The remains of Richard Plantagenet, or King Richard III of England, have recently been discovered buried beneath a car park built on the site of a former church in Leicester. Richard would have been a relatively unknown historical figure – he reigned for just 2 years before being killed in battle against Henry Tudor – if it had not been for a certain William Shakespeare who created one of his best known characters based on the former king. Shakespeare lived during the reign of Elizabeth Tudor, a direct descendent of Richard’s rival, so it was probably for propaganda purposes that he painted Richard as a deformed psychopath who killed his two young nephews – an accusation that historians still debate hotly.
Whatever the historical truth we think it is time to measure Richard III against Shakespeare’s other great villains, so help us find out who is the greatest Shakespearian villain in our instant poll.
Here are the options:
- Richard III – the hunchbacked nephew-killer in the play of the same name
- Macbeth – kills a king, becomes a king, kills everyone else. But was he led astray by his wife and the three witches?
- Shylock – demanding a pound of flesh – literally – in payment of a debt is just mean, even in Venice.
- Iago – persaudes Othello that his wife is having an affair and gets them both killed. Nasty.
- Iachimo – thinks he is a ladies’ man but actually he is a cheat and thief who gets people murdered in Cymbeline.
- Tamora – she had every reason to be mad at Titus Andronicus but what she got Aaron to do in revenge was – well you can understand why the play isn’t performed often.
- Don John – Keanu Reeves mangled the part but that doesn’t detract from Don John’s deviousness in Much Ado About Nothing.
- Claudius – killed his brother then married his wife and drove his nephew, Hamlet, mad – after which things went from bad to worse.
- Edmund was not a good family man- made up lies about his half brother and didn’t care when his dad, King Lear, was blinded as he was busy messing about with Goneril and Regan.
- Caliban – son of a witch and possibly a fish, he plots to overthrow Propsero in The Tempest. Given the circumstances we have some sympathy but maybe you will disagree.