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'In his depiction of Richard III Shakespeare has created much more than a simple theatrical villain.' Discuss

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Introduction

RICHARD III 'IN HIS DEPICTION OF RICHARD SHAKESPEARE HAS CREATED MUCH MORE THAN A SIMPLE THEATRICAL VILLAIN.' DISCUSS Richard is a cruel, corrupt, manipulative, ruthless murderer; as well as a master of deception. However he is not just a trunk of the most evil qualities. Outwardly he appears to be a deformed monster, yet he is as cunning and determined as the cruellest of villains, his rhetoric is beautifully agile and his wit is of the darkest kind, yet he remains greatly entertaining. The manner in which he achieves his goal is quite superb, reaching the throne not purely by butchery but also exploiting the weaknesses of those around him. Richard is a tyrant brought up in a background of betrayal and civil unrest; however, what makes Shakespeare's portrait so entertaining is Richard's humour and wit. Richard III is a multifaceted study of political aspiration and corruption. The majority of Shakespeare's information about Richard III came from Holinshed's Chronicle, first published in 1578 in it Richard is described as many things. He was described as being witty however Holinshed also described him as weak, '...in bodie and prowesse'. This shows where Shakespeare obtained the image of Richard being deformed. Holinshed also described Richard as being. ' malicious, wrathfull and enuious'. Therefore we cannot blame Shakespeare for the image that he grafts on Richard, however, it did not do Shakespeare any harm in slightly corrupting the true image of Richard. When Shakespeare wrote Richard III Elizabeth 1st was on the throne. She was a direct descendant of Henry 7th otherwise known as Richmond in the play. Therefore Shakespeare could do no harm in saying that the monarch's ancestor was a great, noble man who fought against evil and succeeded. In this way I believe that it is acceptable to regard Richard III as a piece of pro-Tudor propaganda. Richard III also deals with a key political issue. ...read more.

Middle

When lady Anne firstly begins to think Richard is a cruel, corrupt, picture of evil she expresses this when she says: 'Villain, though know'st nor maw of God nor man: No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity' Richard counters this by 'playing innocent' McKlellan's acting in this scene was superb and he was very convincing as being innocent, and so he says, 'But I know none. An therefore am no beast' When he states this Lady Anne finds this deeply amusing that someone of Richard's evil could possible be kind. She gets worked up and says that it is 'wonderful, when the devil tell the truth!' It is then when Richard finally says his supreme line to win Lady Anne over, 'More wonderful, when angels are so angry. Vouch safe, divine perfection of a woman,' In the rest of the scene Richard threatens to take his own life if lady Anne does not love him and in this way he woos her over. This shows how corrupt Richard is if he thinks that he can woo a woman after killing her father and husband, however even more corrupt may even be the fact that he succeeds. The next major scene is Act III scene 4, which is at first about the meeting of the council and eventually Hastings's death. The scene starts with the council being in session. Richard, distracted by his own superstitions withdraws to confer with Buckingham about Hastings. They re-enter the council room, he is enraged and is clamouring about plots against himself, it is at this point when Hastings unfortunately speaks reassuringly to Richard. It is at this point where Richard shows how merciless he truly is; Richard accuses Hastings of protecting the supposed plotters and sentences him to death. It is notable that Richard exploits anything, in this case superstitions: 'Look how I am bewitched; behold, mine arm Is like a blasted sapling wither'd up. ...read more.

Conclusion

When Richard's Jeep gets stuck in the mud Richard utters the famous words, 'A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!' Richard is then pursued to the top of the power station by and eager Richmond who is carrying a revolver in his hand. When they confront each other Richard utters the following words and throws himself off the top whilst he is falling music plays and Richard plummets to his death with a sly grin fixed upon his face, 'March on, join bravely, let us to't pel-mell, If not to heaven, then hand in hand to hell.' The fact that Richard was in control of his own destiny and killed himself is another, very 'theatrical villain' like move. Hitler and his regime have obviously been implemented in the film and like Hitler Richard instead of letting his enemy have the pleasure of taking his life he took his own. In conclusion, there are many qualities that make Richard so resistible to any audience, a modern audience can understand and associate him to many modern commanders and the classical audience could dream of a leader like Richard. Richard is full of the qualities it takes to be an excellent villain; he has charisma; he is self-confident; he is merciless and he is exceptionally funny. His cold heartedness just adds to his humour and this is what makes him so enjoyable to watch. Hi wins over the audience's admiration my addressing them directly in his soliloquies. He is a master of deceit and in many ways, yes, he is a classical theatrical villain. However, there is something that separates Richard from the rest. Maybe it is his excessive cruelty, his ability to crack a joke while plotting his brother's death, or his ability to get what he wants. It is difficult to name exactly what makes Richard different however, one thing is for sure; it is the kind of difference that is uniquely Shakespearean in its depth and complexity. Mufadal Jiwaji - 10T 30th October 2002 1 ...read more.

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