Recently I read (I think it was in Bloom’s “Invention of the Human”) that Claudius does not count as one of Shakespeare’s better villains, because he basically only does one bad thing (which most normal men could also be capable of), and feels guilty for it.
Sure enough I get back from vacation and About.com has their favorite villain poll up. I think this one is skewed a bit, though, as they bill it as “favorite” villain and then in the actual poll call it “most notorious”. I’m thinking that most peole just recognize Iago better than anybody else. How many casual Shakespeare readers could identify Titus Andronicus at all, much less compare Aaron the Moor against Cornwall from King Lear? Iago’s the easy answer.
Claudius, by the way, is not on the list.