The audience learns quite a lot about Richards’s personality agenda and beliefs from the opening soliloquy that he makes. Richard is ‘discontent’ with the state of peace in which England is in at the time. In battle he may perhaps have been a formidable warrior who used ‘to fright the souls of fearful adversaries’. War may have been what he was good at, and considering he is related to King Edward he was probably a general in the Wars of the Roses. This means that now there are no more battles to be fought, and Richard has a lot of time on his hands. He has ‘no delight to pass away the time’
The audience learns some shocking things about Richards’s views on love and loyalty in the soliloquy. Richard is a very bitter man and because of his deformity, feels that he can not pass the time by flirting and other things to do with women. He is a very disloyal person and probably would have a bad relationship with a woman because he wants to set his ‘brother Clarence and the king in deadly hate the one against the other’ so that they eliminate each other and he can take control and run things how he sees fit. He is willing to betray his own family to meet his ends.
He is not much for pastimes such as strutting ‘before a wanton ambling nymph’ or ‘sportive tricks’ as his deformity prevents him from participating in such activities as he is ‘lame’. He has little time or respect for people that he thinks are fools, or who are better than him through having no deformity.
The audience also learn that he thinks very little of his brothers as he is willing to have them be at each others throats. He also doesn’t think too much of their intelligence. He had a prophecy made up ‘which says that G’ of Edwards kin will kill him. He is that G, the Duke of Gloucester and the audience believe that he must think that his brothers are very stupid not to see his deliberate mistake his prophecy.
He thinks very little of himself or his body as he is deformed. His deformity makes him unable to caper ‘nimbly in a lady’s chamber’. He has no dignity thanks to his deformity as even ‘dogs bark at me as I halt by them’. He is unable to participate in sport, have relationships with women, or have dignity. This understandably has warped his mind and he decides that ‘since I cannot prove a lover’ then he is ‘determined to prove a villain’. He does however have a high opinion of his intelligence.
This apparent from his deliberate mistake and the fact that when his prophecy is made known to Edward, Clarence (whose first name is George and therefore the G in the prophecy) is almost immediately arrested. His effect on the audience is initially one where they feel sorry for him being bitter as his deformity is causing him much grief. Later on the audience learn that he is arrogant and scheming but can back up his intelligence as it would take great organisational skill to have Clarence arrested so quickly.