William Shakespeare is not just a playwright, poet, and actor, but undeniably the world’s greatest dramatist and a significant landmark in the history of English literature who lived the era between the Middle Ages and Industrial Revolution (1564-1616). He was such a prolific playwright that all his characters give an impression of being so real to life, universal and eternal. His works are not just applicable to his time but to all-time irrespective of ages, faiths, and geographical bounds. Hence, Ben Johnson, in one of his poems, quoted Shakespeare as someone who is not of an age but for all time. Even after 456 years, i.e. more than four centuries, we can visualize the reflection of his work and the traits of his characters in the people around us as even today they stand the test of time fearlessly. William Shakespeare is one such timeless writer who has written about almost every human relationship that exists in this universe. Like his personal life, his professional life was also filled with scandals and so were his literary characters, some of which won angelic badge whereas some are as bad as demons that they have all the common human follies. So even if you haven’t come across any of Shakespeare’s work, you will still be able to relate with the characters. Here is a list unlocks 7 of the most toxic and prescient characters ever shaped by William Shakespeare.
1. Shylock in Merchant of Venice (1605)
One of the most important characters of one of the remarkable plays of William Shakespeare, Shylock, is a Jewish moneylender. He is such an indifferent and cold character of Shakespeare that despite losing his wife to heaven and almost lost his daughter to Christianity, his vindictive nature persists, and out of that vindictiveness, he asks a person a pond of his flesh when he is unable to pay the debts. But all he redeems, in the end, is people’s hate and loss of his wealth that he earns by lending money on excessive interest.
“All that glitters is not gold”
2. Lady Macbeth in Macbeth (1606)
Another significant character of William Shakespeare, Lady Macbeth is a domineering wife and a woman whose greed and desires know no bounds. She is such a self-indulged character that she doesn’t even think twice before taking someone’s life. To her, her ambitions are supreme and to accomplish them, she may go to the bitter end. And not just this, she also dragged her husband into the conspiracy. She, together with her husband slain the King in his sleep and assures her husband to become a king. But in the end, guilt-ridden, she commits suicide.
“Out, damned spot!”
3. Marcus Brutus in Julius Caesar (1599)
“You can’t be friends with someone who wants your life”. These words of Oprah Winfrey fits Marcus Brutus, a supreme yet vicious character of William Shakespeare, perfectly. He is more of a gullible than a cruel friend. Albeit a friend of Julius Caesar, Brutus becomes part of a plot that is devised against Caesar. He doesn’t stop here and becomes the one who finally stabbed Cesar and turned the public against him. But then what? Nothing! Like the previous character of William Shakespeare, Brutus has to embrace death and commit suicide.
“Men at some time are masters of their fates”
4. Othello in Othello: The Moor of Venice (1603)
Othello is an epitome of gullibility presented by William Shakespeare in the form of another paramount character. He is someone who becomes weak of ears at the hands of his soldier friend, Lago, and suspects his wife of having an illegitimate love affair with another man. Lago, on the path of taking revenge against Othello, manipulated him against his wife. Othello, instead of confronting his wife, believes Lago. And inflamed by the fuel puts into nurture the seed of jealously that Lago sows in Othello’s mind against his wife, he kills his wife and later ends his own life out of repentance.
“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-eyed monster”
5. King Lear in King Lear (1608)
Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you”. King Lear is one such character of William Shakespeare, who, in the craving of self-admiration, loses his true virtues. Having three daughters, he divides his kingdom between his two daughters and their suitors, who woo the king with their honeyed words, and King gets flattered. The third and the youngest daughter who loves her father with all her heart gets disownment. But in the end, what he gets from his two daughters, between whom he divided his wealth, in return is dishonor and disgrace. Eventually, the youngest daughter becomes back to him. King Lear is known to be the greatest tragic hero who got more than what he deserves.
“Nothing will come of nothing”
6. Claudius in Hamlet (1609)
The wickedest characters of William Shakespeare, Claudius presents the finest example of strife among family, greed lurking in the hearts of human beings for the property and extent of brutality one could inflict upon his own family to usurp it. From the killing of his brother to conspiring against Hamlet, he crossed all limits of cruelty. Claudius marries the widow of his deceased brother, which makes Hamlet doubt his mother. When Hamlet suspects him for his father’s murder, he even tries to poison Hamlet. But as evil begets evil, so begets his death.
“What a piece of work is man!”
7. Caliban in The Tempest (1610-1611)
Slave of the former Duke of Milan, Caliban is one of the most disloyal and rogue characters created by William Shakespeare. He conspires to the killing of his own master. But his master, the former Duke of Milan, is protected by Ariel, a spirit and hence screws conspiracy curated by Caliban. Though the play doesn’t have a tragic end, it does have tragic characters like Caliban.
“Let your indulgence set me free”
These characters of Shakespeare are woven in a thread of greed, jealousy, envy, and whatnot. What is shared among all these characters is that in the end, they all have bear the brunt of karma. None can escape Karma! Neither did they (the characters of Shakespeare referred to in the article), nor can we.