Holy shit yet another college paper on Shakespeare. How many millions, nay, billions of term papers on this god forsaken never dying eternal genius bard? We might as well start a religious cult. You could probably make a case that certain areas in the modern world of theatre are nothing but that cult. To write about any other author, one would first begin with a general overview of the specific effects that the author has had on the art of theatre. Not so with Shakespeare. With this guy, you can only kiss his feet for a few paragraphs, and then spill out your own humble teaspoon sized opinion into the sea of commentary, books, TV shows, thousands of analytical texts, millions of college courses over the course of the past four hundred years, etcetera. I don’t claim to have any new information on the God-Bard, or his villains, there are no new breakthrough discoveries of the secret psychological effects of Shakespearean characters which make them so effective even unto this late, late, day; contained in this paper. Let’s just say that this is my two bits on the current psychological effects (and affectations) of the villainy of the central and focal comparative point of all western stage drama, Mr. William Shakespeare, limey.
What is a villain, first of all. The bad guy, or gal. The personification of the antagonist, often a warped reflection of the protagonist (there is a case to be made that all good conflict is reflective), either the obstacle, or the affront. Now we need to separate this construct from general negative forces. Bad stuff does happen, but to make a villain out of bad stuff, one crucial thing must be lifted, and one crucial thing must be given. Otherwise, all we have are natural disasters, bad luck, chance, and etcetera. First, the easy part. We take a whole bunch of negative action, and stuff it into a body, physical or not, body meaning not so much a torso and a head as much as a personality. A certain level of anthropomorphism is necessary to create a true villain. Different levels of humanity can affect different interpretational scenarios which no doubt would and could be quite fascinating, but that first level, however minute, of sentience, must be attained. Secondly, and strangely deeper and more important, we must remove from our construct the elusive concept of indifference. There must be malice. There must be intent either to do harm, or to gain at something else’s expense. Indifference does have a place within the construct of the villain, but it is always on a second layer, usually covering, repressing, an underlying need, desire, or absence. Once again it is possible to play with this in the construct of a villain, i.e. the unaware juggernaut villainy often appearing in modern science fiction (the real fun psychological question, ‘is it a villain if it doesn’t know it’s a villain?’), but the construct must on some level be affected in order to create drive. Otherwise it would just sit there. One may realize at this point that what I have just described could also be used as criteria for any sort of character, even the hero, or heroine. Although they tend to almost universally be very, nay, more than human.
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