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Analyse and comment upon, the extent to which Richard III is a successful politician.

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Introduction

Analyse and comment upon, the extent to which Richard III is a successful politician. (With close reference to the 1996 film adaptation starring Ian McKellan, directed by Richard Loncraine) Shakespeare's Richard III is set in England after the War of the Roses. Richard, the megalomanic eponymous character, is desperate for the throne of England. He tells us that he seeks the crown to compensate for his deformity (he was a hunchback from birth). Richard has his own brother killed and later has former allies and those who still stood in his way killed also. When Richard eventually gains the throne he finds his conscience and begins to feel insecure, he has the two Princes he has locked away killed. Nobles are horrified by his actions and establish a rebel force lead by Richmond. During the Battle of Bosworth Field Richard is defeated and killed in hand to hand combat with Richmond, who then takes the throne and becomes King of England. The word 'political' can have more than one meaning. The Oxford English Dictionary has a few definitions of political and politician: 1. Of, relating to, or dealing with the structure or affairs of government, politics, or the state. 2. Relating to, involving, or characteristic of politics or politicians: 3. Interested or active in politics. 4. Having or influenced by partisan interests: The court should never become a political institution. ...read more.

Middle

Up until the end of the play Richard does not appeared bothered about the killings. "Cousin [Buckingham], thou wast not wont to be so dull. Shall I be plain? I wish the bastards [two princes] dead," Richard even implies that Buckingham is being 'dull' and boring: he does not seem to realise that Richard want him to kill the Princes. Richard has to be blunt and say what he wants straight out yet Buckingham still refuses to do it. Richard knows where he is going and what he is doing, as shown by his soliloquies, "Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams To set my brother Clarence and the King In deadly hate" (1, 1, 32-35) Like many modern day politicians, Richard has no problems with blatantly lying to peoples' faces, including his own family. When Clarence is being sent to the tower he tells him that he loves him and will help him, it is only when Clarence leaves that Richard reveals his true intentions, "That I will shortly send thy soul to Heaven---" (1, 1, 119) Richard has many short term aims to help him achieve his long-term goals. Some of these aims include getting rid of Clarence, removing the Prince's, marrying Anne, and killing those who stand in the way of him. Richard can wind people up, influence them and so uses this to his advantage. ...read more.

Conclusion

Richard and Richmond have no exterior help and have to use each other's weaknesses to their own advantage. This can be compared to the recent Bush v Kerry debate. Bush and Kerry are running for president, Richard and Richmond are competing for the throne. All need to prove themselves and attempt to defeat their rival. It can be said that Richmond is Richard's nemesis, the opponent that cannot be beaten or overcome. Richard can be described as political but was he successful? Richard did, eventually achieve his goal, gaining the crown yet lost it after only two years. It could be said, therefore, that Richard was not a success as he was killed although he failed militarily rather than politically and had succeeded up to that point. As Richard failed as a soldier, he could still be called a successful politician. Political could also mean artful, ingenious, unscrupulous and cunning all of which can be applied to Richard at some point during the play. Richard is sly and gets away with treason, a crime punishable with death, he manages to put the blame on other people and avoid punishment himself. This could be considered successful, as he was never caught. Going back to the criteria for a politician it can be said that Richard is definitely a politician "one who seeks personal or partisan gain, often by scheming and by manoeuvring" but it is difficult to say whether he was successful or not. ...read more.

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