Oliver Kohns
University of Luxembourg
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The Loneliness of the Villain: Shakespeare and Schiller
Dedalus 24 (2020), pp. 177-188. Download PDF

As my paper wants to show, loneliness is a characteristic of dramatic evil. Shakespeare’s Richard III represents the prototype of the lone villain. In the opening scene of the play, the protagonist explains his ‘villainous’ behavior with his exclusion from society. Richard’s loneliness, which is only superficially substantiated by his ugliness, fulfills several dramaturgical purposes. By being complicit with the public (via a shared enjoyment of cruelty), a perspective of an extradiegetic overcoming of his loneliness is opened. Schiller’s drama “Die Räuber” follows Shakespeare’s reflections on loneliness and villainy. Franz Moor is an intertextual successor of Richard III: He too is isolated by his greed for power. In contrast to Shakespeare’s play, however, the political setting is much smaller: Moor doesn’t fight for the English crown, but only for the annihilation of his family. In this sense, Schiller re-stages the drama of the lonely villain in the genre of bourgeois tragedy.
Keywords: Loneliness, Shakespeare, Schiller, villain, political philosophy, violence