Critical Essays On Richard Iii

The entire play, which according to Richard’s opening monologue begins right after the Battle of Tewkesbury (1471), seems to take up only a year or two, as hardly any passage of time is allowed for in the text of the play.

Richard hardly has time to express his dissatisfaction with the idleness of peacetime, when he rushes off to seduce Lady Anne, sending murderers to Clarence with one hand, and waving goodbye to the dying Edward with the other.

The facts conveyed to Shakespeare, mostly through the medium of the irreproachable Thomas More, ended up every bit as mangled and deformed as the body of his fictional Richard.

The saintly More himself of course, had his facts directly from the source – John Morton, the treacherous strawberry-cultivating bishop of Shakespeare’s play.

Another striking discrepancy is Shakespeare’s insistence on mixing up and compressing dates and names, turning his historical backdrop into an unintelligible web of lost identities and missing years.

Queen Elizabeth’s three brothers for instance (Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers, and Lord Scales), are actually a breakdown of her real brother, Anthony Woodville, who also happened to be Earl Rivers and Lord no doubt a fascinating character and an entertaining villain.It is Shakespeare’s command of the English language, and his keen sense of drama and psychological depth, that make his plays so affecting and deeply memorable.Constantly breaking away from the action of the play, Richard speaks directly to us, sharing his thoughts, his feelings, and his schemes.Shakespeare himself is swept up in awe of the skill, the malice, and the pure, exuberant wickedness of the character he has created.He may not have been stunningly handsome by any standards, but he was definitely far from deformed – he was an able warrior (which even Shakespeare does not deny), and an excellent dancer.His reign as king was short, but not because he was stifled in his tangled web of evil plots, but rather because he the faculty for intrigue that Shakespeare assigns to him.Shakespeare was a brilliant playwright, but nevertheless, he was not a historian; Unfortunately for history, and for Richard, the power and appeal of his plays make this small fact easy to forget.Shakespeare’s Richard is a brilliant schemer and manipulator, completely devoid of scruples of any kind.His vision by the way, unjust and scathing as it is to Richard, leads him somewhat astray from what the Tudors may have wanted as well.Shakespeare’s Richard may be the epitome of vice, but the heroic Richmond, who should in this context have been the avenging angel, crushing the forces of evil with his flaming sword, is just bland.


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