which shakespearean character would the cast of love island be?
O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou fake tan?
Stills from Love Island and Romeo + Juliet
Love Island is the Shakespearean drama of our era. Fact.
In each episode, we see poetic romance, dramatic irony, stomach-twisting hubris. We watch the the happy couples sit in romantic contentment, if but for a moment, knowing full-well host Caroline Flack will soon drop another batch of sexy silicone-infused personal trainers and bubbly makeup artists into the villa to cause chaos. We see "green-eyed monsters". We see Hailey telling everyone Eyal’s breathing made her mouth gag, without expecting to be caught. Pure Shakespearean drama tbqh.
While medieval-era spectators would stand at the bottom of the theatre with pints of beer, wailing and jeering at the actors, we instead sit beneath our laptop screens, messaging our Love Island group chats with aubergine emojis, before-and-after plastic surgery pics and interviews with ex-girlfriends in OK! Magazine.
If you still need convincing that ITV2 is giving us something akin to that of what William Shakespeare gave the good people of 16th century Britain, here is every Love Island contestant's Shakespearean equivalent.Jack: Romeo from Romeo and Juliet
Jack and Dani are our Romeo and Juliet. When Jack lays back on those luminous pink bean bags, his teeth so white they sting through your retina, his skin baking in the sun like a slow-cooked kebab, describing his sweetheart Dani as a “peng sort”, it reeks of the pungent romance of Romeo, beckoning of his love: “But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun."
Jack is romance incarnate. If Dani was voted out the villa, Jack would leave, just like when Romeo drank the poison upon seeing the sapped body of Juliet curled up at the foot of a tomb. Yes, Jack would give up his boohooMAN sponsorship deals and guest appearance on TOWIE just to stay with his beloved. Wouldn’t he? Pretty sure he would? His ex has come in now though, hasn’t she?
Dani: Juliet from Romeo and Juliet
It might not seem like it, but Jack and Dani are star-crossed lovers -- both from big, sprawling Essex family dynasties warring in the style of the Montagues and Capulets. Rather than a bloody duel with noble men, when Jack meets Mr Danny Dyer [Dani's dad], instead he'll find an enraged Eastenders actor with a popped collar. Danny will pick Jack up by the scruff of his neck and shove him against the nearest wall. “You treat my Dani like the fackin' princess that she is,” he'll shout.
Dani won’t have it much easier, Jack’s mum Glenda, a walking asymmetric blonde bob, is fiercely protective. Making her son lasagne tray bakes and freezing them so he never has to cook, folding his underwear up for him and nestling his face into her breast. “He’s a lovely boy, our Jack”, she tells her friends, thick white nails clawed around a mug of milky tea at all times. No, Dani will never be good enough.
Will they be able to stay in love? Or will Jack and Dani be torn apart by rival families selling stories about each other to The Sun: “My only love sprung from my only hate,” as they say.
Megan: Iago from Othello
Iago literally invented the concept of being a snake. He wins lovely Othello’s trust and through evil whispers, pollutes Othello’s mind, convincing him that his wife Desdemona is cheating on him, until Othello strangles her on their marital bed and stabs himself. Iago, I truly believes, lives on in Megan. Just watch her pry Wes from Laura’s well-manicured fingers. We saw her plant the seeds of destruction: “It’s pretty obvious, like I do really fancy you” she told Wes, batting her eyelashes under the fluorescent blue light of the Love Island balcony. “She’s a lot older and earlier she said in here she’s looking for a husband… like you’re twenty and you’re so fun”. Giggling, leg-rubbing and asking for kisses, Megan is bred from the same slithering cloth as Becky with the good hair.
Wes: Macbeth from Macbeth
Macbeth’s fatal flaw -- or ‘hamartia’ -- is that he’s not comfortable in the role of villain he assumes under pressure from his wife. After killing Duncan, Macbeth is alienated from his own being: “To know my deed, ’twere best not know myself”. Macbeth is too ambitious to allow his conscience to stop him from murdering his way to royalty, yet too conscientious to be happy with himself as a murderer.
Wes might appear to be comfortable as a villain, but that’s because he's been corrupted by the master of manipulation, Megan -- aka Aphrodite in a bikini and cork heels. Wes is meant to be with Laura. Can't you just see the pair of them drinking espresso martinis together in All Bar One? Captioning images of one another, "this one"?
But, upon seeing Megan laying it on factor 50 thick on the other Alex, Alex M -- the pair exchanging sweet “I just feel so comfortable around you like”s -- he soon realises Megan was simply manipulating him, dragging him into carnage, much as Lady Macbeth did Macbeth. I like to think Wes is actually far too self-conscious to be content with himself as monster.
Laura: Desdemona from Othello
Most scholarship on Desdemona presents her as weak and submissive when affronted by Othello’s jealousy. In reality, she backed herself hard, unleashing terse fury after Othello strikes her: “I have not deserved this”. Who could the Venetian princess have more in common with than a flight attendant from Scotland? The self-assured, melancholic confidence Laura exhibits when she is done listening to Wes’s apology is very Desdemona (“You can go now”). But while Desdemona is strangled in her martial sheets, Laura is able to continue checking out semi-pro footballers under aviator sunglasses.
Alex: Count Paris from Romeo and Juliet
Alex is Count Paris in Romeo and Juliet, aka the guy Juliet dumps to get with Romeo. Dr Alex just can’t understand why any women won’t get with him after expressing a shred of human decency towards them. Just because you say “Oh well, I mean, I just think we -- we, can I ask you, if, maybe you just perhaps try to maybe get to know me?” JUST BORE OFF ALEX.
Adam: Henry VIII from Henry VIII
Adam has done nothing but enrapture the women of the villa. He might look like an ad for Zara Man -- all black suede jackets and statement zips -- but to them he is the literal definition of “tall, dark and handsome”. Who is Adam but Henry VIII aka the original player? Now Zara has been booted out, Adam is literally licking his lips for when the next girl arrives: “I mean, I’m not going to lie, she’s a really good looking girl”.
Rosie has a bit more poofed-up, hair-flicking sass than Katherine of Aragon, sure, but she expressed similar levels of fury at her slighting at the hands of a lover. “Hath my behaviour given to your displeasure, that thus you should proceed to put me off and take your good grace from me?” The enduring message of Rosie and Katherine is essentially the same. Men are trash.Zara: Anne Boleyn from Henry VIII
At least all Adam’s castaways don’t end up beheaded?Georgia: Rosalind from As You Like It
Rosalind from As You Like It is cheeky, playful and courageous. Subverting the limitations society imposed upon her, she has grown to become one of the most likeable of Shakespeare’s heroines. Just like Georgia -- remember when she ran around pranking everyone? Massaging sun cream into Jack’s back whilst Dani side-eyes her from the distance. Pouring water over Laura’s face, ruining her perfectly pencilled eyebrows. Bombing into the pool, dangly jewelled earrings and all, remaining unfazed when the other girls snarled over their prosecco with stinging resentment. The Love Island villa is Georgie’s idyllic Forest of Arden and she frolics through it like a mischievous woodland creature.Samira: One of the three witches from MacBeth
Samira is a pot-stirrer of supernatural proportions. In fact, I am surprised she didn’t say “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble”, when encouraging Megan to get with Wes. She also has the gift of foresight, commanding Alex to wear sun cream before he becomes indistinguishable from a raw chicken breast.
This guy has reached the comedic reflexivity of a Shakespeare character with his eyebrows alone. If you haven’t seen them -- one fat and short, the other long and thin -- they are clearly the result of last minute panic. Lunging at his stray hairs with a Bic razor only hours before entering the villa. I know because I did it in Year 8, right before applying Bobby Brown concealer to my lips. Sam is slapstick, physical comedy at its best.
Eyal: Jaques from As You Like It
Eyal is the sort of guy who would perform at a spoken word evening, stand in silence for the whole duration and think it was a profound and moving performance. He is the human embodiment of an anklet. He would trap you in the corner of a kitchen at a house party, asking you if you think drugs can open up your mind and reply to each and every one of your replies with, “but don’t you think that is subjective?” All his talk of auras, spirits uniting humankind and ruminations into what the stars are trying to tell is basically the Tumblr version of Jaques’s famous speech: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”, except everything Eyal says sounds basic, and something you would found superimpose onto a sunset stock photo upon a fridge magnet.