4Cornwall Goes Reservoir Dogs on Gloucester
The title character in King Lear is a man who has grown senile in his old age, and splits his kingdom amongst his two oldest daughters, Goneril and Regan. But corrupted by power, the two daughters decide to go after the old man.
"I'm a terrible father! Woo!"
At this point, Regan's husband (Cornwall) gets a hold of one of Lear's friends (Gloucester). He then ties Gloucester to a chair and plucks out his eyes with his bare hands.
Later productions would do it with a ballpoint pen, as hands are so old fashioned.
As if this wasn't bad enough, Cornwall and Regan are guests in Gloucester's house when they do this, making every time your brother crashed on your couch and ate all your Hot Pockets seem like Christmas morning.
Though Cornwall might not have even gone this far if his wife and her sister weren't standing on the sidelines egging him on like a couple of deranged cheerleaders:
Regan: Hang him instantly!
Goneril: Pluck out his eyes!
-- King Lear, Act III Scene vii, Lines 4-5
Cornwall takes one out, but this is only half a job for Regan.
Regan: One side will mock another, t'other too!
-- King Lear, Act III Scene vii, Line 70
"Well thank God they took both out, Lear, or I'd really regret what I was seeing right now."
In the end, Cornwall finishes Gloucester's amateur optometry session by plucking out his other eye, untying him and sending him out into the English countryside where a huge storm is brewing, effectively ending Gloucester's plans of opening a bed and breakfast in the East Wing.
"We were going to have a CHAMPAGNE BRUUuuunnnch ..."
3Everyone in The Merchant of Venice Hates the Jews
In The Merchant of Venice, Shylock is a successful Venetian merchant and rival to Antonio, another merchant. After being unable to pay Shylock back for the terms of the loan he agreed to, Antonio and his friends use disguises, deceit and an insane legal loophole to steal all of Shylock's money, give it to his son-in-law and force Shylock, a devout Jew, to convert to Christianity.
And exit, chased by small children.
Antonio and his buddies hate Shylock for the mere fact that he's Jewish, but also because he charges usury, or a fee on money he lends out. You might recognize this as an interest rate, or, what every bank in the world has charged on loans for hundreds of years.
Banks are evil. Who knew?
As if spitting on Shylock in the street and undercutting his business practices (Antonio lends money interest-free at a loss just to screw with him) aren't bad enough, Antonio is stupid enough to agree to Shylock's terms when he needs a loan: pay the sum back in full, or Shylock gets a pound of Antonio's flesh. Let's just be glad that Shylock's descendants didn't start credit card companies.
We like how he's unspecific about which pound. Here, it's obviously his nipple.
When the day comes for Antonio to pay up, Antonio has a friend's girlfriend pose as a lawyer and take control of the proceedings. On a technicality, she declares Shylock is in contempt of the court and therefore all of his assets are forfeit. To add insult to injury, Shylock is forced to convert to Christianity on the spot, even though Shylock begs for death before losing his religion.
"Didn't you see the description of the play? It's a comedy, asshole. Convert."
Incidentally, this plot point was inserted as a happy ending for Elizabethan audiences, who would see the degradation and destruction of the faithful Shylock and his subsequent conversion to Christianity as evidence of Shylock's soul being saved.