When it comes to William Shakespeare's tragedies, very few characters escape with their lives. Whether they be heroes, villains, or side characters present for comic relief, no one is spared the brutality dished out by the Bard's pen. The worst crimes in Shakespeare of course involve horrific acts of violence, but there's an extra element of terror when these misdeeds are placed in context. It's not just the fact characters meet untimely deaths or grisly mutilations. It's the string of betrayals behind such acts, often carried out by downright monstrous characters, that make Shakespeare's tragedies so chilling.
William Shakespeare’s tragedies include some of his best known works like Romeo and Juliet, Othello, and King Lear. However, many lesser known plays contain some of the playwright's most disturbing death scenes. What was likely Shakespeare's first tragedy, the rarely read Titus Andronicus, is one of his most violent works, filled with murders and mutilations that rival even Game of Thrones in terms of gore. If you never thought that the refined English poet would write about getting revenge through cannibalism, this list will be eye opening for you.
From pitting brother against brother to husband against wife, Shakespeare's tragedies spare no character as themes of lust, love, greed, and betrayal are picked apart by the Bard. Here are all the horrific crimes in Shakespeare plays. Make your voice heard and vote up the worst ones.
Lavinia may have had her tongue cut out and her hands cut off. However, she is still able to write the names of the two men who raped her by using a stick to write the names in the dirt. Once she reveals the names of Demetrius and Chiron to her father Titus, Titus sets a plan in motion that is so sick that it would even shock the most ardent modern day horror movie fanatics.
Titus tricks the Goth boys and gets them to stay at his house. The Roman General then slits the boy's throats, grinds up their bodies into meat, and bakes up the boys into a pie. But that's not all! Titus then serves the pie to the boy's mother Tamora, the Queen of Goths, to eat for dinner.
As part of an ongoing revenge plot against Titus, Demetrius and Chiron rape Titus's daughter Lavinia. In order to keep her quiet and prevent her from writing the names of her assailants, the Goth boys also cut out Lavinia's tongue and chop off her hands.
Following a 10 year war, General Titus returns from battle with the bodies of his two dead sons. He has the Queen of Goths, Tamora, and her three sons as captives. Titus believes in an eye for an eye and feels that he must sacrifice one of Tamora's sons for all of his men who died in the war. Because this is Shakespeare, who was really aiming for total shock violence in Titus Andronicus, Tamora's first born son Alarbus is the unlucky party chosen for sacrifice and the executioners do not go easy on him. They chop off his limbs and then burn his body in a sacrificial fire.
Coriolanus, a war hero, most likely should have been treated better by the Romans. He not only fought for them but was also able to arrange a peace treaty between the Volscians and Rome. However, instead of being treated like a hero, Coriolanus faces public execution for betrayal. Conspirators cut him into pieces after the angry mob yells out repeatedly to kill him.