Kriii - Context and Values Essay

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‘Shakespeare’s Richard III offers insights into the contextual concerns and values of Elizabethan England’ discuss the above statement with close reference to the play KR3

Context and values reside within any text, and are inevitable whether the text is composed reluctantly or purposely to communicate them. Richard III exerts an overwhelming insight into Elizabethan England context, and the values they upheld. A better understanding of context is evident through the values that derive and are produced by the context. Shakespeare emits a variety of thematic concerns and language techniques that reflect many contexts such as the social, cultural and historical contexts. Furthermore, he develops solid, well-constructed characters that not only contribute to the success of the play, but allows us to gain an understanding of the Elizabethan society. The characters, namely Richard III and Richmond, offer an insight into the contextual concerns of the Elizabethan period. Their values offer modern audiences the opportunity to identify contextual features because the values are a product of the context, as is the text itself. Richard III is the epitome of the villain. He values deceit, devilishness, power and a disconnection from God and family which is against everything the pious Elizabethans believed in and this is depicted through his actions and language “I am determined to prove a villain” (I.i.30). The emphasis on good vs. evil and wrong vs. right was of the utmost significance to audiences because it taught them moral lessons. These moral lessons were important to Elizabethans because religion was an overarching aspect of their cultural context. Shakespeare combined the idea of Richard being deformed together with these values to emphasise the insidious nature of his personality and in effect, contrast him against the heroic Richmond. Audiences at the time would have been shocked by his character and Shakespeare achieves this by contrasting what Richard...
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