It is intriguing to examine how many men in the plays behave dubiously. 

Dubious Men


  • Titus in Titus Andronicus.
  • Demetrius in Titus Andronicus.
  • Chiron in Titus Andronicus.
  • Aaron the Moor in Titus Andronicus.
  • Romeo in Romeo and Juliet.
  • Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet.
  • Hamlet in Hamlet.
  • Claudius in Hamlet.
  • Laertes in Hamlet.
  • Brutus and Cassius in Julius Caesar.
  • Othello in Othello.
  • Iago in Othello.
  • Edmund in King Lear.
  • Macbeth in Macbeth.
  • Richard III in Richard III.
  • Achilles in Troilus and Cressida.

Overbearing fathers

  • Capulet in Romeo and Juliet.
  • Mr. Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor.
  • Egeus (encouraged by Theseus) in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  • Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.
  • Portia’s father in The Merchant of Venice.
  • Baptista Minola in The Taming of the Shrew.
  • Duke of Milan in Two Gentlemen of Verona.
  • King Lear in King Lear.
  • King Cymbeline in Cymbeline.
  • Prospero in The Tempest.
  • Duke Frederick in As You Like It.

Insanely jealous husbands

  • (Othello in Othello.)
  • Posthumous in Cymbeline.
  • Leontes in The Winter’s Tale.
  • Mr. Frank Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Pompous and pedantic men

  • Don Adriano de Armado in Love’s Labor’s Lost.
  • Holofernes in Love’s Labor’s Lost.
  • Sir Nathanial in Love’s Labor’s Lost.
  • Robert Shallow in The Merry Wives of Windsor.
  • Malvolio in Twelfth Night.
  • Lucio in Measure for Measure.
  • Polonius in Hamlet.


  • Sir John Falstaff in Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, The Merry Wives of Windsor
  • Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night.
  • Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night.
  • Christopher Sly in Taming of the Shrew.

Cowards, liars, hypocrites, extortionists

  • Parolles in All’s Well That Ends Well.
  • Angelo in Measure for Measure.
  • Bertram in All’s Well That Ends Well.
  • Cloten in Cymbeline; attempted rape.
  • Sir Eglamour in Two Gentlemen of Verona.
  • Proteus in Two Gentlemen; attempted rape.
  • Iachimo in Cymbeline.
  • (Sir John Falstaff in Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, Merry Wives of Windsor.)

Men who get women pregnant out of wedlock

  • Gloucester in King Lear.
  • Richard the Lionheart in King John.
  • Claudio in Measure for Measure.
  • Launcelot Gobbo in Merchant of Venice.
  • (Aaron in Titus Andronicus.)
  • (Lucio in Measure for Measure.)
  • (Bertram, sort of, in All’s Well That Ends Well.)

Fickle men

  • Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  • Bassanio (a golddigger) in The Merchant of Venice.
  • Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing.
  • Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing.
  • Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing.
  • Cassio in Othello.
  • (Proteus in Two Gentlemen.)
  • (Romeo in Romeo and Juliet.)

Cruel men (besides the murderers)

  • Antonio the Merchant in The Merchant of Venice.
  • Don John in Much Ado About Nothing.
  • Duke of Cornwall in King Lear.
  • Thersites in Troilus and Cressida.
  • (Chiron and Demetrius in Titus Andronicus; rape and mutilation.)
  • (Titus in Titus Andronicus; murders his own son, cannibalism.)
  • (Launcelot Gobbo in The Merchant of Venice.)

Obnoxious, loudmouthed, or hot-headed

  • Gratiano in The Merchant of Venice.
  • Dr. Caius in The Merry Wives of Windsor.
  • Oswald in King Lear.

Men who usurp or kill their brothers, or attempt to

  • Duke Frederick in As You Like It.
  • Oliver in As You Like It.
  • Sebastian in The Tempest.
  • Antonio in The Tempest.
  • (Claudius in Hamlet.)
  • (Richard III in Richard III.)
  • (Don John in Much Ado About Nothing.)
  • Hamlet senior, as Ghost in Hamlet.


  • Abraham Slender in Merry Wives of Windsor.
  • (Christopher Sly in Taming of the Shrew.)
  • Gremio and Hortensio in Taming of the Shrew.
  • Thurio and Launce in Two Gentlemen of Verona.
  • Anthony Dull in Love’s Labor’s Lost.
  • The six rude mechanicals in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  • Dogberry and Verges in Much Ado About Nothing.
  • Silvius in As You Like It.
  • Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night.
  • Ajax in Troilus and Cressida.
  • Elbow, Froth, and Pompey in Measure for Measure.
  • Borachio and Conrade in Much Ado About Nothing.
  • (Prince Cloten in Cymbeline.)
  • Trinculo and Stephano in The Tempest.

A name in parentheses indicates this person is in more than one category.

This list does not include many of the men in the history plays where most of the betrayals, murders, lies, etc., are historical fact.

I would there were no age between sixteen and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting—Hark you now! Would any but these boiled brains of nineteen and two-and-twenty hunt this weather?

Old Shepherd in The Winter’s Tale