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Is Richard III a hero or a villain

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Introduction

Is Richard III a hero or a villain? A hero is defined as "a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability, an illustrious warrior, a person- a man admired for noble achievements & qualities (e.g. courage), the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work". A villain is defined as "a scoundrel, rascal; also a criminal, a character in a story or play whose evil actions affect the plot". I feel as if I should define "antihero" as this could be a relevant term for Richard. An antihero is defined as "a protagonist who lacks traditional heroic qualities (e.g. courage). The question is very relevant to the character of Richard. I believe this is because he encompasses two personalities, which in itself makes him villainous, but also makes him a character of several dimensions. Certain qualities fall into the categories of "villainous" & "heroic" but Richard's character is not simply one or the other, since he embodies characteristics which fall into both categories. During Richard's life, there was a great lack of political stability. The Wars of the Roses (which lasted 30 years) was fought between the houses of Lancaster (red rose), & York (white rose). ...read more.

Middle

& want loves majesty...since I cannot prove a lover...I am determined to prove a villain and hate the idle pleasures of these days" (lines 16-31, act 1 scene 1). This language shows his jealousy "want loves majesty", his deep resentment "rudely stamped", & how instead of living & letting live, he is determined to spoil the lives of others enjoy himself in the process "since I cannot prove a lover...I am determined to prove a villain", showing how he is vindictive, certainly a villainous quality. I think it is important that he uses the word determined, showing it is his true intent, & more importantly, all this language shows his actions were not spur of the moment, but pre-meditated, & well thought through. I know it is off the subject but Ian Mckellen gave this impression on screen- intelligent, not insane, & thinking very clearly, showing his true intent. This is the way I perceive Richard, & these qualities are villainous. In his pleading (& twisting) conversation with Anne, Richard shows he is manipulative & audacious. He says to her "Your beauty was the cause of that effect; your beauty: which did haunt me in my sleep" he has the audacity to turn his heinous crimes around on her, when a real hero would show remorse, & be pleading for forgiveness, having told the truth. ...read more.

Conclusion

Richard questions Buckingham's manhood & from this point on suspects him up until he kills him. This is perhaps a main factor in whether Richard is a hero or a villain. Because he is so ungrateful, ruthless & backstabbing to kill the person who did a lot of work in getting him where he is, it could classify him as a real villain. However, Buckingham could have been perceived by the audience as a sly, greedy character who had no relationship with the audience, & so deserved his death for being ambitious, yet not completely unflinching. The audience may take Buckingham's murder as a sign of Richard's ruthlessness, or slight cheekiness, & so does not classify him as an outright hero or villain in itself. Overall, my personal verdict is that Richard III is a villain. His evil actions & two-faced character contribute to his being a villain. His brazen evil & his relentless back stabbing cannot possibly classify him as a hero. Granted, he can be an endearing character to the audience, but Elizabethan audiences would have regarded his deformity as a curse, & would have ridiculed him for this. I believe Shakespeare wrote the character of Richard as a villain, someone who the audience hate to love, & it does portray the Tudors as the rightful heirs to the throne. ...read more.

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