Shakespeare and Revenge

Welcome to the dark side of Shakespeare. You didn't think he was all sonnets, roses, and romantic Romeos, did you?

AuthorShakespeare - William Shakespeare
British LiteratureShakespeare
FormPlay
LanguageEnglish Language
Literary FormsPlays
Literary TopicsAuthor Highlights
LiteratureBritish Literature
Shakespeare

Transcript

00:27

The thing with revenge is, it's kind of like a steamroller... it flattens everything in

00:32

its way…

00:33

…whether it’s your desired target, or those fluffy kittens who were just crossing

00:37

the street.

00:38

Thankfully, Shakespeare's bloodthirsty characters don't have access to heavy machinery, but

00:42

most of them end up mowing down the innocent along with the guilty.

00:46

Iago takes down his frenemy, Othello, but his wife doesn't really get to celebrate with

00:51

him, since she's so busy… getting stabbed. Richard III basically develops a 5 year plan

00:57

devoted to spreading misery and despair, and all without the services of a personal assistant.

01:02

It's easy to boo these two model citizens, but what about those with righteous causes,

01:07

like Hamlet, who starts stabbing blindly and tapestries, and Titus, who likes to… cook

01:12

with young people?

01:13

If your family member was hurt or killed, and the evildoer was still waltzing around

01:17

scot-free…

01:17

… would you be able to let it go?

01:19

If you were in the Prince of Denmark's shoes… and stylishly matching hose… a little payback

01:21

would be hard to resist, even without spectral encouragement.

01:23

Justified or not, once revenge has been freed, it's hard to get back in the cage.

01:28

It's having way too much fun chasing cars and leaving land mines in your neighbors’

01:32

yards.

01:32

Maybe that's why so many of Shakespeare's plays end in piles of bodies.

01:37

Shakespeare always seems to side with karma.

01:41

If you decide to go vigilante, the chances are good that you’ll get served in the end.

01:46

Richard III bites it on the battlefield, and while Iago doesn’t croak, he’s definitely

01:51

grounded for the whole summer.

01:53

You’d think Hamlet and Titus would at least get credit for just cause, but Titus’ cooking

01:57

goes sadly unappreciated…

02:00

…and Hamlet dies with his enemies, all at once, like Shakespeare forgot he left the

02:06

iron on or something.

02:08

Most of these guys end up getting their way, but not until “the circle of revenge”

02:12

is complete.

02:13

The few characters that survive are lucky to be left standing when the curtain drops.

02:17

No way to deny it, Shakespeare knew his way around a grudge.

02:20

His characters don’t mind breaking a few eggs, as long as they get that really delicious

02:24

revenge omelette with a side of crispy angst.

02:27

Villains like Iago and Richard III leave no stone unturned and no handkerchief unburgled

02:32

in their quest for mastery…

02:33

…but in the end, they go down just like the good guys.