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Richard III by William Shakespeare

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In Christian philosophy, love is a revered virtue built upon understanding, trust, respect, and compassion. The act of marriage is its ultimate expression: a promise of abundant happiness and fertility. Many poets and authors in classical literature share this idea, depicting righteous resolutions and jubilant atmospheres through successful unions in their works. One such playwright is William Shakespeare, who in the tragedy Richard III uses marriage to end a tyrant’s bloody rule and restore peace to England. Interestingly, in the same play, Hastings “forfeits all title to compassion”, and “the widowed Queen Margaret appears as the fury of the past” (Schlegel, 2). Furthermore, numerous relationships amongst the nobility are loveless, dysfunctional, and ill-fated. Love is cynically portrayed to the extent that all male/female relations inevitably lead to death, desolation, ruin, and decay.

The first victim of love is Lady Anne. Her wooing and marriage are “perversions of the ritual of traditional courtship rights” (Carroll, 3). In a vulnerable state subject to “loss of title, position, and identity” (Miner, 6), her denial of Richard’s feelings is so significant that he threatens himself with death: “This hand, which for thy love did kill thy love, / shall for thy love kill a far truer love” (1.2.194-195). Yet, after she accepts his proposal, he indicates to the audience that he does not love her. He even congratulates himself on being able to manipulate her emotions, because gaining her confidence is merely a part of his larger scheme to become king. It is too late when she realizes his true intentions, and laments to Queen Elizabeth and the Duchess of her unhappy marriage:

For never yet one hour in his bed

Did I enjoy the go...

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...Bloom, Broomall, PA: Chelsea House, 2000. 32-34.

Pearlman, E. “The Invention of Richard Gloucester.” Shakespeare’s Histories (Bloom’s

Major Dramatists). Ed. Harold Bloom, Broomall, PA: Chelsea House, 2000. 28-30.

Plasse, Marie A. “Corporeality and the Opening of Richard III.” Shakespeare’s Histories

(Bloom’s Major Dramatists). Ed. Harold Bloom, Broomall, PA: Chelsea House, 2000. 30-32.

Schlegel, August Wilhelm. “Lectures of Dramatic Art and Literature.” Shakespeare’s

Histories (Bloom’s Major Dramatists). Ed. Harold Bloom, Broomall, PA: Chelsea House, 2000. 19-21.

Shakespeare, William. King Richard III. Eds. Pat Baldwin and Tom Baldwin.

Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2005.

Young, Bruce W. “Ritual as Grace: Parental Blessings in Richard III.” Shakespeare’s

Histories (Bloom’s Major Dramatists). Ed. Harold Bloom, Broomall, PA: Chelsea House, 2000. 21-23.
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