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"What qualities of character did Richard III have that enabled him to ascend the throne?" Name and show these characteristics in action in the play Richard III.
Also: "Richard III is a consummate villain". Show that his summation of Richard's character is true.
To achieve goals, in one's life, one must be determined and must have certain characteristics that reciprocate to one's goals. In the play Richard III, Richard III's goal is to ascend the throne. There are two ways that one can claim the throne, by birthright, or by might. Since Richard III cannot claim the throne by right he must therefore take it by might. To accomplish this goal Richard Duke of Gloucester must be determined to achieve his goal at all costs and he must have the characteristics to meet his determination.
In the first scene of the play, Richard announces in a narration, his plan to become king. Richard plainly states that he is "Deformed, Unfinished, and sent before his time" and "since he cannot prove to be a lover; he is determined to prove a villain." As a villain Richard must be heartless, he cannot let his emotions interfere with his actions. 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, as you will see in the paragraphs below.
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.
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His next step in his plan to claim the throne was to claim a bride. He had one woman in mind; a widow named Anne Neville. Anne Neville was formerly married to Edward, Prince of Wales, Henry VI's son, both of whom Richard murdered. He stated that "The readiest way to make Anne amends is to become her husband and her father". He once more demonstrates his wonderful manipulative, and persuasive abilities to woo Anne to marry him. In this he succeeded he married Anne even though he killed her husband and her father.
When King Edward dies, Richard, Duke of Gloucester decides that he needs a scapegoat, so that if he should fail to execute the next steps in his plan, he will have someone to break his fall. He employs the Duke of Buckingham, a powerful political ally. The next step in Richard's plan is to eliminate the family of the late king's wife, Queen Elizabeth, who naturally would prefer to see her sons, Prince Edward and Richard Duke of York, to ascend the throne. To discredit the two little princes, Richard circulates rumors that the sons of Queen Elizabeth are bastards therefore they cannot claim the throne. Richard III decides that the only way to make sure that the little princes cannot claim the throne is to eliminate them permanently. Richard decides that the most secure way to kill the princes is to become their most trusted friend. Richard therefore becomes "Lord Protector" of the little princes. Anxious to "protect" his own interests, Richard imprisons them in the tower.
The next step in his brilliant scheme is to increase public support for his own claim to the crown. Richard, aided by Buckingham, enacts shows of devotion, kindness, religiousness and other virtues, which recommend him to the citizenry and especially to the Lord Mayor and aldermen of London. This done he finally wins the mayor and the alderman over and receives the offer to "the supreme seat, the throne majestical, the sceptered office of his ancestors themselves, the lineal glory of his royal house". After some false persuasion by the Duke of Buckingham, Richard finally accepts the "golden yoke of sovereignty." To secure his position further, he hires James Tyrell to "terminate" the two princes in the tower. His wife Anne dies so he then arranges to marry Princess Elizabeth, daughter of the former king, Edward IV. Since Richard has no more need for Buckingham, since the crown is secured. So he therefore "terminates" Buckingham as well.
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 a 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 did not know that Stanley whom he did trust was defecting to Richmond. He became overconfident when the war came upon him and in the end he failed. Richard was an excellent villain but a terrible king.