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Playing Shakespeare's Villains


Edited By Louis Fantasia

The essays in Playing Shakespeare’s Villains trouble our assumptions of what—and who—constitutes "villainy" in Shakespeare’s works, through probing and provocative analyses of the murky moral logics at play in the Bard’s oeuvre. Shakespeare spreads before us a panoply of evil, villainy, and amorality—of characters doing bad things for good reasons, bad things for bad reasons, and bad things for no reason at all. How does Shakespeare handle culpability and consequence? How much does he justify his villains’ actions? How much do we enjoy watching people get away with murder and mayhem? What are we to make of the moral universe that Shakesperare presents: a universe in which some villains are punished and others seem to be rewarded; where mischief can quickly turn violent; and where an entire world can be brought down by someone’s willful insistence on having one’s way? Questions like these animate the discussions in this lively volume, the second in the Playing Shakespeare’s Characters series.

Louis Fantasia: Introduction: Playing Shakespeare’s Villains: Bloody, bawdy, remorseless, treacherous, lecherous! – Janna Segal: "Something wicked this way comes": (Re)Locating the Supernatural World of Macbeth – Timothy Harris: "A few drams of eale": An Overview of Evil in Shakespeare’s Plays – Armin Shimerman: "He that plays the King shall be welcome" – Brian Lohmann: Damned, Smiling Villains: The Pleasure of Not Caring – Louis Scheeder: Iachimo: "By villainy I got this ring" – Edit Villareal: Behind Closed Doors: Sex, Lies and Servants – Charmaine Cordero: "Tis a vile thing to die": Teaching Villainy in the Public School Classroom – Louis Fantasia: "Very fine people …" – Clifford Librach: On the Nature of Evil – Contributors.