There are some heartwarming relationships between master and servant (Lear/Kent, Hamlet/Horatio, the brothers Guiderius and Arviragus in Cymbeline, or the odd relationship between Antonio and Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice or Sebastian and Antonio in Twelfth Night), but most of the relationships between men in the plays are destructive, especially as compared to the intimate relationships between women.

Male Relationships


  • Henry V executes five of his friends (three noblemen who were about to betray him, Cambridge, Grey, and Scroop; and two drinking buddies, Bardolph and Nym) and he turns his back on his great pal Falstaff in Henry V.
  • Richard III has his brother George and his friend Buckingham murdered (as well as lots of others, of course) in Richard III.
  • Macbeth has his best friend Banquo murdered, attempts to have Banquo’s young son murdered, and murders his friend Macduff’s entire household, including wife and children, in Macbeth.
  • Romeo inadvertently causes the murder of his best friend, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, then murders his wife’s cousin.
  • Leontes accuses his best friend Polixenes of adultery with his wife and plots his murder in The Winters Tale.
  • Hamlet has his two school friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, murdered in Hamlet.
  • Othello is destroyed by his trusted friend Iago in Othello.
  • Tullus Aufidius betrays Coriolanus in Coriolanus.
  • Proteus tries to steal the girlfriend of his best friend, Valentine, and attempts to rape her in The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
  • Iachimo lies to his friend Posthumus about sleeping with his wife inCymbeline.
  • Bertram betrays his cowardly friend Parolles into making a public idiot of himself in All’s Well That Ends Well.



There’s no trust, no faith, no honesty in men—all perjured, all forsworn, all naught, all dissemblers.

Nurse in Romeo and Juliet

Company, villainous company, hath been the spoil of me.

Falstaff in 1 Henry IV