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Task: Give an account of the methods, which Shakespeare uses to reveal Richard’s character to us and to shape our attitudes towards him. You should also refer to Shakespeare’s manipulation of history and the way in which he sets out to present Richard III in a particular way. Richard the third was king during the 15th century and happened to be one of the best kings England had, and did, as kings go, a good job of running the country. Shakespeare however makes him out to be an evil manipulative person who does anything and everything to gain power.
Also Shakespeare meddles about with time and the order in which things really happen, with the basic concept of making Richard seem even more scheming and seductive. Why should such a brilliant playwright want to lie about a good and decent king such as Richard the third? As soon as you start this play, Shakespeare is already hammering the image of Richard as a disgusting and rotten toad who is so evil and horrible that such quotations as used as a description for him. “That dogs bark at me as I halt by them”
Another thing that happens is that Shakespeare, instead of setting the scene and keeping it calm in the first act, already is getting the plot introduced and thickened. Within the first 10 pages of the Oxford edition it already has Richard killing someone by methods, which involve others doing the dirty work for his own benefit. “Simple plain Clarence, I do love thee so That I will shortly send your soul to heaven. ” This is Shakespeare telling you that Richard is a character which has no conscience, as he can say this one line so happily and knowing that by saying it Clarence is as well as dead.
This is a good example of Shakespeare using irony in its full potential in this play. In the second scene of Act 1 Richard is seducing Lady Anne even though he has just recently killed her husband and does so with the corpse next to them. This is again Shakespeare making Richard seem heartless and a man who bears no conscience. “Your bedchamber” In this quotation Richard is saying where he’d like to stay and this is a clear line, which is telling the reader he is trying to get Lady Anne to marry him. With this quotation and scene of the seducing of Lady Anne, Shakespeare is revealing another part of Richards’s character.
He is showing us that this foul toad Richard can be charming and quite a ladies man when he wants to be. By doing this however he also implies that the character of Richard will be a very manipulative one, as he turns emotions and styles of behavior on and off as it is needed, it is not very often that he is sincere about the way he feels. When Shakespeare wrote this play he made some peculiar changes to its chronological order, he moved things forward and backwards through time to suit his play. I suppose in this way Shakespeare has something in common with Richard, they both are very fond of using manipulation to makes things go their way.
The method, which Shakespeare uses, is called the manipulation of history and the reason he does so is to make the image of Richard in the audiences head seem even worse and more evil still. What actually happened was that Richard married Lady Anne 6 years after her husband’s death. However, in Shakespeare’s version of events is that the coffin is still present and fresh when Richard seduces and goes on to marry in way under 6 years. You see that Shakespeare hasn’t even finished the first act yet but still there is an awful lot to take in, in terms of plot, and you can see the basic structure Richard is cunningly using to get into power.
We know that Richard does become king and does get killed at the end, but that isn’t what makes this play what it is, it is the way the character of Richard is gradually revealed to us in different forms, whether it be a murderer, a joker, a charmer or his majesty himself. As Richard moves on he discovers (to his pleasure) that the king is very ill and will undoubtedly die soon from natural causes. You see that Richard isn’t at all bothered by the fact that a man is going to die, but is more bothered about how to become king after he is gone.
Act 3 scene 1 is an important scene in this play when looking at Richards’s character and shapes another side of Richard into your mind. This time it is the joker that he is playing. All the while though, when Richard puts on these fake moods and behaviors he always has on thing on his mind, and that is self-gain. Shakespeare seems to make him out as a greedy character as we see later on when he is finally crowned. In this scene he talks with the young princes and is where he is joking with them. He has been made Lord protector of them and is a good example of irony as he is the one responsible for their death.