Joanna Lowe Page 4/30/2007
Richard III by William Shakespeare
“How genuine was the relationship between Richard and Buckingham?”
This essay is to assess how authentic the friendship between the cunning Richard and the apt and able Buckingham, discussing whether they were ever truly friends or whether they were just using each other to get what they wanted. Throughout their so-called “friendship”, Richard and Buckingham stood by each other through thick and thin on the course of Richard’s rise to the throne. Unfortunately, once Richard realised that he had got as much as he could out of Buckingham, he disposed of him, although they worked closely together and Buckingham did everything possible to help Richard’s ascent to be King of England, he reached a certain point of remorse when he was asked to murder the two young princes, one of which was heir to the throne.
Before we note of Richards and Buckingham’s friendship kindling only a few scenes in from the beginning of the play, the audience already know of Richard’s sinister plans due to his opening soliloquy, advanced dominantly where he admits his motives to becoming King of England. The first scene where it is apparent that Richard and Buckingham seem to be on the same wave-length and assisting each other is that of Act I Scene III. We, as the audience, have previously learnt of Richard’s powerful determination to get what he wants as he has already planned the striking off of the next in line for the throne, his brother Clarence, and has wooed the heart of Anne, although he murdered her husband and father-in-law during the War of the Roses. These accomplishments are proof enough to show that nothing will stand in Richards’s way to get what he wants and it seems as though Buckingham doesn’t know what he is in for.
Act I Scene III opens with Lord Rivers and Lord Grey attempting to comfort Queen Elizabeth, whilst she is concerned about the fate of her family should her husband’s health continue to deteriorate. Richard, her husband’s brother, is to be established as Protector to her sons, knowing that he is her enemy. Buckingham and Stanley have been visiting Edward, who is in good spirits considering his poor health – Edward intends to “make atonement Between the Duke of Gloucester and your brothers, And between them and my Lord Chamberlain; And sent to warn them of his royal presence” (1.3.line 36-39). Elizabeth’s heart continues to remain heavy, as she cannot bring herself to believe that this reconciliation is really possible. Richard bursts in, protesting that he had been corrupted by the “lewd complaints” (1.3.line 61) of Queen Elizabeth. He seems bitter about the progression of her relatives and accuses her of having Clarence and Hastings imprisoned, continuing to insult her.
Whilst Elizabeth and Richard are quarrelling, Queen Margaret enters, and she begins to remind us of Richard’s previous crimes, obstructing the altercation between Richard and Elizabeth. Margaret dominates the scene as soon as she enters, impossible to ignore even before she is acknowledged when she steps forward to denounce the assembled company for deposing her husband. Those present respond with accusations of their own, blaming Margaret for the death of Richard’s brother Rutland. It is not until this point that we hear from Buckingham for the first time, backing up Richard. Margaret doesn’t seem deterred from her purpose and continues to curse everyone in turn and prophesies their ruin, except Buckingham, simply for the reason that he had no involvement in the death of her husband, and warns the company against Richard. When she leaves, it is ironic that Buckingham is the first to speak, and even more so that he mocks her by claiming “My hair doth stand on end to hear her curses” (1.3.line 303), undermining Margaret’s threats and presence. Whilst everyone else assembled seems shaken by Margaret’s prophecies, Richard remains seemingly calm by way of contrast and then he hypocritically feigns an apology to Margaret for all of the suffering that he may have caused her. Buckingham’s character, as yet, is difficult to read as his cool diplomacy hints that he is political and should be watched closely. Buckingham’s act of aiding Richard when he was under attack by depraved comments from the enraged Old Queen Margaret doesn’t seem to have impressed Richard. In his ending soliloquy of Act I Scene III, Richard calls Derby, Hastings and Buckingham “simple gulls” (1.3.line 327) believing that they are foolish and gullible.
This is a preview of the whole essay
The opening of the next Act begins with the dying King attempting to appease his feuding family and friends. He believes that he has reconciled the conflicting factions at court, Hastings, Rivers, Dorset and Buckingham seemingly affirm their loyalty to one another, pretending to do so only for the fact that the king is on his deathbed. Buckingham makes amends with Elizabeth, showing sincerity, putting animosity from the past behind them and says “Whenever Buckingham doth turn his hate Upon your Grace, but with all duteous love Doth cherish you and yours, God punish me With hate in those where I expect most love!” (2.1.line 32-35). This speech made by Buckingham is very ironic since it is exactly what happens to him. When Richard enters, Edward promptly announces the success of the “deeds of charity”(2.1.line 50) that have been performed within his family and closest of kin. Gloucester appears to fall in with the contented atmosphere, saying that it is “death to me to be at enmity”(2.1.line 61) with anyone. However, when Elizabeth asks Edward to pacify with Clarence after sending him to the tower, Richard’s tone changes and he pretends to be insulted. The company is shocked when Richard demands, “Who knows not that the gentle Duke is dead?”(2.1.line 80). This dramatic revelation has a profound effect on Edward. When Stanley enters to ask Edward’s pardon for one of his servants who has killed a gentleman in a brawl, Edward reproaches asking why no-one begged him to spare Clarence. The king is full of grief, remembering his brother’s services to him during the War of the Roses, and as he is helped to leave the room, Richard takes this opportunity to blame Queen Elizabeth’s kindred for Clarence’s death.
In Act II, Scene II, the Duchess of York and Princess Elizabeth mourn the death of King Edward and there is a discussion over how and when Edward, Prince of Wales, is to be brought to London to be crowned king. Clarence’s children try to discover the truth about their father’s death, ironically believing that Edward is to blame after being told by their “great uncle Gloucester” (2.2.line 20) that he was “provok’d”(2.2.line 21) by Queen Elizabeth. The Duchess of York expresses her shame as Richard’s mother and over his appalling behaviour towards his family. She is interrupted by the arrival of Queen Elizabeth, who is deep in distress due to the fact that Edward has just died, the women and children also join in with the lamentation and Rivers advises Elizabeth that she send for Prince Edward hastily so that he can be crowned swiftly. When Richard enters, he pretends to be in mourning for his brother and feigns sympathy for his sister-in-law. Meanwhile, Buckingham begins to take an active role in the affairs of state and arrangements for the young Prince, proposing that “some little train” (2.2.line 120) should be sent to accompany Prince Edward from Ludlow to London. The plan is arranged that only Buckingham and Richard are to meet the Prince alone when he arrives in London, Buckingham arguing this point judiciously by claiming that the Prince should be met by a small troop of attendants, so not to alarm too many people. Rivers becomes evidently suspicious and questions the motive, but simultaneously Buckingham fights back, and almost pressurises Rivers into agreeing with him, ending with it being agreed that he and Richard should be amongst those to go to Ludlow. This is extremely shrewd on Buckingham’s behalf as he has done all the work, making it apparent to the audience that he and Richard have discussed this matter before entering the room and Buckingham has done all of the talking, setting it up so that it looks like Richard had nothing to do with it, so not to raise suspicion. When Buckingham is alone with Richard at the end of the scene, it becomes evident that Buckingham is in Richard’s confidence, and that the two are plotting to “part the Queen’s proud kindred from the Prince” (2.2.line 150). Richard flatters his accomplice and says that his counsel will guide him. By the end of the scene we already have proof that Buckingham and Richard are a combined force – the urgency of Buckingham’s last speech contrasts with the solemn, symmetrical and more leisurely phrasing used by the women and children earlier establishing that the pair are ready to strike. However, we realise that Buckingham is a fool to align himself with the villain that is Richard, when we hear Gloucester’s false and flattering last lines “My other self, my counsel’s consistory, My oracle, my prophet, my dear cousin, I, as a child, will go by thy direction. Toward Ludlow then. For we’ll not stay behind.” (2.2.line 150-153). It appears as though Buckingham being duped as Anne was. It seems ironic that this scene opens and closes with children – the innocence of Clarence’s grieving children, obliterated by Richard’s cunning reference to himself as “a child” who will be directed by his “dear cousin” Buckingham (2.2.line152-3). Act III Scene I opens with Prince Edward arriving only to be greeted by his uncle Richard and Buckingham, obviously discontented, and wanting the company of his mother and brother. Richard tells the young Prince that he will be staying in the Tower of London and the young Prince, understandably seems uneasy about sheltering there. Prince Edward’s younger brother arrives, jests with Richard but also seems disconcerted when he learns he will be staying in the Tower with his brother. When compared with his brother, Edward initially seems a gloomy and petulant boy. However, we recognise that he should be able to sustain the right to be subdued as his mother didn’t seem to make the effort to come to greet him and quite rightly so, in his opinion, the Tower of London isn’t a beneficial place to start his reign. The boys are led off and Richard and Buckingham discuss their plans with another ally of Richard, Catesby, about Hastings, asking C0atesby to sound him out and discover whether he would support Richard’s attempt to rise to the throne, however, it is Buckingham that sets down the laws and tells Catesby how to approach Hastings, what information to divulge and what to retrieve, not Richard. This becomes one of Buckingham’s traits, as he seems to think he is the one more in control of Richard’s rise to the throne. At the end of the scene, Richard and Buckingham discuss the fate of Hastings should he decide not to assist Richard, Buckingham ponders how they would deal with Hastings should he resist. “Chop off his head, man” (3.1.line 193) comes the brisk, callous reply from Richard, misplacing Buckingham’s self-confidence proving that Richard’s startling words confirm his brutal control of events. This is how Richard tends to deal with all of his enemies: Buckingham beware. Although this may be the case, it seems as though Richard recognises all of the good deeds that Buckingham has done to aid his plans, and so promises Buckingham the Earldom of Hereford.
“Richard: And, look, when I am King, claim thou of me The earldom of Hereford and all the movables Whereof the King, my brother was possess’d.
Buckingham: I’ll claim that promise at your Grace’s hand.
Richard: And look to have it yielded with all kindness Come, let us sup bedtimes, that afterwards We may digest our complots in some form. ” (3.1.lines194-201)
This gesture by Richard seems truly genuine unlike before when he obviously seemed fake, fooling Buckingham, but this time, he seems authentic proving that Richard will reward those who do him right. The next scene, Act III Scene IV, opens abruptly with a council meeting and Hastings asking the question of when the new Prince shall be crowned king. Richard arrives late, acting peculiarly relaxed and unusually amicable, and asks the Bishop of Ely to send him some of his strawberries from his garden. It becomes clear that these are diversionary tactics, arranged beforehand with the help of Buckingham for when he sets up Hastings, making it look like he was in a contented mood, but Hastings supposed acts of treason made him so angry that he requests his execution. Richard takes Buckingham to the side to discuss the fate of Hastings as Buckingham lets him know that Hastings hasn’t agreed to support them and contrive to set him up, whilst the rest of the congregation continue to deliberate over the coronation. When Richard returns to the meeting, it is obvious that his mood has changed with a blatant alteration in his tone of voice, accusing Elizabeth and Mistress Shore, Hastings’ lover, of conspiring against him. Hastings unfortunately makes the mistake of questioning Richards statement, proving worthy of and accusation of treason by Richard. Hastings is swiftly removed and dealt with. The fact that this act of removing an obstacle in Richards elevation to becoming King of England shows the power of Richard’s and Buckingham’s alliance, proving that nothing will stand in Richards way to getting what he wants. Act III Scene V begins with a conversation between Richard and Buckingham where they discuss their tactics for dealing with the Mayor. They counterfeit fear, pretending to be troubled by enemies. The Mayor is taken in by their story that Hastings plotted against their lives, agreeing to explain to the citizens of London why Hastings was put to death without trial. Richard sends Buckingham after him. He is to address the crown too, concluding “the bastardy of Edwards children” (3.5.line74) and criticising the Duchess of York’s virtue, claiming that Richards own brother Edward was most likely a bastard. The aim of this exploit is to make the citizens of London believe that Richard is the only rightful heir to the throne. Meanwhile, Richard goes to Baynard’s Castle where he gathers religious men around him in order to establish the appearance of piety. A great deal is set up and outlined in this short scene – Richard’s virtuosity as an actor is demonstrated a number of times, playing many roles with relish and Buckingham and Richard make an entertaining double act as they fool the Mayor with false protestations. Richard and Buckingham discuss how it is going with Richards popularity within the city of London, with Richard asking Buckingham how the people have perceived the idea of him becoming the new King, asking if they have been wooed and are believing the rumours about Edward and his children. Buckingham replies by telling Richard that he made the rumours believable and after he appeared to the citizens, speaking well of Richard, he set up a few false citizens to cry out “God save Richard, England’s Royal King” after Buckingham had finished his speech, to make it look like Richard had followers, inclining others to do the same. An apt tactic that Buckingham used when he convinced the Mayor to want Richard as the King was to tell Richard to “not be easily won by our requests. Play the maid’s part: still answer nay and take it.”(3.7.line 48 - 50), basically telling Richard to pretend that he doesn’t want to be the King of England, to act like a woman – to say no when she really means yes, and make the Mayor almost plead with him to reign England, so when Richard finally submits to their aspiration, the Mayor will feel grateful. When they are alone together, we see how much Richard relies on Buckingham who tells him what to say and how to say it, although Buckingham foolishly remains complacent about his own powers, but Richards decisive speech at the end of the scene confirms his control of events, yet again. Act IV commences with the three women, Elizabeth, the Duchess of York and Anne, who is now Richard’s wife, on their way to visit the Princes in the Tower with Dorset accompanying them. When they arrive at the gates of the Tower, Brakenbury, Lord Lieutenant of the Tower, refuses them entry as King Richard has decreed that the boys must be kept in isolation and Brakenbury turns a deaf ear to the pleas of the women. Stanley comes to tell Anne that she must prepare for the coronation, Elizabeth swoons and tells her son Dorset that he must flee to Richmond in France is he is to save his life. Stanley agrees to this wise counsel and it becomes clear that he and his son are opposed to Richard. All the women lament Richard’s accession, they become united in grief. The women are characteristically sorrowful in this scene, and now, however, they take time to pity one another instead of competing in their grief. Anne says that her husband suffers from “timorous dreams” (4.1.line 84), and she fears that he will shortly be rid of her. Anne plays a particularly pathetic figure as she recounts her sorry tale of her wooing and marriage, being sucked in by Richards “honey words” (4.1. line79), predicting her own death and seeming welcome to it. As Anne makes to leave, Elizabeth looks back at the tower, deeply concerned at the fate of her sons. This scene doesn’t really show any progression in the companionship between Richard and Buckingham, but it shows its effects and control. In this short scene, we learn that Richard’s succession to the throne is complete, displaying his ability and competence in managing to persuade people into his way of thinking as he has taken Anne as his wife, and with great help from Buckingham, he managed to persuade the Mayor and citizens of London to want him as their King. Richard’s tactic of isolating the young Princes shows the lengths that he will go to succeed, as by concealing the Princes, he is in control of the life of the heir to the throne. Act II Scene II opens with Richard’s ascent to the throne. Not seeming contented is his victory of claiming the throne, Richard’s thought turn instantly to murder. When Buckingham fails to understand his hints, he is forced to tell him plainly that he wants the Princes in the Tower to be murdered. Buckingham stumbles, and asks for time to consider the proposition, angering his sovereign. Richard decides to fine another murderer he can bribe and so outcasts Buckingham from his scheme. His page suggests that a “discontented gentleman” (4.2.line 36), Tyrrel is his man. Stanley brings news that Dorset has fled to Richmond. Richard tells Catesby to put about rumours that Anne is sick and is likely to die soon; he intends to marry Elizabeth’s eldest daughter in order to strengthen his position. Tyrrel arrives and agrees to murder the Princes. When Buckingham later re-appears, he swiftly realises that his days are numbered, attempting to remind Richard that he was promised the Earldom of Hereford, but it is told that the King is “not in the giving vein” (4.2.line116). Richard becomes pre-occupied by a prophecy that he “should not live long after I saw “Richmond” “ (4.2.line 105). At the end of the scene, the fearful Buckingham decides to flee to Brecknock in Wales. This is a highly dramatic and swift-moving scene and it becomes clear that Richard is already past his pinnacle. He is forced to respond unwelcome news and setbacks, For the first time, he voices his doubts, but remains cold and brutal. As the scene progresses we realise that the sovereign is not secure – his henchmen hesitates, Dorset has fled to Richmond, and Richard recognises that he must marry again to maintain his authority and right to the throne. Finally, and most significantly, he seems to be taking notice of prophecies – Richard has none of his mocking humour in this scene, remaining sinister and isolated. Overall, the doubtful “friendship” between Richard and Buckingham seemed to work, until they both realised that they had got as much as they could of each other. From the relationship Richard managed to secure the throne as his own with the aid of Buckingham and Buckingham gained a higher power of events, control and got a taste of what the real Richard was like. Although the main strength of the relationship was greed, on both of their behalf’s, it seems as though Richard genuinely enjoyed the company of Buckingham as he was able to voice his motives and gain an opinion on claiming the throne. There is proof of this as at the beginning of the play, Shakespeare had to use soliloquies to be able to reveal Richard’s foreboding plots of determination and resoluteness to become the King of England, as Richard had no one to disclose his plans with. Since Richard has formed a “friendship” with Buckingham, Shakespeare didn’t have to use soliloquies as the audience can now learn of Richards’s intentions through his conniving conversations with Buckingham, his confidant. Richard finally realised that Buckingham had reached a point of anguish when he faltered when asked to dispose of the Princes. This was the point of the end of the relationship and Buckingham seemed to have reached his “sell-by date”, doing all that was within his power to aid Richard’s rise to the throne, but it quickly became apparent that Buckingham was not willing to murder the Princes and so became non-beneficial to Richard’s continuing problems.