Comparing the Behavior of Characters in Richard III

Comparing the Behavior of Characters in Richard III

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RICHARD III

Compare the behavior and reactions of Richard, Anne and Elizabeth in Act One Scene Two and Act Four Scene Four.

In the start of both scenes, both Elizabeth and Anne are enraged and verbally attack Richard. Both women did not intend to marry Richard. hard was a very clever man, until he became king. He became over confident and did not even realise when he was losing a battle with the not-so-soft Elizabeth. He was successful with the weak, tenderhearted Anne in Act one Scene Two. He was very ruthless. He was very determined to get what he wanted, whatever he had to do for it.

In Act Scene Two, Richard is very clever and intelligent with his moves in convincing Anne to marry him. In fact his knowledge and organisation led him to having three stages of development in manipulating Anne. Anne was an easy target though. He thought that Elizabeth was just as easy to convince, so he did not put any extra effort in. But little did he know that that extra effort would have saved his life. He totally put aside his manipulation skills and took it calm and easy in Act Four Scene Four, so he had to get quite desperate at the end of the scene. He was satisfied to know that he won both oral battles against the ladies, at least he thought so. But Elizabeth was not as weak as poor Anne was. She had a couple of tricks up her sleeve. She was aware of Richard’s evil plans. She had a feeling Richard had slaughtered her dear sons, as well as innocent lady Anne. She knew for sure that he had murdered Anne’s husband and father in-law. And she had a feeling that he had done more harm than what meets the eye. She acted as though she gave in and made the path clear for Richard to marry her daughter (Elizabeth, of the same name).


Richard had weakened since he had become king and was no longer ruthless as he had no reason to be ruthless. He had got what he wanted and was pleased with himself. He thought he was invincible, and he was too confident, which cost him his life. If he had been more careful, he would have been aware of the danger that lied before him. But, he did use some similar techniques in both the scenes.

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To Anne, Richard says, “I did not kill your husband”. He is lying and is denying the murder he committed. To Elizabeth, he says, “You speak as though I had slain my cousins”. He denies the murder again. This shows that Richard is willing to deceive both Anne and Elizabeth to get what he wants. “Slain” is a harsh word and Richard uses that instead of the word “killed” or “murdered” to tell Elizabeth that he did not do such a harsh thing. It adds more effect to the sentence and is more of a shock for the audience if he uses such rude words that apply to him right in front of his opponent, who cannot cipher the sentence. The audience are in a dilemma here, as they want to tell a character something they don’t know, which is vital information for the character. The audience knows more than the characters. This locks the audience’s attention and keeps them pleading for more.

In both scenes, Richard uses bribe to win his opponent over. In both Act One Scene Two, Richard offers Anne the status of the queen, saying that if she marries him, she would be the queen of England. Similarly, he tells Elizabeth that if she let him marry her daughter, she would be the grandmother of the prince/princess/princes/princesses of England. Hearing this, Richard hoped that they might be tempted into marrying him. Also, in both cases, Richard did not actually truly love his target, he only wanted to marry them because he wanted to be known as a king with a good wife or so he could have kids easily. He lied about being in love with them. “Your beauty was the cause of this effect”, (Act One Scene Two) is just a lie. He also says in Act Four Scene Four, “Then know that from my soul, I love thy daughter”. That is just as bad an untruthful statement.
I have a feeling that both the women he chose to talk to were the wrong people. Both the ladies’ family members he had murdered, so it would be a harder job to convince them. If he chose someone else who was not aware of his iniquity, it would be easier for him to convince them. But Shakespeare chose to make this happen in his play, because this would make it more of an interesting play, rather than a plain, old, boring, straight forward play. Shakespeare wanted his audience to be engrossed in his play. He wanted his play to have lots bumps and rides so it would not be boring. I personally would be bored if there was no dilemma in a story. Every single story needs a dilemma, e.g. one fine day a girl was playing in the park... until a dragon came and attacked her! But then a boy came and eliminated the dragon and the girl and boy became friends. A dilemma and a happy ending is the key to a story that people would be engaged in, and Shakespeare had that.

Shakespeare made Elizabeth very bitter to opponents, sharp, and intelligent. The queen of the time, whose name also happened to be Elizabeth, was pleased with Shakespeare because he gave “Elizabeth” a good character. Elizabeth was exacting on words that Richard used, such as, “Her life is only safest at her birth”, and Elizabeth replies sarcastically, “And only in that safety died her brothers”. Elizabeth uses a lot of sarcasm, which shows she has a sense of humour. At one point Richard says, “All unavoided is the doom of destiny.” Elizabeth twists his words and says, ”True, when avoided grace makes destiny: My babes where destined to a fairer death, If grace had blessed thee with a fairer life”.

In Act One Scene Two, Richard was in control of the conversation with Anne. He had the dominating voice. But in Act Four Scene Four, Richard is matched with his opponent, or even weaker that his opponent. So the conversation blew out of his hands and out of control. Elizabeth was mostly in control, and she was the one with the dominating voice. Richard had underestimated Elizabeth.

The only difference is overall in the two scenes is that Richard succeeds in his mission the first time, but not the second. And the reasons for that are: prepared
§ He was sharp and agile in Act One Scene Two, but blunts down in Act Four Scene Two, without knowing it.
§ Anne was an easy opponent, as she knew for sure that her husband was dead. What has she got to live for? She was in a very vulnerable mood at the procession, where the body of her beloved was. But she was weak at the heart too.
§ Elizabeth was strong and wanted to get Richard back, for all the damage he has done, but was sad at the same time because her sons went missing (and Richard was supposed to be protecting them). She showed her grief in anger.
§ Also, Anne was not prepared for fight, because Richard approached her. But Elizabeth equipped for the battle and got ready before she approached him.


Richard overall was an odious character who was selfish and greedy. He put so many people in misery and did not even feel the slightest sorry for them. He was a heartless brute. He was a mean bully who wanted to rule the world and be very powerful, whatever he had to do for it. Mainly, I think that the main reason why he succeeded in Act One Scene Two and not in Act Four Scene Four was that Richard grew weaker after he became king, which made him think he was invincible. I also think that it was partly because Anne was feeble and frail and was easy to defeat while Elizabeth had a clear idea of what she needed to do and was sturdy, quick and intelligent and ready for a battle.
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