• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

This excerpt is taken from the very first act of Shakespeare's play 'Richard III', and it exemplifies just how, throughout the play, Shakespeare portrays the king as a vile and despicable character.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

"Cheated of feature by dissembling Nature, Deform'd, unfinish'd, sent before my time Into this breathing world, scarce half made up And that so lamely and unfashionable That dogs bark at me as I halt by them; Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace, Have no delight to pass away the time, Unless to spy my shadow in the sun And descant on mine own deformity: And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover, To entertain these fair well-spoken days, I am determin'd to prove a villain And hate the idle pleasures of these days." This excerpt is taken from the very first act of Shakespeare's play 'Richard III', and it exemplifies just how, throughout the play, Shakespeare portrays the king as a vile and despicable character. This image of Richard has captured the imaginations of many and there is no doubt that he had been vilified and castigated across numerous generations: condemned as the evil villain who contrived to have his brother drowned in a butt of wine and his nephews smothered in the Tower of London. However, is this impression of King Richard really valid? Can this picture, painted in words by a man who wrote them over one hundred years after Richard's death, be the definitive account of the person and character of this frequently reviled king? To answer these questions one must look beyond Shakespeare's brilliantly written prose and search for true examples of Richard's personality. The Quest to ruin Richard's Name Though Shakespeare created the most vibrant images in his telling of Richard's life, his play can still only be viewed as fictional. It must also be taken into account that, though Shakespeare's characterization of Richard, as one of the most brutal and malicious of English kings, endured well past his death, it is a fact that his work is merely a continuation of the propaganda begun by Henry Tudor and his most devoted supporters after their victory at the Battle of Bosworth. ...read more.

Middle

and to his nephew Edward V as well, by arresting the Woodville conspirators, who had brought Edward V up and who wanted to rule through him when he was crowned. However, this could also be viewed as Richard's attempt to get rid of any opposition to his ensuing actions. Nonetheless Richard didn't appear to want the throne, since he began preparations for Edward V's coronation immediately and it all seemed set to take place. That is, until Robert Stillington, who was Chancellor twice during Edward IV's reign, brought the news that Edward V could not legally be crowned since Edward IV had be betrothed to another woman at the time that he married Elizabeth Woodville. This meant that all of Edward IV's children by Elizabeth were illegitimate since medieval church law held a consummated betrothal to be as legally binding as marriage. Since illegitimate children could not inherit Edward V could not be crowned. Hence the Lords and Commons of Parliament asked Richard if he would accept kingship of England; he did and on July 6th 1483 was crowned king of England. Whether these events are entirely true or not is questionable since Richard could have invented the claim that Edward V and Richard of York were illegitimate himself. Investigations have shown that the claim could have been put together, though it would have required much skill, and that the story was plausible, though not proved. There do seem to be elements of truth in Richard's accusation that make it feasible. For example, Edward IV was known to be a womanizer; therefore it is entirely possible that he was betrothed to another woman before marrying Elizabeth Woodville. Also, the man purported to have delivered the news, Robert Stillington, was Chancellor to Edward IV twice. Edward must have trusted the man for him to have gained that position. Hence Stillington would not unduly lie about the sons of the man who he served willingly, and thus one cannot really suspect Richard of forcing or bribing Stillington to say that Edward V and Richard were illegitimate. ...read more.

Conclusion

Earl of Northumberland when he visited a village near Thirsk; they had not forgotten how the Earl had refused to go to Richard's aid at the battle that claimed his life. Not a Hunchback, he was just Human In the face of these facts it is impossible not to be able see that Richard III was no where near as evil or malicious as has been made out. Josephine Toy's detective Alan Grant looked at Richard's portrait and saw "someone used to great responsibility, and responsible in his authority. Someone too conscientious. A worrier, perhaps a perfectionist." Not all of us will be able to view Richard in this way, but it is clear that the image that we all have all come to recognize from Shakespeare is merely an image of propaganda and does not truthfully represent Richard in character or in physical appearance. Perhaps Richard III was not perfect, but he does not deserve to be reviled as much as he has been. Even someone who does believe in the truth of physiognomy cannot simply jump to the conclusion that Richard was a murdering villain. Indeed, if he had been given the chance, it is quite likely that Richard would have grown upon all his people, making an impact on them just as he did on the people of York having ruled them for twelve years prior to becoming sovereign. In particular I find it extremely unfair that Richard has suffered such libel whilst other monarchs, such as Henry IV, who snatched the throne from his uncle Richard II and then had him murdered, and Henry VIII, who executed not one, but two of his wives in plain evidence, have managed to escape the censure that has been awarded to Richard III. Therefore, before you bear judgment on Richard, just think about all the evidence that has been put forward here and you will quickly realize that perhaps Richard deserves a lot more appreciation than we have been willing to give him. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Richard III section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Richard III essays

  1. How Genuine was the Relationship Between Richard and Buckingham?

    incensed by his subtle mother To taunt and scorn you thus opprobriously?" At the beginning of the play Richard describes both Buckingham and Hastings as "simple gulls". However, by this point Shakespeare has shown us that in Richard's mind there is now a clear distinction between Hastings who is just

  2. How is Richard III Portrayed in the First Three Scenes of the Play?

    This almost completely contrasts with how Richard acts around other people, and it is as if when he is alone is an extensively different person.

  1. Richard III - provide an exploration of how Shakespeare presents appearance and reality within ...

    " That dogs bark at me as I halt by them." (Act 1 scene 1.Line 23) This provides further indication into his inhumane physical appearance and personal qualities. Rather than feel deprived he revels in the attention he receives from the barking dogs.

  2. Richard's Character Sketch - The main character of the play Richard III, Richard, ...

    This can explain how he has been able to achieve so much and gain the position of King. He has a very powerful way with words that allow him to win people over; even those who know of his evil ways are seduced, such as Lady Anne.

  1. Exploration of the techniques used to foreshadow death in Richard ...

    Shakespeare has previously used Richard's opening soliloquy to establish Richard as a character, so the audience is able to see the hidden meaning behind these words; that in fact his imprisonment shall not be long because he is going to die, not because he is going to be released.

  2. Did Buckingham build Thornbury Castle, his home, as a palace or a castle for ...

    There is mixed evidence that it was built for defence or as a palace but it has characteristics of both types. He may have built it for defence against attacks or as a luxurious palace but we cannot be sure.

  1. Richard III.The main theme in Richard III is the conflict between what is good ...

    He has just realized he is the most horrifying person he could be left alone with. He asks himself a rhetorical question: "Is there a murderer here?

  2. What is significant about the way David Hare ends "Skylight"?

    Then the stage directions say 'she goes back to the cooking.' When Kyra says something hurtful to Tom, she also goes back to the cooking. I don't really think she cared much about the food anyway, because she abandons it later to sleep with Tom.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work