There’s nothing like a good villain in a story, and arguably no one’s villains are better than Shakespeare’s. From Iago in Othello to Aaron in Titus Andronicus to Richard III, his characters thwart the success of good people in order to serve their own motives. What makes villains so compelling, though, is the powerfully beautiful language they use to draw in audiences and make us (almost) complicit with their villainy. In this course we’ll consider the range of Shakespeare’s villains to appreciate how some of his most dastardly characters were formed in his imagination, and compel us to this day.
By completion of this course, successful students will be able to:
- Identify sources and principal features of villains in Shakespeare’s plays
- Distinguish between tragedy, comedy, history, and romance genres
- Interpret the language of at least five soliloquies (first-person speeches) by Shakespeare’s villains
- Compare the motives and methods of various characters based on this language
- Analyze actors’ performances of these characters, past and present