Richard Iii Essay, Research Paper
William Shakespeare wrote hundreds of plays with thousands of characters, some good some evil. But out of all of Shakespeare’s villains none stick out more than Richard of Gloucester, or Richard III. The play itself was written in 1593 and is the last story about the struggle between the Houses of York and Lancaster. However, the story is not as well known as it’s main villain, Richard of Gloucester. He has become a symbol for evil throughout history and the only one or one of few who could out do Machiavelli. His personality is so complex and diverse that you could have the opportunity to write volumes of books about just a few of his traits; his boundless ambition, his misguided but great intelligence, his defiance of God, his acceptance of evil, his physical deformities. All are interesting and make Richard a great villain yet it is his ability to ‘play the part’ that Richard may be best known for. Richard is arguably one of Shakespeare s greatest actors. He disguises his evil intentions through various scenes by acting accordingly Throughout the play the possibilities to label Richard as playing a part are numerous, however his best parts include the Machiavellian Prince, the devoted brother, the witty wooer, and the masterful political manipulator. Richard is as actor with great flair. His brilliant soliloquies teach us of his evils and how he proposes to accomplish his goals. His best part or act may be as the Machiavellian Prince. The book The Prince was published in 1513 and details how to be a tyrant. Since then it has become a guidebook for villains and a symbol for the diabolically cunning. Richard himself tries to out do Machiavelli. He is ruthless in his ascension to the throne, killing anyone who stands in his way. Some specific examples of Richard s ruthlessness should be examined in order to understand the degree to which Richard pursues the throne. Richard turns his back on everyone in the play, (or stabs them in the back). However the way he turns on Hastings, one of his prime supporters, is a prime example of his Machiavellian tyranny. In Act III scene IV Hastings feels as if he knows the Duke s heart. Richard leaves the room peacefully and when he returns he is in a rage that Edward s widow Elizabeth is plotting against him along with a member of his present company. He then turns to Hastings and asks what he should do to those conspiring against him. Hastings response, I say, my lord, they have deserved death Little does Hastings know that he is the one being accused of conspiring against Richard. This is a dramatic turn of events but as Richard no longer has a need for Hastings he will just kill him. Richard portrays other Machiavellian acts throughout the play. His accusations that Edward, his recently deceased brother s, children are illegitimate, and the killing of his other brother Clarence. As well as his eventual turn on his last ally Buckingham. Even after in Act III scene V Richard teaches Buckingham how to be treacherous and deceitful. And in essence teaches Buckingham how to be more like himself. Richard is so evil that he can kill his own brother with a nearly clear conscience. His ability to play the part of the devoted brother and play it well is what gives him the confidence to kill and destroy everything in his way. Richard has two brothers, Edward, the King, and George the Duke of Clarence, who is always referred to as Clarence. By the end of Act II both are dead. Richard kills Clarence and further promotes the poor condition of Edward by telling him of the death of Clarence. Richard plays the role of the devoted brother as well as any other part. The first time we see Richard as a concerned brother is an Act I scene I as Clarence is being escorted to jail. Richard acts very naively as to why Clarence is going to jail and they both come to the conclusion that it has to do with Edward s wife, Elizabeth, and his mistress, Jane Shore whom Richard proclaims to be witches. Richard show general concern for his brother and vows to get him out of jail any way he can.
Brother, farewell: I will unto the King;And whatsoe er you will employ me I, Were it to call King Edward s widow sister, I will perform it to enfranchise you. Meantime, this deep disgrace in brotherhoodTouches me deeper than you can imagine. (lines107-112) But again we learn Richards true feelings and intentions through his soliloquies and asides. Go, tread the path that thou shalt ne er return. Simple, plain Clarence! I do love the so That I will shortly send thy soul to heaven. (lines117-119) In the first quote we believe that Richard is true and genuine in his concerns for his brother yet the second quote proves that Richard is just playing the part. Perhaps Richard s most remarkable accomplishment or feat in any scene throughout the entire play is his ability to win the hand of Lady Anne. Lady Anne was married to Edward, Prince of Wales, and was the daughter in law of Henry VI, two men that were killed by Richard. This is one of Shakespeare and all of literature s greatest scenes. This scene opens and Lady Anne is escorting the body of Henry VI heaping curses on the murderer she implores God to punish him: Let any child of his be born prematurely and prove to be monstrous; if he marry, let his wife endure the misery of his death. Little does she know she is cursing herself. Richard enters and begins to play the part of the witty wooer. Anne begins to curse and scorn him , even spit on him but he is not to be deterred. He pleads his case, declaring that if he is guilty of Henry and Edward s death, he had been motivated solely by his desire to possess her beauty. When she denounces him, ..foul toad. Out of my sight! Thou dost infect my eyes. (line 148) He retorts with a witty comment that her beauty makes him weep. However the quintessential point of their argument is when Richard offers Anne his sword and invites her to kill him. This is the turning point for Anne, Richard has won. Richards s evil but great acting ability is so evident here. Richard does not really desire Anne; what he enjoys is successfully wooing a lady whose husband and father-in-law he has killed. Richard does not truly woo Anne because he loves her but for political gain. This brings forth Richard last dominant character, the Politician or Political Manipulator. This is were Richard spends most of his time. As a prime candidate for the throne Richard must align himself in certain places as well as overcome other obstacles as a political manipulator one of Richard s main goals is turn everyone against one another. A prime example of this is how he turns everyone against Elizabeth, Edward s widow. His ability as a political should never be questioned. In the play he is able to clear a path to the throne in under a month. He clears his way past two older brothers and a widowed Queen, as well as their children. He gains the support of the Mayor of England and clears out anyone who questions him or supports the former Queen Elizabeth. Most of his actions can be tied to this act because Richard s final goal is the throne. He plays the role of the witty wooer so that he can marry Anne. But the question that needs to be asked is, Why does Richard want to marry Anne? Yes it can be said that he does it to admire his skills but he marries her because she is powerful, owns plenty of land, he needs an ally like her. ` Richards s ability to accomplish his goals with relative ease makes you wonder why he didn t keep his power. However this being A Shakespearean tragedy Richard must reach the throne and from there must fall from power and die. Even today we use Richard as a standard for what a villain should be. His ability to accomplish his goals using Machiavellian tactics is unparalleled to anything else in literature. His acting ability is also amazing as is evident throughout the entire play Richard III was one of Shakespeare s greatest actors.