Saturday, July 31, 2010


This month's episode is Villains, and here it is!

Trying to figure out some way to continue hosting old episodes, sorry if you accidentally re-downloaded the first episode on iTunes.

Our next episode is Henry V.

Episode Outline after the break.

Shakespeare’s Villains

   1. Introduction
         1. Bardcast
         2. Names
         3. Villains
   2. Definition Corner
         1. Villain is not the same as Antagonist
         2. Protagonist is the star of the show, the Antagonist is the person who opposes him
         3. Ergo, the Protagonist can be a villain
   3. Villains in Shakespeare’s Time
         1. Before Shakespeare’s time, Morality plays didn’t have characters like we imagine, they were “characters” like Vice and Greed, etc.
               1. Shakespeare and the allegory of evil.
         2. several of Shakespeare’s villains draw directly from this tradition.
   4. Shakespearean Style on Villains
         1. Tends to give them legitimate grievances, against type at the time
               1. Villains don’t need motives for this audience
         2. Typically, gives a villain speech at the beginning
               1. This shows their villainy,
               2. clarifies the way that they’re going to operate.
               3. Without this speech, the dissimulation could be seen as genuine.
         3. Usually drags other characters into Villainy with them
               1. The Villainy of XXX is worse in Shakey’s time than ours. When someone severs the ties of marriage, father and son, fealty, etc. It is a violation of the Natural order (God’s order), not just a violation of the bond.
         4. Almost always die, usually horribly
               1. Not really a Karmically just world, since the good guys generally get it too, in the tragedies.
         5. Generally have a characteristic that makes them into a believable villain regardless of motive: bastardry, moorishness, Jewosity, etc.
   5. Particular Shakespeare Villains
         1. Iago - Othello Machiavel, Italians would be seen as natural to plots, etc.
               1. Motives are different than the actions, desire for promotion not connected to his actions.
         2. Aaron - Titus Andronicus Machiavellian - kills some people, causes unrest
         3. Richard III - Malformed is enough to be a villain, people of the time were much more willing to accept appearance -> character.
               1. Murders Nephews, usurps throne
         4. Lady Macbeth - Macbeth - woman - that entire assassination thing. She’s worse because she wants to be evil, not the results of evil.
         5. Shylock -  Merchant of Venice - definitely a villain in shakey’s time, not so much in ours - tried to kill Antonio
         6. Edmund - Lear - bastard
               1. Manipulates Goneril  and Regan to get power, lets father get eyes gouged out, more stuff
         7. Goneril and Regan- King Lear - women
         8. Don John - Much Ado About Nothing - bastard
         9. Angelo - Measure for Measure - Hypocricy!
        10. The Queen - Cymbeline - woman
   6. Are these people Villains?
         1. Cassius - Caesar- Brutus - Julius Caesar
         2. Macbeth - Macbeth is hero and villain, his great destruction is of himself.
         3. Falstaff - Henry IV - definitely in the character of a vice in a morality play.
         4. Claudius - Hamlet - regrets his sins, etc.
   7. Closing
         1. Next time - Henry V


  1. So, I just discovered your podcast. It's amazing. I don't think you've done one on Richard III (sorry if I'm wrong) but if not, I think you should. It's one of my favorites.

  2. Thanks for the comment, we hadn't had one for a while. Our next episode is Henry V, then chronologically we should do the Henry VI's, but that would be such a slog I'm I'm sure what we're going to do. I'm also looking forward to Richard III, however we arrive at it.

  3. Here's an extremely delayed reaction to this episode, as I only recently discovered the podcast and quite enjoy it. I wonder if anyone associated w/ this podcast is strange enough to have mp3s of dialogue from various Shakespeare plays on his ipod? I at least want to fine one haven of persons for whom this doesn't make me a freak.

    One thing about your villains podcast, which I really liked (in a Shakespeare course in college many yrs. ago I wrote the final paper on this subject & argued that Iago was the consummate quintessence of a villain): regarding Claudius in Hamlet, you seemed to suggest that it can go either way as to how good or bad he is, but I have to wonder if the Bard himself would entertain such equivocation since the basis of the entire story/conflict is that this guy murdered his own brother in cold blood to steal his crown AND his wife. I'm not sure he is redeemable no matter how effective his governance after that.


    Anywho, just a thought. I look forward to listening to more of these.

  4. Passing comment about Angelo in 'Measure for Measure' as a villain. Really!? He's a ruler with good intentions, foiled by his own shortcomings, desires and lack of self-control!

    Also, love the Shakespearean tradition of charismatic villains who we're undeniably drawn to i.e. Iago, Don John, Edmund. Maybe even villains that you feel somewhat sympathetic towards, like Shylock. Shakespeare stirs up all these emotions, making morally reprehensible characters somewhat appealing, or redeeming them to a certain extent. Shakespeare's villains are the original biker boys that all the girls want to tame!

  5. Please do one on Richard III :) its such a great play!