Shakespeare’s Frankenstein or History’s Victim free essay sample
Richard’s first line in the play is, “I am determined to prove a villain” (Act 1, scene 1) shows Shakespeare’s intent to put Richard III in a negative light. “If asked of an average person to describe King Richard III, most would probably come up with a picture straight out of Shakespeare” (RichardIII. com) . Paul Murray Kendall wrote, ‘While the Tudor chroniclers made up the minds of subsequent historians about Richard III, Shakespeare has made up the imagination of everybody else” (Richard III. com). Richard III is portrayed as a “deformed hunchback” who ruthlessly lies, murders, and manipulates his way to throne.
So the question is was Richard III a monster or was this a ploy by Shakespeare to kiss up to the higher elites such as Queen Elizabeth I, who was a Tudor and the granddaughter of Richard’s replacement, King Henry VII. The Real Richard III Richard was born on 2 October 1452 at Fotheringay Castle in Northamptonshire (Wikipedia).
His father was Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York and his mother Cecily Neville. Richard had a claim to the English throne through both parents (Kendall p. g. 15). In the play Shakespeare never mentioned this part of Richard’s III life.
According to BBC. com, Richards’s father conflict with Henry VI was a major cause of the Wars of the Roses, which dominated Richard’s early life. His father and older brother died at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460. In 1461, Richard’s brother, Edward, became Edward IV and granted him duke of Gloucester (bbc. com). In 1470, Edward and Richard were exiled when Henry VI was briefly restored to the throne. The following year, they returned to England and Richard contributed to the Yorkist victories at Barnet and Tewkesbury which restored Edward to the throne (bbc. com).
Richard was named as protector of the realm for Edward’s son and successor, the 12-year-old Edward V (bbc. com). As the new king travelled to London from Ludlow, Richard met him and escorted him to London, where he was lodged in the Tower. One can only wonder how Shakespeare came by this monstrous characterization. Living in the reign of Elizabeth I, he probably had no choice but to describe him that way. The Tudors, who destroyed the House of York at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, did not want the last Yorkist king to have a sympathetic image, hence the desire to bend the truth. (Wood p. g. 245).
Shakespeare probably took what he was given and asked no questions. Richard was not extremely handsome by any standards, but he was definitely not deformed – he was an able warrior (which Shakespeare does give him credit for in the play). His reign as king was short, only because he lacked leadership not because he was caught in a tangled web of evil plots that Shakespeare assigns to him. Shakespeare’s Richard III Now here is Shakespeare’s version of Richard III that everyone seems to associate with more. In the play version of Richard III, he is deemed a sociopath that lacks empathy based upon emotions with his victims.
Although he has linguistic abilities, he lacks complete understanding, and capacity to appreciate moral rules responding to his choice of actions. This kind of person is not deemed a criminal, as his offenses are usually significant and are rather considered to be morally and socially wrong. This made up version of Richard III is one who can get away with illegal or socially objectionable behavior in his own interest. This sums up Shakespeare’s Richard III character in the play and his constant manipulation of those around him.
Shakespeare really goes out of his way to breathe graphic and poisonous life into this villainous almost satanic creation. At the start of the play Shakespeare has Richard explain his deformity to the audience, he believes that his deformity was a curse by God and there for makes him inherently evil. Richard is the dominant character of the play; he is both the main character of the story and its main villain. Richard III is an intense exploration of the psychology of evil, and that exploration is centered on Richard’s mind (sparknotes. com).
But despite his open allegiance to evil, he is such a charismatic and fascinating figure that, for much of the play, we are likely to sympathize with him, or at least to be impressed with him (spark notes). In this way, our relationship with Richard mimics the other characters ‘relationships with him, conveying a powerful sense of the force of his personality (Spark notes). In the beginning of the play Richard shows no shame in revealing his true intentions to the audience: “Since I cannot prove a lover, to entertain these fair well-spoken days, I am determined to prove a villain and hate the idle pleasures of these days” (Act 1.
Scene 1). Richard has a serious “Lack of Remorse” for those around him; for instance In Act I, Scene II, Richard convinces Lady Anne to be his Duchess at her dead husbands funeral. He turns up at the funeral to tell her that he murdered the one she loved out of passion. Naturally Anne curses Richard for his vile deed upon first seeing him along the funeral route. But because of Richards amazing linguistic skills she ends up submissive as he defends himself from all her accusations under the circumstances of a crime only committed for the sake of love.
Anne is blown away by Richard’s willingness and accepts his offer, maybe out of fear. After Anne leaves Richard brags of his success, “Was ever a woman in this humor woo’d? Was ever a woman in this human won”(Act I, scene II). He goes on with his wrong doings as he zeros in on his next victim. Hastings who was helping Richard gain control of the throne becomes that next victim. Lord Hastings enjoyed sitting back and watching the death of enemies, but at the same time not knowingly misjudging his own position in Richards plans.
He failed to heed the warning from his friend from Stanley “Three times today my foot-cloth horse did stumble, and started when he looked upon the tower, as loath to bear me to the slaughterhouse”(Act I, Scene III). Not too long afterwards Hastings found himself getting sent off to the tower by Richard to be put to death. Even though these two agreed to help each other get what they want, Richard’s lack of remorse didn’t stop him from betraying Hastings. By modern day standards, sociopaths such as Richard do not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities.
Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way (factnet. org). The play Richard III is often and mistakenly considered historical context by those who have only come in contact with Shakespeare’s rendition. What we must all understand is that this play was Elizabethan propaganda. This is why Richard III, the only alternative to Tudor rule is shown to have broken practically every social and moral law that society holds in high regards.