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The principal evil character in a play or story. The villain is usually the antagonist opposed to the hero (and/or heroine), but in some cases he may be the protagonist, as in Shakespeare's Richard III. The villains of English Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, especially in revenge tragedy, appear to be descended from the devils and the Vice in earlier morality plays. A more simplified villainous stock character appears in 19th-century melodrama, usually as a bewhiskered seducer. See also machiavel.

Subjects: Literature — Theatre.

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