Don John lets us glimpse into the mind of men who try to stir up trouble. He says, “I cannot hide what I am: I must be sad when I have cause and smile at no man's jests, eat when I have stomach and wait for no man's leisure, sleep when I am drowsy and tend on no man's business, laugh when I am merry and claw no man in his humour.” He is simply following the whims of his physical being, and he acknowledges that he is a “plain-dealing villain.” In this play, Shakespeare helps us understand the ways of those who try to create discord.
Those attempting to do evil:
- will use ignorant people to hurt others
- can lead good men astray
- can sometimes reveal the true nature of those around us
- desire to make others unhappy for the sake of making others unhappy
- will use half-truths to create a believable lie
- do not care whether you “deserve” something or not
- can be overcome if good people will stand up to the evil
Ways to effectively combat evil:
- education and wisdom
- search for confirmation of suppositions
- maintain a strong moral code
- have appropriate relationships
If Claudio and the Prince had only slowed down and tried to sort out the facts. If they had tried to seek justice or truth instead of revenge, Claudio would never have publicly humiliated the woman he professed to love. Don John’s plan would have been overturned much sooner and come to nothing. Maybe the play wouldn’t have been as interesting, but I think they all would have been happier.