Love and Marriage an Affliction or an Alliance: Deceit and Betrayal in Shakespeare’s Richard III

Love and Marriage an Affliction or an Alliance: Deceit and Betrayal in Shakespeare’s Richard III

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During the Middle Ages and Renaissance period marriage and love were idealized, divine and celebrated. Weddings were large events that included the entire families of both the groom and the bride. Reality was different; women were viewed as being fickle, inferior to men and a possession of men. Women had very little, if any, choice in who they would marry. Marriages were arranged so that both families would benefit in gaining wealth or power. Even though the ruler of England for over 4 decades was female, women were still not respected. Women were kept at home and not allowed to take place in public events. In Shakespeare’s Richard III, male and female relationships are displayed as deeply cynical and are based on lies, lust and political gain.
First, the relationship between Lady Anne and Richard is not the only, but one example, of a relationship that is based on lies. As Lady Anne mourns over the murder of her father-in-law Henry VI, Richard comes and greets her with “sweet saint” (1.2.49) and “bolsters this greeting with a string of compliments, to which she responds with curses” (Miner, 47). Richard says that the reason he murdered Henry VI and Edward is because of her beauty. “Your beauty was the cause of that effect/ Your beauty, that did haunt me in my sleep/ To undertake the death of all the world (1.2.126-128)”. In saying this, Richard “directs culpability from himself and onto the female figure” (Miner, 47). Richard thought that “her beauty served as incentive for murder” (Miner, 48). But he lied; he killed both to get closer to the throne, and wooed Anne for the same reason.
Second, the relationship between Princess Elizabeth and Richard serves as an example of one that is based on lust. Since Elizabeth “remains t...


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...chard are used as political gain and the new King Richmond is crowned. The basis’s of these relationships are weak and did not, or in some cases, will not last. Richard realizes that Anne is no longer any use to him, and makes a plan to kill her. “Rumour it abroad / The Anne my wife is very grievous sick / I will take order for her keeping close (4.2.51-53)”. Queen Elizabeth saves her daughter from Richard and sends a proposal to Richmond. Richmond may try to form a closer bond with Elizabeth, or abuse his new power as king. Therefore, the examples in the play give us the message that, relationships that are not based on love, personality and happiness will end unsuccessfully. “Ay me, for aught that I could ever read / Could ever hear by tale or history / The course of true love never did run smooth (Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" 1.1.132-134)”.




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