A Comparison of Evil in Richard III, Titus, and Romeo and Juliet

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Evil Within and Evil External in Richard III, Titus, and Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare's villains seem to fall into one of two categories: those who are villainous of heart (inherently and genuinely evil or Machiavellian) and those who are circumstantially turned antagonists. Richard III's carefully plotted plans to usurp the throne contrast heavily against Aaron's (of Titus Andronicus) rambling which contrasts with Aaron's lack of action. The motivations of these two characters are different however. Richard seizes the opportunity to take over the throne by Machiavellian means when presented with the opportunity. Aaron represents the evil presumed of a "godless moor," his character being a symbol as much as his skin colour particularly to an audience familiar with the conquests.

Tamora is truly more evil than Aaron. She is the one who commands her sons to rape and cut up Lavinia leaving her dishonoured, with two bloody stumps for hands and no tongue with which to tell the tale. Aaron suggests that he tutored the sons in their behaviour (Act V Scene I Lines 99-111):

Indeed I was their tutor to instruct them.

That coddling spirit had they from their mother,

As sure as a card as ever won the set;

That bloody mind I think they learn'd of me,

As true a dog as ever fought at head.

Well, let my deeds be witness of my worth:

I train'd thy brethren to that guileful hole,

Where the dead corpse of Bassianus lay;

I wrote the letter that thy father found,

And hid the gold that within that letter mentioned,

Confederate with the queen and two sons;

The audience never witnesses Aaron's supposed teachings however, nor is it likely that if he were to continue living as before that he would commit the acts he pledges himself to as he is to be hanged (Act V Scene I Lines 125-144). Aaron talks of evil and trickery, while Tamora lives its epitome, marrying herself into the queen-ship of the conquering tribe. When presented with his child Aaron does care for it, and only agrees to speak upon the condition that it shall be saved. This insight into his character makes him seem almost a worthier person than Titus who murders his own sons. The villain shows more care for his kin than the hero does for his. This serves to make Aaron a more realistic villain by making him more human.
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