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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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'In his depiction of Richard III Shakespeare has created much more than a simple theatrical villain' Discuss In Shakespeare's Richard III, Richard is undoubtedly a monstrous villain set out to seize the throne of England for himself in any way possible. He does this by ruthlessly killing people in line for, or even anything to do with, the throne. Shakespeare, however, albeit historically inaccurate, has created a man much more than what meets the eye. Behind his physical deformities lies a man of extreme intelligence and wit, who is very shrewd and crafty. He is a villain, but much more than an average villain. He is a deeply malicious monster yet significantly wise and perceptive. He gains the throne not simply by butchery but by intelligence and exploiting the weaknesses of those around him. The play tells us lots more about him. The opening speech made by Richard, probably one of the most famous speeches, informs us initially of the background to the play and sets the scene. It is a soliloquy - a speech delivered by a character alone on the stage to the audience. The opening four lines, containing at the start one of the two most well known lines in plays, tell us that the War of Roses between the House of Lancaster and the House of York is now over, and that Richard's house (the House of York) has prevailed and triumphed as the ruling house of England: Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer by this sun of York; And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house In the deep bosom of the ocean buried In these four lines, Richard's eldest brother Edward is the 'sun of York' who has brought 'glorious summer' to the kingdom because the recently ended civil, shown by 'the winter of our discontent', war has brought about the House of York to the throne of England. ...read more.


The way he sees the funny side of Heaven accepting any gift from his evil hands let alone the soul of his murdered brother shows us his wit as well as his malevolence. His humorous side captivates us, even when he knows what he is doing, and we love the idea that he can make a joke at the worst of times. On the other hand, we are disgusted by his delight at the fact he is having his brother murdered just so he can become king of England. However, we, as the audience, are drawn in by his attractive side. Act three scene four is Richard's council session in the Tower of London. Hastings asks the councillors why they are having the meeting, and it is to discuss the date on which Prince Edward should be crowned king. Richard arrives smiling warmly but Buckingham takes Richard aside to tell him what Catesby has construed - Hastings is loyal to the Princes and is unlikely to go along with any plans Richard is willing to offer in order to gain power. When Richard re-enters the room, his mood changes entirely. He pretends to be very angry and enraged, displaying his arm and deformity as a whole. He speaks about it in a forceful way in front of everyone, trying to use it as a tool to gain sympathy from his adversaries: Look how I am bewitch'd; behold, mine arm Is like blasted sapling wither'd up. And this is Edward's wife, that monstrous witch, Consorted with that harlot strumpet Shore, That by their witchcraft thus have marked me As people in those days believed strongly in witchcraft, he is implying that Queen Elizabeth and Lady Shore must have cast a spell on him to cause his withering arm. When Hastings hesitates slightly, mainly because he simply cannot believe that is true from just hearing a few words from Richard, Richard condemns him and summons his execution: HASTINGS: If they have done this deed, my noble lord- GLOUCESTER: If? ...read more.


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Find in myself no pity to myself? There are many short sentences and many exclamations also. The first two questions above give him the horrible revelation that a murderer is in the room and that he is it. He is uncertain to be afraid of himself, almost wary. His lines produce the effect that the ghosts were hinting at - that is a considerably different person than he first imagined. He suddenly recognises he is a murderer. The statement 'Richard loves Richard; that is, I am I' is very powerful, asserting his own self-identity, then later realising that he loves a monster. After Richard has noticed the scary thing he has become, the divide between his former self and his present self grows to be even more clear and apparent to us all. His question immediately is whether to commit suicide but that is withdrawn from his mind, as he says he loves himself. He then later realises 'I rather hate myself / For hateful deeds committed by myself'. In the end, Richard turns to other people and grieves over his isolation: I shall despair. There is no creature loves me; And if I die no soul will pity me: And wherefore should they, since that I myself Find in myself no pity to myself? With these words no one, not even he, sympathises with him. Richard is psychologically and mentally in anguish and pain. He is no longer confident of himself and his mind has broken down to shreds. Shakespeare captures this moment marvellously. Angry and desperate, he tells Ratcliff what he has been through. Ratcliff, however, fobs him off and says there is no need to worry. Although he manages to put aside his terror the next day on the battlefield, the sensation of who he really is haunts him still. For Richard, we know, and he knows, that the end is near. In the moments leading up to the battle, both Richmond and Richard make speeches or orations to their respective armies. ...read more.

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