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The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked 

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Updated June 14, 2019 3.7k votes 692 voters 28.1k views 32 items

This is a list about the best Shakespeare villains; it answers the question, “Who are the bad guys in William Shakespeare’s plays?” Every play has a hero and a villain: who, in your book is the top villain of all-times in one of Shakespeare’s plays?While most villains are purely evil, the interesting thing about Shakespeare is that his villains are not always overtly evil. Some of them seem to only be facing a moral dilemma of sorts; they’re not the typical in-your-face evil plotters like other stories usually have. As a result, a lot of Shakespearean villains play very subtle roles.

In addition to characters that are dubbed a villain but don’t play the typically evil roles that we think of when we hear that term, Shakespeare’s best plays also included some of the most notoriously evil characters in history, including: Richard III, Iago, Cornwall and Aaron the Moor. He was also notorious for making the audience fine sympathy for the bad guys (like Julius Caesar). The up-and-down emotions he caused the audience to feel are what made him famous. Shakespeare was also known for making his villainous characters seem incredibly real, struggling with common problems we each face like jealousy, heartbreak, greed and bitterness. He seemed to thrive on showing his audience the ironies of being judgmental since we are each the same in the end.
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26
Claudio is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
david-p-griffith added Much Ado About Nothing
27
Falstaff is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
Henry IV
28
Puck is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
A Midsummer Night's Dream
29
Borachio is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
Much Ado About Nothing
30
Lancelot Gobbo is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
Lancelot Gobbo The Merchant of Venice
31
Hamlet is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
Hamlet
32
Katherine is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Shakespearean Villains, Ranked
The Taming of the Shrew