What marks consummate villainy is the willingness to be absolutely evil-to have no qualms about being diabolical and no strains of human morality. Because feeling for another leads one to experience guilt, even an iota of empathy is a character flaw that will lead to the downfall of a villain. To succeed, the villain needs to emulate the character Iago in Othello, who consistently works his evil throughout the whole play and does not slip until the end, when there is simply no way he can turn the situation to his advantage. Iago is a model for the ultimate villain because he operates on a self-styled level of morality, such that he never doubts his actions, however diabolical the actions seem to the audience. The rational person is capable of this emulation, for rationality is the ability to reason out a new and yet coherent order: a new order of values and beliefs that constitute his own system of mores. Convinced of this self-devised system, the villain is able to convincingly impose it upon others and therefore, to manipulate them towards advancing his cause. Reason also empowers the villain with an aptitude for discerning an order in the midst of chaos and turning adversity into good fortune.
With a self-defined strand of logic and reasoning, the villain fashions a code of 'ethics' and 'morality' fitting to his purposes, which makes his malice tolerable to him. The rational mind can utilise logic and reasoning to arrange values and beliefs in an order that is credible, and therefore irrefutable to the self. Reasonable, therefore believable and irrefutable-this customised moral code is convincing, and from this conviction, the villain will not be bothered by the morality ...
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Frye, Northrop. Fools of Time: Studies in Shakespearean Tragedy. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1967.
Greenblatt, Stephen. "Introduction to Macbeth." The Norton Shakespeare. New York: Norton, 1997. 2555-63.
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