William Shakespeare 's King Richard IIi Essay

William Shakespeare 's King Richard IIi Essay

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This excerpt of King Richard III by William Shakespeare is from Act 5, Scene 3, and lines 316 to 343. It is right before the Battle of Bosworth, between Richard and Richmond. The two opposing sides have been drawing closer to each other, while the tension builds. The huge contrast in character between the leaders of the two armies is extremely evident. Having just been visited and cursed by ghosts, Richard is feeling extremely unconfident and unsure of himself. As the drum of his enemy sounds in the distance, Richard attempts to give his soldiers a final speech. He is trying to motivate his men, although the majority does not support him. He has to use a variety of tactics to make his soldiers more passionate. The literary features such as rhetorical devices and figures of speech in this passage show the negative style of Richard’s leadership and character.
At the beginning of the speech, the king starts off with a rhetorical question. He asks if there is anything else to say, other than “what I have inferred?” This tells his soldiers that his actions speak louder than words, and he has done all he can thus far to fight against the enemy. Already, he has shown how arrogant he is, and expects his men to blindly agree with him. Richard then refers to Richmond’s army. He starts off by insulting them, dubbing them as “vagabonds, rascals, and runaways”. His vulgar word choice downplays the true strength of the opposing side, in an attempt to make his soldiers more confident. A positive, encouraging leader would highlight the good points of their own army, but Richard decides to focus on the negative of the opposing side. Richard also compares them to coins made of invaluable material, by using the word “base”. This word is usually us...


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...o the head!” He uses an anaphora to place emphasis on the words ‘fight’ and ‘draw’. By emphasizing these words, Richard intends to make his men ruthless. He even goes as far as to tell them to “ride in blood”. The king does not consider the people involved, and the lives that will be lost, but focuses on winning and his own personal gain.
This passage shows that Richard is a very pessimistic person, with a negative and manipulative leadership style. He does not use positive encouragement as a form of motivation, but instead, uses fear and insults. He exploits people’s emotions in order to reach his own goals of beating Richmond, and keeping the power that comes with being the king of England. In the end, however, this does not prevail, as we can see that Richard’s negativity has brought failure upon himself and his army, while the good, righteous Richmond has won.

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