Manchester Metropolitan University's Research Repository

Keywords that characterise Shakespeare’s (anti)heroes and villains

Archer, Dawn and Findlay, Alison (2020) Keywords that characterise Shakespeare’s (anti)heroes and villains. In: Voices of the Past and Present - Studies of Involved, Speech-related and Spoken. John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 31-46. ISBN 9789027207654


Download (381kB) | Preview


This paper undertakes a keyword analysis of seven Shakespearean characters: Titus, Tamora, Aaron, Lear, Edmund, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. The paper discusses how, once contextualised, these keywords provide useful insights into their feelings/thoughts towards others, events, motivations to act, etc. In terms of findings, only Aaron denotes his “villainy” directly. Tamora, in contrast, draws upon a keyword that is denotatively positive; in context, though, “sweet” reveals her womanly wiles. “Weep”, for Lear, and “legitimate” and “base”, for Edmund, problematize their status as (one-dimensional) villains. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth draw upon grammatical keywords, “if” and “would” in ways that signal something about their (deteriorating) emotional and social positions as much as their villainous intentions.

Impact and Reach


Activity Overview

Additional statistics for this dataset are available via IRStats2.


Actions (login required)

View Item View Item