1- Richard III, The Protagonist
“Yet neither can his blood redeem him [Richard III] from injurious tongues, nor the reproach offered his body be thought cruel enough, but that we must still make him more cruelly infamous in Pamphlets and Plays.” (1617—William Cornwallis. From Essays of Certaine Paradoxes)
Richard III is written in 1591-1592. Richard III is the dominant character of the play as that he is both the protagonist of the story and its major villain as he possesses both the heroic and villiniary qualities. Richard III is an intense exploration of the psychology of evil, and that exploration is centered on Richard’s mind. Critics sometimes compare Richard to the medieval character, Vice, who was a flat and one-sided embodiment of evil. Richard at the end proves to be highly self-reflective and complicated—making his heinous acts all the more chilling. He hires thugs to kill most of his family and other people in power in order to gain the throne. At one point he seduces Lady Anne to gain power through her familial connections. He then rumors her sickness and impending death in order to kill her in the same way he slaughtered her father and husband. Once he has killed his two young cousins, his brother, and other people who stand in his way, he becomes King Richard III.
The audience of Richard III experiences a complex, ambiguous, and highly changeable relationship with the main character. Richard is clearly a villain—he declares outright in his very first speech that he intends to stop at nothing to achieve his nefarious designs. But despite his open allegiance to evil, he is such a charismatic and fascinating figure that, for much of the play, we are likely to sympathize with him, or at least to be impressed with him. Even characters such as Lady Anne, who has an explicit knowledge of his wickedness, allow themselves to be seduced by his brilliant wordplay, his skillful argumentation, and his relentless pursuit of his selfish desires. This play according to Herald bloom is called melodrama and it has got astonishing vitality though it is the most uneven play. No other role in the play matter that much except him. He describes himself as a deformed destined to be the outcast. He is ‘deformed monster’ and ‘arch villain’ (Bloom-60)
Iago is no hero-villain, and no shift in perspective will make him into one. Pragmatically, the authentic hero-villain in Shakespeare might be judged to be Hamlet, but no audience would agree. Macbeth could justify the description, except that the cosmos of his drama is too estranged from any normative Representation for the term hero-villain to have its oxymoronic coherence. Richard and Edmund would appear to be the models, beyond Marlowe, that could have inspired Webster and his fellows, but Edmund is too uncanny and superb a representation to provoke emulation. (Herald Bloom, Shakespeare through the Ages-2010).
Richard III is very similar to Iago who is an impotent while Richard III is deformed. He is a villain and a conspirator against the other characters of the play. Richard III is even more corrupt villain because he is plotting against his own flesh and blood and sets about seducing a woman whose husband and father he personally slain, all through the practice of manipulation and speech. Richard is clearly self conscious and self loathing, to go as far as to say dogs bark at him when he walks by because he is so ugly to behold. Richard simply uses his deformity as a tool to gain the sympathy of others—including his audience. He explains that:
“Since I cannot prove a lover/ To entertain these fair well-spoken days, / I am determined to prove a villain/ and hate the idle pleasures of these days” (28-31).
Richard III is bold enough to suggest that he is “fit” to see Lady Anne in her bedchamber. According to Harold bloom, Iago is the perfect villain, he is evil while Richard is infectious, same is the case with Macbeth who is over...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document