The Evil of Richard the Third

The Evil of Richard the Third

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The Evil of Richard III          



     Shakespeare Richard III was a traitor, a murderer, a tyrant, and a hypocrite. The leading characteristics of his mind are scorn, sarcasm, and an overwhelming contempt. It appears that the contempt for his victims rather than active hatred or cruelty was the motive for murdering them. Upon meeting him he sounds the keynote to his whole character. " I, that am curtailed of this proportion, cheated of feature by dissembling nature, Deform'd, unfinish'd sent before my time Into this word scarce half made up"( 1.1.20-23)
     The first scene of the play begins with a soliloquy, which emphasizes Richard's physical isolation as he appears alone as he speaks to is audience. The idea of physical isolation is heightened by his references to his deformity such as "rudely stamped ....Cheated of feature by dissembling Nature, deformed unfinished". "( 1.1.21-22). This deformity would be an outward indication to his audience of the disharmony from Nature and viciousness of his spirit. As he hated "the idle pleasure of these days" and speaks of his plots to sent one brother against another, Richard seems socially apart from the figures around him, and perhaps regarded as an outsider or ostracized because of his deformity. His separation his family is emphasized when he says "Dive, thoughts down to my soul"(1.1.41) when he sees his brother approaching. He is unable to share his thought with his own family as he is plotting against them. Thus, we are given hints of his physical, social and spiritual isolation which is developed throughout the play. But despite these hints, he still refers to himself as part of the House of York, shown in the repeated use of "Our"
     The task which Shakespeare undertook was to mold the hateful constitution of Richard's Moral; character. Richard had to contend with the prejudices arising from his bodily deformity which was considered an indication of the depravity and wickedness of his nature. Richard's ambitious nature, his elastic intellect, and his want of faith in goodness conspire to produce his tendency to despise and degrade every surrounding being and object, even as his own person. He is never sincere except when he is about to commit a murder.
     "therefore, since I can not prove a lover, To entertain these fair well spoken days, I am determined to be a villain".As a villain Richard must be heartless, he can not let his emotions interfere with his actions.

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He must also be intelligent and organized, a villain must know exactly what he has to do, when he has to do it and how he is going to do it. A villain must also be manipulative and persuasive so that if he is accused of a crime or if he finds himself between a rock and a hard place he is able to talk his way out or convince people that he did not commit the crimes in question. A villain must also have scapegoats to use if he is discovered or if he is in a dangerous situation. Richard devised a brutal stratagem to ascend the English throne. Brilliantly, he executed his plan. Heartlessly he executed family, friends, and subjects. Richard did indeed display these characteristics and therefore fulfilled his goal to ascend the throne.
     With his elder brother, King Edward IV dying, Richard believes himself to be the most qualified to rule. He sets his plan to ascend to the throne into action. The first step was to lock up the rightful heir, his other brother George, Duke of Clarence, in the tower. He demonstrates his manipulation skills and plants the seeds of distrust in his brother Clarence's head. He tells clarence that is not the King Locking him up in the tower "Tis the lady Grey his wife that tempers him to that extremity"( 1.1.66 ) he says. He then puts on a show, sobbing to Clarence in front of Brakenbury, telling Clarence "I will deliver you or else lie for you"(1.1.116) A statement that turned out to be false. Instead of trying to deliver Clarence from the tower Richard hires two murderers to kill clarence. This plan was executed perfectly.
     Shakespeare harps throughout the play on Richard's prenatal existence and the circumstances of his early years to create the impression that Richard is intrinsically evil.
     Richard is a scourge who has been cursed from conception. One of the most prominent and shocking vices in Richard is his hypocrisy. He is one who can...frame his face to all occasions and accordingly appears, during the course of his career, under the contrasted forms of a subject and a monarch. a politician, and a wit, a soldier and a suitor, a sinner and a saint, and all with such ease.
     Shakespeare pictured the dominating sins in the play as perjury and murder-sins against the moral order. He portrayed and analyzed the passion of ambition that caused Richard to sin and the passion of fear that at the same time punished him for his sins and forced him to wade in still further in blood.
     As a villain, Richard did succeed, he was heartless, intelligent, organized, manipulative and persuasive. He also had the perfect scapegoat; the Duke of Buckingham who was hard working, honest and loyal to the end. Richard did indeed display the properties of a perfect villain and therefore fulfilled his goal to ascend the throne. Without these resources Richard would not have a chance at the throne. But as King Richard did succeed , he became overconfident, and sloppy. Richard thought that he did not need to protect himself from enemies since they were all dead. He became overconfident when the war came upon him in the end he failed. Richard was an excellent villain but a terrible King.
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