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Shakespeare's presentation of the character of Richard III

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Introduction

Shakespeare's presentation of the character of Richard III If an actor wants to star as Richard III in a play he must first know all there is to know about the character of Richard III. For example Richard's behaviour, the way he thinks and reacts, these are all aspects of Richard's character. The actor must know these because Shakespeare gave very few stage directions in his plays, therefore if an actor wants to make an impressionable performance he must understand the way Richard's character, to understand this one must look at how Shakespeare was trying to portray the character of Richard III. The first soliloquy is split into three parts. The first part deals with his clever word play 'our bruis�d arms hung up for monuments' which is a fancy way of saying we no longer use our weaponry. Another example of his word play would be when he uses 'man' to address Brackenbury. Brackenbury uses 'your grace' implying some sort of respect towards the person being addressed but Richard uses 'man', which is mocking or at least degrading as Brackenbury is being referred to as a common man. Not only this but a few lines further down Richard puns on the word 'nought', meaning nothing, with the word 'naught', meaning to have sex with. Therefore mocking Brackenbury again as Richard is implying Brackenbury's sexual exploits. These examples clearly show how much control Richard has over his speech and also his disliking of Brackenbury. In this part of the play Shakespeare also expresses Richard's disliking for the Queen as Richard refers to her as 'My lady Grey' because before the Queen was married to the king she was the widow of Sir Thomas Grey therefore in a way Richard hasn't accepted the fact that Elizabeth is now Queen he still classes her as someone not of royalty. The first part of the soliloquy starts with 'now is the winter of out discontent'. ...read more.

Middle

The audience is merely more impressed and also enjoy what is happening because they know what is going on and so can relish in his wit. A significant part in the play is when Anne spits at Richard; however I could only spot one part of his character being portrayed at this point. I could see that Richard does not loose his temper at that point in the play and throughout the play he doesn't really loose his temper, to me this shows that he is in control of his emotions and can manipulate them when necessary. Finally Richard woos Anne; I'm not sure, is Anne gullible in the sense that she was able to be won over by this murderer whom she hated so much or does this scene display Richard's irresistibility and charisma. Although Richard has already shared his plans to kill Clarence with the audience the murder of Clarence comes next, in scene 4 but actually starts at the end of scene 3. Clarence's murder just shows Richard's ruthlessness and his willingness to stop at nothing to gain the crown. Not only this but when the murderers ask for the death warrant for Clarence I believe that it is significant that Richard had enough forward planning to already have the death warrant in his possession shows his planning and therefore his intelligence. Or it shows just how much his mind is devoted and even paranoid about the idea of gaining the crown that he already has the death warrant ready. I believe the most significant thing about Clarence's murder, apart from the fact that his brother killed him, is his dream. Clarence's dream is essentially his own self exploration which is split into four parts. The first part is about the pain of drowning, the second; the wealth on the sea bed. The third is about the uselessness of this wealth and the fourth; his return to pain. ...read more.

Conclusion

The fact that Olivier chose to emphasise the crown so much clearly depicts Richard's total obsession with it and that this obsession is the main point of the play according to Olivier. The McKellan version of the film portrays Richard as Hitler this in itself shows how ruthless and willing to kill Richard I thought to have been. Having said this, Richard never committed any of the murders himself and he also had nightmares where all the people that had bee murdered through him haunted him. I believe that Shakespeare was trying to display a slight amount of humanity left in Richard through these two facts. I, however, believe that in this play Shakespeare is asking the question is Richard evil because he is deformed or is he deformed because he is evil? Because of his constant referral to Richard's evil crimes, through the various characters, and the fact that Richard's deformity is also highlighted, through various characters including his mother. Finally I would like consider the historical influences that could have shaped Shakespeare's writing. Henry VII claims to the throne were insecure. His ancestral lineage was through a woman. Therefore it was essential for Henry VII and his son Henry VIII to destroy Richard's reputation. During Henry VII's time writers stressed that Richard was a usurper and a murderer. In Henry VIII's time two histories were written Sir Thomas More's and (through request from Henry VIII) Polydore Vergil's history. These versions of the facts were Shakespeare's resources, all written through the Tudor's, all considering God's involvement. Since they were superstitious times I believe Shakespeare would have believed that the 'historical documents' were correct as Henry VII did gain the throne, he wouldn't have if he didn't deserve to. Another major factor in Shakespeare's writing was the fact that he was also writing during the reign of a Tudor and so wouldn't write anything negative about her father. Shehram Khattak 1 ...read more.

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