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Is Don John a credible villain?
Don John is a believable villain because he is a bastard which means that in Elizabethan times Don John would have been seen as evil. Don John’s legitimate brother on the other hand is wealthy and well respected by everyone. Don John hates Claudio because Claudio has taken his position as Don Pedro’s right hand man. Don John even acknowledges his own evil and he also shows no mercy. Don John’s character doesn’t alter throughout the play, meaning he is only there to cause trouble.
Don John dislikes Don Pedro because Don John is the illegitimate brother, a bastard child. This means that he isn’t recognised by the court of Messina or by anyone. Although Don John is of royal blood, his royal blood would’ve been respected but not him. In those times, Don John would have had the social status of a prostitute. This is no fault of Don John, but only because his parents weren’t married when he was conceived. Don John is always so gloomy because he isn’t respected, he says to Conrade “There is no measure in the occasion that breeds, therefore the sadness is without limit”. Don Pedro the legitimate brother is highly respected by everyone and is probably very wealthy, Don John would have had nothing. Don is jealous of his brother because of all the admiration he gets from others. In Shakespearean times, everyone would have expected Don John to be evil because he was a bastard. No one would been surprised when Don John tried to ruin Claudio’s hopes of marrying Hero. In fact people would have expected Don John to do something evil. The fact that people expect him to do something evil makes him such a credible villain.
When the men went to war, Claudio proved himself to Don Pedro. Claudio took the position away from Don John as Don Pedro’s right hand man. This much to Don John’s displeasure, he says to Conrade “He has all the glories of my overthrow”. This means that Claudio is now best friends with Don Pedro and being called a hero by Don Pedro. A characteristic of a credible villain is a motive for their evilness, Don John’s is he is jealous of Claudio’s relationship with his brother. Don John tries to ruin Claudio’s happiness by claming Hero has been unfaithful. Don John also has henchmen, which is another characteristic of a villain.
Nowadays, it is hard to understand why it is so horrific that Hero isn’t a virgin(but she was). But in those times being a virgin until marriage was a huge thing. Hero would have been cast out of court and it would have been the end of her life. Although some women would have gone off to be nuns. Don John, knowing what would happen to her; carries out his plan to ruin Hero’s life anyway in order to hurt Claudio. The fact that Don John shows no mercy , is more evidence that he is a credible villain. Don John does not let his emotions get the better of him.
Don John is aware of his own evil, he says to Conrade “let it be known that I am a plain dealing villain”. Some could argue that Don John isn’t plain dealing because he is devious. If Don John wasn’t sneaky he wouldn’t really be a believable villain. Don John is plain dealing in the villain sense of the word. Don John also doesn’t care what people think of him, he says to Conrade “I would rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in anyone’s grace”. One could say that this quote is similar to Niccolo Machiavelli’s “It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both”. Don John isn’t liked by others, Beatrice says that “he suffers from a melancholy disposition”. Villains are normally disliked by others and Don John is also a bit mischievous which are characteristics of a villain.
Don John doesn’t have a big part in the play. But it is a comedy, not a tragedy; so the focus is not on the villains but on the resolution of the conflict. Don John’s character does not change throughout the play, which proves that he is a credible villain because he is only there to cause trouble. Don John’s soul purpose in the play is to cause trouble. The fact that he doesn’t change throughout the play proves that he is a believable villain. Villains are not real villains if they’re evil and develop into a good person later on in the play. Don John says to Conrade, “let me be that I am and seek not to alter me”. Don John likes being evil and does not want to change who he is.
Don is jealous of his legitimate brother Don Pedro. Elizabethans would have expected Don John to be evil because he was a bastard. Don John hates Claudio because he is now best friends with Claudio. Don John is merciless and does not let his emotions get the better of him. Don John displays hatred, envy, is hardhearted and is apathetic to people’s judgments of him. These characteristics are of a credible villain, although some argue that he isn’t a credible villain nowadays; he would of definitely been one in Elizabethan times. As Dante Alighieri once said, “Avarice, envy, pride, three fatal sparks, have set the hearts of all on fire”.