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'Is Richard III a 'bloody tyrant and a homicide' or 'a man of great and diverse gifts''.

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Introduction

Mrs Godly - English Set 1 James Taylor 11MA October 2002 'Is Richard a 'bloody tyrant and a homicide' or 'a man of great and diverse gifts'' 'Richard III' has fascinated generations of readers; they have found themselves seduced by his brilliance with words and his persuasive emotional manipulations even though most are repelled by his evil. Characters in the play realise his evil but are still caught out with his crafty word play and dissembling nature. Written in 1593 as a sequel to 'Henry VI parts one, two and three, which focused on the wars of the roses. 'Richard III' was used as propaganda material for the Tudors. The play damns the previous reigns of the York and Lancaster houses, the Tudors used it to promote how much better England was under their rule. Shakespeare used the chronicles of Edward Hall and Raphael Holinshed as sources of historical material for 'Richard III'; although these historical sources were adapted from Sir Thomas More's 'History of Richard III'. However, More's unfinished work deals with the rise of Richard and so Shakespeare used Halls and Holinshed's works for Richard's decline. 'Richard III' tells the story of how the intelligently evil Richard Duke of Gloucester schemes his way to the throne of England. The play starts as the civil wars end, however, the Duke of Gloucester finds himself 'discontented' in peacetime, so he starts to plot against the throne. ...read more.

Middle

it is the end of the Plantagenet's reign, as Richmond, a Tudor, becomes King. Here Elizabeth refers to Richard as 'the tiger' this follows the seam of savage animal metaphors, others including 'boar'. Shakespeare uses these to characterise and describe Richard's deformity throughout the play. The death of Rivers (one of the nobles) is proof of how craftily Richard worked and manipulated his victims. In Act 1 Scene 3, Rivers praises Richard for being: 'A Virtuous and Christian-like conclusion To pray for them that have done scathe to us' However, the irony is that Richard then sends Rivers along with the other nobles to their deaths. On the way to their deaths, Grey, another noble, and Rivers have a conversation about Margaret's curse being the cause of their death. 'GREY: Now Margaret's curse is fall'n upon our heads When she exclaimed on Hastings, you and I For Standing by when Richard stabbed her son. RIVERS: Then cursed she Richard, Then cursed she Buckingham, Then cursed she Hastings. O remember God,' This shows how totally unaware of Richard's plot and blame the cause of their deaths on Margaret. Richard brilliantly covered his tracks and plotted secretly and wittingly in order to gain access to the throne. However, his Machiavellian ways ensure his downfall. Another victim of Richard's, Hastings, is lulled into a false sense of security. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, from the events that have been studied I have concluded that he is both. Richard is clearly a 'bloody tyrant and a homicide', like many other major historical figures such as Hitler or Stalin, he had a plan for complete power. Although, to achieve this there must be no opposition. Much like in Stalin's Great Terror where he killed anybody who he thought could pose a threat, Richard killed anybody who would challenge his accession to the throne. Although, a tyrant this was unusual for the times, both Richard's predecessors and successors were tyrannical rulers. However, for Richard to do this involved planning and care. Richard used his gifts of crafty rhetoric and manipulation. Richard is able to encourage confidence in others around him, without letting them know they are destined for death at his hands. We must also sympathise with Richard in the play because we know 'Richard III' was written as Tudor propaganda and so his deformity and character would have been hugely overemphasized to make the Tudor's rule seem superior. In conclusion, Richard is both a 'bloody tyrant and a homicide' and 'a man of great and diverse gifts'. Without these gifts he would never have been able to gain access to the throne because he would have been stopped before he had a chance. With his gifts he was able to create a smoke screen, with which he was able cover his tracks until he was able to reach the throne. ...read more.

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