“Thou Camst on Earth to Make the Earth My Hell”: Richard as a Satanic Hero in Richard III by William Shakespeare

“Thou Camst on Earth to Make the Earth My Hell”: Richard as a Satanic Hero in Richard III by William Shakespeare

Length: 1148 words (3.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

In mythology, the term “Satan” is defined as the ruler of the underworld. In literature however, that title is associated with the “opposer”, or the arch-rebel. This name originates from the corrupt hero Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost. Interestingly, Satan is not completely depicted as demonic and repugnant. On the contrary, he is able to deliver exhilarating speeches, evoke pity of the public, and even demonstrate some virtues normally affiliated with a tragic hero. However, Milton is not the only one to use such a figure in his writing. Shakespeare also utilizes the “satanic hero model” in many of his tragedies. A famous example can be seen in Richard III, where he characterizes Richard as a “devilish embodiment of evil” and a “satanic usurper” (Pearlman, 1), who nevertheless possesses heroic traits. Richard is a clever and inspiring orator as he is a brave and bold warrior. Despite having these conventional heroic traits, Richard is portrayed as a true satanic hero through his corruption of what society views as sacred: love, religion, loyalty, and ultimately himself.
Similar to Satan, Richard yearns to exploit what he is restrained from, such as romantic love and marriage. He is deprived of these privileges due to his deformed appearance, and for that reason, he seeks to demoralize and taint it. William C. Carroll the same observation in his essay: “The natural form and order of marriage and birth, then represent for Richard what he is denied, what he desires, and what he must violate (2).” Richard’s assault on love is a ferocious and revengeful one. This is evident before his wooing of Anne, when he declares, “What though I kill’d her husband and her father? / The readiest way to make the wench amends / Is to become her h...


... middle of paper ...


...es an immoral mind.



Works Cited

Carroll, William C. “‘The Form of Law’: Ritual and Succession in Richard III.”
Shakespeare’s Histories (Bloom’s Major Dramatists). Ed. Harold Bloom, Broomall, PA: Chelsea House, 2000. 24-28.
Pearlman, E. “The Invention of Richard Gloucester.” Shakespeare’s Histories (Bloom’s
Major Dramatists). Ed. Harold Bloom, Broomall, PA: Chelsea House, 2000. 28-30.
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.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »