Villains in Shakespeare

When reading a story, people tend to identify with the hero.They like to think of themselves as heroes in their own lives and the success of a hero in a story makes them feel better about their chances of success in their own lives.However, a hero is only as great as the obstacle he can overcome.The obstacle can be a natural disaster or even a wild animal but it is a human villain who himself develops and changes as the story unfolds that can be the most challenging, and therefore interesting obstacle to overcome.In fact, it is the villain who makes the story exciting.What is a story without a villain?For example, what would the story of Cinderella be without the ever-present evil of Cinderella's wicked stepmother and stepsister's.And the ending of the story would be much less satisfying if the prince did not have to run all over town, shoe in hand to find his true love.We would never have come to know and love the seven dwarfs if Snow White wouldn't have been kicked out of the house by her jealous stepmother.It is the villain who moves and compels the story.It is the villain who provides the conflict that in turn sets the story into motion.As George W. Williams says of Iago"…The most energetic of the number and because of that energy… the most interesting (Williams, 96)."It seems that many of the best theatrical moments go to these shadowy figures.
There are many characteristics that define a villain. Shakespeare does an outstanding job of creating tremendously well developed villains, the type of villains that you "love to hate".I will use two of Shakespeare's most famous villains, Iago and Claudius, to examine the character and function of villains in a drama.
For one, villains are self-serving.These egocentric characters place their own interests above the interest of others.They refuse to accept the idea of a higher morality and pursue their own end…