In the play ‘Richard IIII’, Shakespeare shows instances of outward appearances masking inward reality throughout the play. Shakespeare has effectively intertwined the two elements appearance and reality to give the audience a different view and more information than the characters are aware of in the play. The audience can anticipate events that may follow creating dramatic tension. This theme is represented by Richard, however Richards’s right hand man ‘Buckingham’ also plays a major part in it, ‘’My other self, my counsel’s consistory, my oracle, my prophet!’’
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The difference between appearance and reality first shows up when Richard admits to not only himself, but to the audience, that he is a villain, “As I am subtle, false and treacherous”. By admitting to himself that he, Richard, is a villain, he reveals reality, as he has no motive to lie or deceive himself. In this soliloquy, Richard’s motive is not to deceive any other character, but rather to take a step back from his deceptions and to give the audience a glimmer of reality instead of the cloak he feeds to the other characters. This is one of the few times that Richard exposes himself as what he truly is, a villain, of deception and fraud, ‘’I am determined to prove a villain…’’
Moreover this theme is also revealed in act three through Buckingham, ‘’we know each other’s faces. For our hearts, He knows no more of mine than I of yours…’’. This line gives dramatic force to the theme, the ability to judge a person correctly by external signs. Buckingham says he knows Richard’s outward appearance or faces but not his inward thoughts or heart. In sharp contrast, Hastings claims a close relationship with Richard and assumes that Richard will willingly accept his view as his own. Through Shakespeare’s dramatic irony which creates tension and keeps the audience drawn in suspense, Hastings continues to assume mistakenly that ‘faces’ equal ‘hearts’. He claims that Richard is unable to conceal his feelings and intensions ‘’I think there’s never a man in Christendom can lesser hide his love or hate, than he’’.
In ‘Richard III’, Shakespeare uses the difference between appearance and reality to show that one may be so clever like Richard yet it is so difficult to maintain his front. At the end, the truth will finally come out and the consequences are shown to be tragic. Shakespeare has made Richard into such a realistic character for other characters in the play. For them, when reality is revealed it is too late.