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"How far do you agree that we are moved to sympathy, even to admiration, by Richard's journey to awareness?"

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Introduction

"How far do you agree that we are moved to sympathy, even to admiration, by Richard's journey to awareness?" Because King Richard is the eponymous character of this play, it is his emotional journey which readers follow in details. Through the play, numerous traits of his personality are clearly exposed, giving readers plenty of evidence on which to form opinions. In the opening scene of the play, Richard at first comes across as an authoritative ruler, with full control over the situation and an evident sense of fairness and justice. This gives readers scope to feel admiration for him, because he is apparently displaying vital qualities in a good monarch. However, it is not long before Richard slips up and allows his weakness to be exposed. After regally announcing, "We were not born to serve, but to command", he immediately falters and adds "Which since we cannot do..." This shows from the beginning that Richard is not a king capable of impressing us with authority and strength of mind, which I found to weaken the chance of me admiring him. ...read more.

Middle

I cannot, however, feel admiration for Richard. The way in which he hands over his reign, with no logical reasoning, is enough to make me see him as clueless, overreacting, and not in control of his own mind, let alone a country. The quick changes of emotional outlook, for example when he moves from hopelessly speaking of "the deaths of kings" to announcing his divine rights and believing himself to be capable of anything, make him appear over-the-top, false, and insincere in his apparent strong emotions. In the director Mark Rylance's interpretation of the play, he played Richard as a dithering idiot, encouraging the audience to laugh at him like an indecisive child. While many viewers and critics of this performance disapprove of this characterisation, I thought it was effective in making us realise how hopeless, lacking in authority, and frankly idiotic Richard acts in various scenes of the play. In Act V, Richard's soliloquy while locked up alone, stripped of all power, should have the potential to make readers feel sympathy for him. ...read more.

Conclusion

Shakespeare would have written this play to be performed before Queen Elizabeth I, not only as an educational history lesson but most likely also as a lesson in successful monarchy. His portrayal of a king would have shown her how NOT to act as a reigning monarch. Richard is easily defeated, confused by reality, and all too often wallowing in self-pity. Ultimately, Richard is only human, and his vulnerability makes it impossible for me not to feel a certain amount of pity for him, at times. Therefore I agree that his journey moves readers to sympathy. However, as well as being a human, he is also a ruler of a country, which should make him authoritative, confident and in control. In my opinion he is none of these. A fool with no grasp of reality is dangerous when given power. Richard has too many weaknesses and flaws which are revealed in this play, traits which do not provoke respect. Therefore I cannot agree that I am moved as far as admiration for Richard. ...read more.

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