Richard’s behaviour cannot be justified. Justifying behaviour is making sure his behaviour is morally correct. His behaviour may not be justified, however it can be understood. There are many reasons why his behaviour in the play is atrocious, many of which are psychological. In the Elizabethan era, mental illness was not seen as a socially excepted thing. Mental illness was not understood nor was it known of. In this play by Shakespeare it shows Richard’s depression and anxiety which has caused him distress.
Richard lll can be compared to Hitler, he wants people to listen to him and wants to be in control and Hitler was compared to the devil, just like Richard had been compared to, “his hell-governed arm hath butchered!”. His mind set in the play is quite similar to Hitler’s. He wants to be in charge and he wants everyone to obey him. He acts as an authority figure, he makes his opinion heard as he tells whoever gets in his way what he is going to do and will do.
This is all because of his authoritarian personality but he also has a slight psychopathic personality. However, many may say this might make his behaviour justified because his personality cannot be easily changed and it was very rare to have psychological help because it did not exist in this era. An authoritarian person has rigid beliefs, is intolerant and yet submissive to those in authority “We are the Queen’s abjects, and must obey.”. There have been a few psychological experiments such as Milgram (1974) which studied authoritarian personalities. Therefore it has been proven that the way Richard’s behaviour has been portrayed in the play that he has an authoritarian personality.
Psychopathic personalities believe it is a socially acceptance expression of their psychopathic with violent and psychologically disordered impulses. This has been proven by the following studies: Milgram, Miale and Selzer. Richard has shown to us that he does not care if anyone knows what he is thinking or feeling, especially with hatred and greed. Robert Hare (1993) states that “psychopaths are social predators who charm, manipulate and ruthlessly ploys their way through life, leaving a broad trail of broken hearts and shattered expectations”.
All these characteristics describe Richard and his personality. Hare also goes on to that psychopaths are “completely lacking in conscience and feeling for others, they selfishly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectation without the slightest sense of guilt or regret”. All these examples indicate the possibility that Richard is a psychopath. Richard charms and manipulates Anne and then breaks her heart. Another symptom is “total self centeredness, incapacity for real love and attachment”.
Richard only marries Anne to prove that he is capable of attracting a lady, “I’ll have her, but I will not keep her long”. Richard is portrayed as having personality disorders. He is every stressed. Stress is caused by anxiety. His anxiety could be caused by the change in responsibilities or family problems. His mental health is also an issue, psychologist claim that our dreams portray and explain our lives and “In thy foul throat li’st! Queen Margaret saw thy murderous falchion smoking In his blood; the which thou once didst bend against her breast, but that thy Brother beat side the point”.
This shows the family problems that Richard has had when he tried to kill his mother with a sword and his brothers had to pull him away. Richard also suffers from depression. His depression is caused by his childhood, which wasn’t very hopeful from the start. He was born with a disability which has gave him a hideous hump on his back. He has been called names, looked down on and called himself “ugly” because of his disability, “Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time”.
His mother has always seen him as “evil”. She doesn’t like to have him around. His physical appearance puts him down and ruins his self-esteem. His dreams haunt him in his sleep. He cannot escape his pain and guilt. His guilt has been formed by many factors. Richard also has a lack of relationship with his mother. He shows this throughout the play and that his mothers rejection of him is a last effect. She realises that Richard plots and schemes and curse him “bloody thou art, bloody will be thy end”. Richard is self obsessed, “Richard loves Richard”. He has self love and self loath. Richard suffers from egocentrism. Richard’s love for himself and selfish traits are what him gain the throne.