Richard III by William Shakespeare - “How genuine was the relationship between Richard and Buckingham?”

Authors Avatar

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.

Join now!

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 ...

This is a preview of the whole essay