago quickly denies Othello’s jealousy, not wanting to reveal his evil plan. He tells her:

I pray you, be content, ‘tis but his humor.
The business of the state does him offence. And he does chide with you.

Essentially, Iago is fooling Desdemona by pretending he is comforting her. He tells her not to worry about Othello’s words and that he is simply in a poor mood. He says that the country’s political state is concerning Othello, and he is taking his frustrations out on his wife.

Desdemona trusts Iago's words and does not bring her concerns to Othello. Iago ultimately succeeds in his plan, which leads to Desdemona’s unfortunate death.

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He says that it must be some business about the war or something else that is really bothering him:

I pray you, be content; 'tis but his humour: The business of the state does him offence,

And he does chide with you.

There is no way that Othello, who loved Desdemona so dearly, could really have any problem with Desdemona.  Of course Iago must also be sure that she doesn't get a real hint as to what is happening because she might explain it and then Othello might see the truth!

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