Don John Character Analysis

1481 Words6 Pages
How much of who we are comes from inner predisposition, from personal destiny, or from mere interpretation? Is someone obliged to become a hero or villain by virtue of their existence, or are heroes and villains molded over time with an outcome that could potentially have gone either way? Analysing the preconceived ideas of Bastardy in Elizabethan society, it can be seen that the illegitimacy of Don John, “Shakespeare’s most passive villain” is the root of his villainy. Prejudgment, to pass judgement without sufficient reflection, can lead us to misconceptions and error that may transform the image altogether. This pre judgemental attitude of Messina towards his birth circumstance plagues Don John, crafting him to be an arguably uninteresting…show more content…
As freely gifted to his brother, he would never receive the same money, status or respect. With aspects out of his control defining his life, Don John’s source of bitterness and motivations to spoil other characters happiness become clear. However it can be argued that he is rendered an underdeveloped and uninteresting antagonist when compared to the likes of the cunning Iago or valiant Macbeth. This is justifiable considering the focus of the comedy is to display the comic and follies of misunderstanding. His brooding and sullen nature reveals his cowardice in that he is too caught up in self pity to better himself, so he resorts to bringing others down with…show more content…
As a foil to the light-hearted characters, Don John's trickery aims to cause suffering and misery, thus inducing the harshest punishment. Meanwhile other trickeries in the play such as Beatrice and Benedict being tricked into falling in love serve to make things better for the characters or make comedy, reflecting his clear contrast from society. When Don Pedro learns of his brother’s flight from Messina and involvement in the plot against Hero, he declares, “He is composed and framed of treachery” deeming his brother evil through and through without ever considering the hardships which Don John confronts owing to his illegitimate birth. By recalling such somber character in his melancholy and pessimism as the play draws to a close, Don John being excluded from the festivities renders the play a pure comedy no longer. Making a point of reminding the audience that he will never be able to have a positive interaction with society, Shakespeare draws attention to the underlying issue. As Benedick heartily proclaims, “Think not on him till tomorrow, I’ll devise thee / brave punishments for him. Strike up, pipers”, Don John is completely pushed from their minds. Leaving us with his imminent punishment, Messina’s hypocrisy is only more emphasized. A quickly dismissed and marginalized victim of society, Don John seems the only to not be excused from punishment

More about Don John Character Analysis

Open Document