In Richard III and Macbeth Shakespeare used the title characters to reveal the typical characteristics of the tyrant such as limited foresight, mental instability, paranoia, the alienation of allies, and a clearly defined persona of evilness.
Both Richard III and Macbeth are noblemen that usurp the crown through treachery, deceitfulness, and murder. Their rule is short-lived, though, because the reign with fear and terror. This clearly sets them up as tyrants, however, Shakespeare elaborated on this subject and revealed the typical characteristics of the tyrant through their actions, their climb to power, and the way they reigned.
In the first act of Richard III the audience sees that Richard has developed an elaborate plan to become king (1.1.28-35). His plan is well thought out and looks to the future, not just the present. At the end of act 1 scene 1 Richard describes his plan and begins to get ahead of himself. Then he remembers the plan as a whole and realizes he must execute it in order to succeed. "But yet I run before my horse to market. / Clarence still breathes, Edward still lives and reigns; / When they are gone, then must I count my gains" (1.1.160-163). Through this opening act we see that Richard poses considerable foresight and even acts upon it. By the end of the play, however, this foresight has disappeared. Richard totally ignores Buckingham and refuses to compensate Buckingham for his help in usurping the throne (4.2.119-122). Richard fails to foresee that this action will cause Buckingham to turn against him. This lack or decrease of foresight is one of the principal characteristics of the tyrant.
We see in Macbeth that foresight was a quality that Mac...
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...mental instability, paranoia, the alienation of allies, and a clearly defined persona of evil in the title characters of two of his most famous plays, Richard III and Macbeth.
Works Cited and Consulted
Eccles, Mark. "Richard III on Stage and Screen." Richard III. New York: Signet Classic, 1988. 265-78.
Hallett, Charles A. and Elaine S. Hallett. The Revenger's Madness. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1980. (Epigraph)
Ornstein, Richard. "Richard III." Richard III. New York: Signet Classic, 1988. 239-264.
Shakespeare, William. Richard III. The Norton Shakespeare. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1997
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. The Norton Shakespeare. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1997
Spivack, Charlotte. The Comedy of Evil on Shakespeare's Stage. London: Associated UPs, 1978.
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