Looking for Richard Comparative Essay

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William Shakespeare’s “King Richard III”, an Elizabethan play written as a piece of Tudor propaganda, and Al Pacino’s 1996 docudrama “Looking For Richard” set in contemporary New York, have distinctive parallels in what values they concern themselves with despite their markedly different contexts. Our understanding of both texts is advanced through exploring the composers’ contrasting values of free will clashing with Providentialism and the importance of integrity and honesty in the Murder of Clarence scene from “Looking for Richard” as well as its corresponding scene from “King Richard III” (Act 1 Scene IV) and the Coronation scene (Act 3 Scene 7) and from an examination of how these flow from the changes in context. In Act 1 scene 4 of “King Richard III”, Shakespeare explores the concept of free will clashing with Providentialism through the debate between Clarence and the two Murderers. Shakespeare juxtaposes Clarence’s dream with his murder in order to affirm the value of Providentialism and the Great Chain of Being which underpinned Elizabethan hierarchical society. On wakening from his dream, Clarence describes the torment of his soul in Hell at the behest of Warwick and the murdered Prince Edward who, “dabbled in blood” demands that the furies “take him in torment”. Clarence accepts his crimes and the punishment which is to be his as a just outcome of Providentialism, praying only that God “spare my guiltless wife and children”. This is immediately juxtaposed with the entrance of the two Murderers who, in their decision to murder a Prince, represent the rising power of secularism and free will. Shakespeare explores this dichotomy in Clarence’s pleas for his life; firstly he appeals to their secular greed, promising that “my brother Gloucester…shall reward you” for his life and, when this fails, asks if they “will war with God” by murdering him. Shakespeare’s use of emotive language such as “beastly, savage, devilish” draws attention to the crisis of...
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