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How Genuine was the Relationship Between Richard and Buckingham?

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Introduction

How Genuine was the Relationship Between Richard and Buckingham? The 'friendship' between Richard and Buckingham is an important storyline in this play 'Richard III' and could be used to demonstrate how Richard sees all his 'friends' or associates. Looked at simply, Richard seems to be merely using Buckingham in exchange for help in achieving his goals without any hint of real affection. However, examined more closely, is there a point in the play where Richard feels genuine enjoyment with his relationship with Buckingham? In this essay I am going to be exploring the nature of this relationship chronologically throughout the course of the play. We first meet Buckingham in ACT 1, SCENE 3 when he is party to the hostile gathering in which old Queen Margaret curses almost everyone in the room. He is an able politician as well as a powerful nobleman and is discreet and apparently non-committal in this first scene. He is clearly well known and respected by those present in the room and so is put in a very awkward position when Margaret - by refraining from cursing him and instead offering the hand of friendship as "Thy garments are not spotted with our blood" - forces Buckingham to choose sides. The problem is this: if he sides with Margaret, he escapes from her curse; however, since everyone else in the room have already been cursed and are therefore firmly against Margaret, he would lose their valuable friendship. Throughout the Scene Buckingham has been very quiet and respectful towards everyone - trying to agree with everyone's point of view. ...read more.

Middle

It is also clear that Richard trusts and respects Buckingham's intelligence enough to confide in him all his deepest secrets and plans. Now, the question is: what does Buckingham think of Richard? I think that at this point Buckingham is actually using Richard for his own objectives. He knows Richard's aims to be king and thinks that he can raise his ambitions and position in society by association with Richard. Shakespeare uses Buckingham in this part of the play in place of all the soliloquies Richard had at the start of the play. Instead, he now confides in his confidant- Buckingham - who then conveys the information to the audience. Nevertheless, I think that it is at this point that the two really begin to enjoy this friendship together. ACT 3, SCENE 2 is a relatively small scene where the only relevant part is when Hastings talks to Buckingham about staying for dinner at the Tower of London and Buckingham uses a knowing 'Aside', saying: "And supper too, although thou knowest it not!" He knows what Hastings' fate is and this comment was to show the audience that he is very definitely close to Richard and knows about his most secret plans. This scene (ACT 3, SCENE 4) is where the double-act begins to become clearer. It is the meeting with all the influential politicians and noblemen including the Bishop of Ely which is to end with the declaration of Hastings' death! In this scene we see the deliberate plotting behind the speeches by both Richard and Buckingham. For example, when at the very beginning of the scene Buckingham denies the fact that he knows Richard well and suggests that ...read more.

Conclusion

This makes it pointedly obvious to the audience that Buckingham is now on dangerous ground and that he has angered Richard. Buckingham suddenly realises the parallel between himself and Hastings and escapes as soon as possible. Unfortunately, he later gets captured by Richard's army and shares the same fate as was promised him by Margaret's curse and his own oath. Richard returns to working alone without consulting or plotting with any other character. Shakespeare returns to using soliloquies to inform the audience of Richard's personal thoughts, feelings and plans. Finally, having examined the course of the relationship between Richard and Buckingham thoroughly, I believe that theirs was not a genuine friendship. Richard began consulting and confiding in him at the beginning because he thought that he could be easily manipulated so as to be useful to Richard's ultimate aim and Buckingham merely wanted to raise his social position through association with Richard. The end of the relationship was very unemotional to Richard and Buckingham was just dropped as soon as there was any hint of a problem with the orders he was to follow. However, I also believe that, around the point when they conspired together to bring about the downfall of Hastings and the scene afterwards (ACT 3, SCENE 5) where they distract suspicion away from themselves by play acting being terrified for their lives, were points when temporary enjoyment was had from the relationship by both parties. I believe that there was a very short time when Buckingham and Richard enjoyed each other's company and friendship but overall, it was not a genuine friendship because they were both using each other for their own purposes. ...read more.

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