In this essay, I will try to explain the reasons why the audience feels admiration and has a sense of sympathy toward Richard III despite his tyranny and evil intentions based on the opening soliloquy. We will also asses the social, philosophical and historical context in order to explain why the audience may or may not feel admiration and a sense of sympathy toward Richard III. Richard should be admired for his bravery firstly. If we look at the historical context, we find that Richard had just won a war against the Lancastrians to give his family the crown.
In the beginning of the soliloquy some of the audience would maybe get the idea, that Richard must be quite a firm person, who interested in the desires of life, such as ‘sportive tricks’. This is as everyone else is indulging deep into their ‘sportive tricks’, and despite the ‘ lascivious pleasing of a lute’ it doesn’t seem to interest him. This may draw both audiences to feel admiration for him due his maturity. This would be taken out of context, as when we read on we find that this is what he wants.
He wants indulge in these ‘sportive tricks’; but the he cannot as he describes himself with many adjectives and emotive phrases like ‘cheated of feature by dissembling nature, deformed, unfinished, sent before my time’. . These quotes really elaborate on how he feels and show his frustration to fulfill his desire. the various adjectives used are applied so the contemporary audience understand, as they believed that god made them. What it really implies is that god has cheated him and forgot to finish him off.
For the contemporary audience they would find this very offensive. This was as the philosophical context shows that in Elizabethan times religion was very important. They would believe God always represented good and to associate him with a word, worthy of no honour like ‘cheated’. This would very blasphemous. Furthermore, the social context of Elizabethan times shows they would fell no empathy toward those who were deformed or disabled.
This was due to a literal interpretation of the verse from the Bible in the Genesis (1:26), which is, God made everything in His image. Elizabethans would think that deformity or disability was due to the sinning and indulging in evil acts due to temptations from the Devil. According to them this reflects in their appearance which is deformity and this is why they were looked down. According to Richard, even dogs look down at Richard as he mentions, ‘dogs bark as I halt by them’, therefore the contemporary audience would believe that he is cursed due to his own fault.