Analysis Of Villains And Protagonists In Much Ado About Nothing By William Shakespeare

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Villains and antagonists often prove to be some of the most interesting characters in literature and fiction. Examining their motives can provide greater understanding of the way individuals think as well as highlighting flaws in society or in cultural values. In act one scene three of Much Ado about Nothing, Shakespeare introduces Don John as the play’s antagonist through foreshadowing, divulges vital information to understand his character, evokes compassion for Don John from the audience, and delivers insight into the reasoning behind his villainy.
Though Don John, or John the Bastard as he is referred to in the stage directions, first enters the play in the opening scene; however, the audience learns little about him other than his familial
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Conrad’s comment clarifies the underlying tension of the scene by revealing the fundamental problem in the relationship between Don John and Don Pedro; John recently rebelled against his brother. This revelation foreshadows Don John’s role as the antagonist. His history of being at odds with his brother in addition to his obvious dissatisfaction with his current predicament indicates that he may turn against his brother again. Don John openly declares to Conrad, “I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose / in [Don Pedro’s] grace” (1.3.24-25). The brothers may have reconciled, but clearly against Don John’s will. The terms of the reconciliation are revealed when Don John explains, “I am trusted with a muzzle and enfranchised with / a clog,” (1.3.29-30). This statement proves that Don John lost his rebellion against his brother and is now essentially a prisoner. By Don John’s own admittance and other comments, the audience understands he is determined to thwart his brother whenever possible. Don John’s confirms his role as the antagonist by admitting, “it must not be denied but I am a plain-dealing villain” (1.3.28-29). He willingly confesses to being a villain. Having …show more content…
As he speaks to Conrad, Don John insists, “I cannot hide what I am: / I must be sad when I have cause, and smile at no man’s / jests; [ … ] laugh when I am merry, and claw no / man in his humor” (1.3.11-16). Not only does Don John openly admit to being a villain, he instructs Conrad, “In the meantime let me be that I / am, and seek not to alter me” (1.3.32-33). Don John insists on being acutely honest about his emotions and needs rather than hiding them as others might. His refusal to kowtow to others’ expectations of his actions and feelings makes him a particularly likable and venerable

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