Richard as an Anti-hero:
To what extent does Richard embody this archetype?
In William Shakespeare’s play, Richard III, Richard is portrayed as physically deformed and psychologically affected. It is believed that his inner soul is a reflection of his physical deformities. Richard is considered as the protagonist of this play, however this is highly contradictive. A protagonist is the hero of the story who exhibits characteristics of courage and perseverance, and is admired for their brave deeds as well as their noble qualities. Richard however, contradicts the character portrayal of a hero and demonstrates himself as the exact opposite: an anti-hero. The play opens up with Richard’s, (Duke of Gloucester) soliloquy: “I am determined to prove a villain” (1.1.30). This enables the reader to recognize the antagonistic qualities that are embedded with the protagonist Richard. Shakespeare expresses the protagonist in a slightly different way compared to the normal. Richard exhibits not only villainous characteristics but he also use persuasion to manipulate others, rejects established values and traditions, and is rejected by society.
Although Richard’s physical appearance, does not allow him to impress others, his ability to persuade allows him to have an influence on individuals. A great example that demonstrates Richard’s ability to use his persuasive skills to manipulate people is expressed in Act I Scene II when Richard woos Anne. In this scene, Richard demonstrates perseverance and confidence, which are ideal characteristics of a protagonist, even though Anne calls him names and insults him. Although he is the guilty murderer he uses “language of forgiveness and Christian charity” (Pat Baldwin). Keep in mind that Richard kil...
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... someone who people wouldn’t want to be. Richard draws sympathy as well as disgust from the audience. Though Richard may be the main focus of the play, he does not possess qualities of a protagonist. It is safe to say that Richard is an immoral person who contradicts everything that represents a protagonist.
Gunnin, Steven Thor. An Essay on Shakespeare's Richard III: Portrait of an Anti-Hero. 20 October 2006. 2 April 2011
Pat Baldwin, Tom Baldwin. Cambridge Student Guide- Shakespeare's Richard III. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
R.Kayne. What is an anti-hero? 4 April 2011. 5 April 2011
Cambridge University. King Richard III. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000
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