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        The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Side of Shakespeare’s Characters

        This series of videos from Shakespeare Uncovered examines the ways Shakespeare’s characters struggle with moral and ethical dilemmas. Including examples from The Tempest, Hamlet, Macbeth and Henry IV, Part One, this media gallery highlights how Shakespeare’s works depict the complexity of human nature through characters who are not purely good or purely evil but are capable of both at different times. The collection explores how the dark side of human nature emerges in even the most idyllic settings, examines the concept of honor, and questions where an individual’s evil comes from.

        Good vs. Evil

        This video explores the way in which Shakespeare uses the magical island in The Tempest to investigate how, even in the most idyllic setting, darker human instincts emerge.

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        The Betrayed Duke Prospero

        This segment describes the character Prospero and highlights the way he uses magic in The Tempest. The video introduces the fact that the play hinges on the moral question of whether or not Prospero will seek revenge against the people who have hurt him, given his human desire for vengeance and his supernatural powers.

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        What is Honor?

        In this video, Sir John Falstaff reflects upon the word “honor” prior to the Battle of Shrewsbury in Henry IV, Part 1.

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        Hal's Moral Compass

        This video highlights how Hal matures and changes over the course of Henry IV, Part 1 culminating when, fighting alongside his father in the Battle of Shrewsbury, they defeat Harry Hotspur and his rebel army. Actor Tom Hiddleston discusses how Hal’s moral compass changes as a result of fighting with his father and how he begins to view Falstaff as a coward and a liar.

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        The Driving Force

        This segment explores the source of Macbeth’s evil. It questions whether the witches merely predict what is going to happen or whether they influence Macbeth’s actions – is Macbeth himself evil, or are external, supernatural forces making him commit evil acts?

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        To Kill or Not to Kill?

        This video explores the scene where Hamlet sees Claudius praying alone and decides whether or not to kill him. Director Greg Doran talks about how, in his production of the play, he paused the action after Hamlet says “And now I’ll do it” in order to heighten the suspense. Tennant explains the reasons Hamlet decides not to kill Claudius in that moment.

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        Funder: Shakespeare Uncovered is made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the generous support of the project’s lead foundation sponsor, the Howard and Abby Milstein Foundation. Major funding is also provided by Rosalind P. Walter, The Polonsky Foundation, Virginia and Dana Randt, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, and PBS.
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