Richard is generally a callous person who shows no remorse to anyone or any action. He is duplicitous, manipulative, deceiving. He counter argues, compliments, quickly responds and twists people’s words. Towards women, he is a different man. He is a very good actor and uses this as an advantage. He normally showers them with compliments and manipulates them. In act 1 scene 2, Richard is put to the test of making Anne agree to marry him.
This would prove difficult, as Richard has killed Anne’s husband and father-in-law. He compliments her in this scene so much, to pacify her. At this stage, Anne is angry and will not listen to him. For Richard to actually persuade her to marry him would be quite difficult. This is where his manipulation techniques come in. “Nay, do not pause: for I did kill King Henry-but ’twas thy beauty that provokes me. Nay, now dispatch ’twas I that stabbed young Edward – but ’twas thy heavenly face that set me on”. This speech from Richard puts Anne in a very difficult position. She ha a sword in her hand, and he is in a vulnerable position. Anne knows he is a murderer and will feel petrified. This is how he manipulates her,
Throughout the scene, there is a certain stichomythia. Where Anne makes fun of Richard and then Richard instantly responds about her beauty. He does not hesitate. “Would it were mortal poison, for thy snake!”, “Never came poison from so sweet a place”. He is responding very quickly and does not give up. Richard says he killed her husband because of her beauty: “Your beauty was the cause of this defect.” He is saying she is so beautiful that he had to kill her husband so she could be free to marry him. He is trying to make out that she is responsible for her husband’s death because he wants to make her feel guilty – if she feel guilty, she will be even more vulnerable. He also uses very romantic language – “your beauty that did haunt me in my sleep”. He knows women like to be called beautiful and telling her he killed because of her beauty emphasises how beautiful he finds her.
Despite Anne’s initial hostility, Richard’s persuasive skills win her over. He is so effective that he makes Anne think Richard has “become penitent” who is honest and show remorse. In act 4 scene 4, Richard talks to Elizabeth in a different tone in contrast to Anne. He doesn’t shower her with compliments but he gives her ideas of thoughts that could be achieved if she agrees to make her daughter marry him. Richard acts very innocent towards Elizabeth as if he has done nothing wrong. “You speak as if that I had slain my cousins.” He is trying to make Elizabeth think that Richard is calm, gentle and caring instead of malicious and cruel.
Richard talks to Elizabeth a lot about advantages for Richard marrying her daughter: “I do intend to make her queen of England”. This would mean Elizabeth would be the queen’s mother.”…But mine shall be a comfort to your age.” This means they will have children and she will be a grandmother and have a family again. When Elizabeth sarcastically goes over all the ways he has hurt her family, Richard says, “You mock me, madam.
This is not the way to win your daughter.” Richard answers simply and directly because he does not know what else to say. Faced with Elizabeth’s bitter sarcasm Richard is no longer being clever, witty and cynical. For the first time, he has met someone who can be more sarcastic than him and he doesn’t know how to answer her. She is not frightened of him, so he cannot threaten her and, in any case, he needs her help to marry her daughter. He realises he can’t get anywhere with her by being so clever, so he decides to persuade her by talking about what she will get out of allowing him to marry her daughter: wealth, status, grandchildren, he son allowed to return from exile.
For the first time in the play, he has to treat someone as an equal. Richard’s treatment of Anne in the first extract is different to the treatment of Elizabeth in the second in several ways: He showers Anne with compliments; he talks to Elizabeth about advantages of her daughter marring him; his conversation to Anne is a lot faster and rapid than the one to Elizabeth.