Richard Iii

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English Essay- Richard III
“Through exploring connections between texts, a deeper understanding of each text emerges. Discuss this statement with reference to King Richard III and looking for Richard.”

The way a text’s central values and themes are portrayed to an audience can be greatly influenced by the context in which it is set, although many of these themes can carry on through the time in which it was set in and still be relevant to a modern audience. William Shakespeare’s “King Richard III” is a good example of this as many of the central values in this text are still quite relevant to a contemporary audience. Although there are still many barriers such as Shakespeare’s unique language style and the play’s Elizabethan context, that prevent a modern audience from understanding these central values. Al Pacino uses his docu-drama “Looking for Richard” to try to break down the barriers that prevent a contemporary audience from understanding the original play by reshaping the central values of power, evil and manipulation and making them presentable to modern audience. Through reshaping and making the themes more accessible to a modern audience, Pacino has allowed for a connection between the texts to be made and a deeper understanding of each of the texts to emerge. In the 16th century, plays were the primary form of entertainment. Shakespeare had to use his excellent imagery and expressions to attract and entertain Elizabethan audiences. Now in the 20th century, film medium is seen as the superior form of entertainment. As a result, Al Pacino has the ability to use special effects and excellent camera angles to portray Shakespeare’s historical play in a modern context. In the Elizabethan era, power was seen as a very important part of society due to the hierarchical structure. In Shakespeare’s “Richard III”, power is represented through the position of King. The desire for power is Richard’s central motivation, and to get power, he must become the King of England. Richard is eager for this position throughout the whole play and he does eventually get the position of King, giving Richard the power that he wants “God take King Edward to his mercy, And leave the world for me to bustle in!” (Act I, scene i, line 157). This quote shows how Richard views power as he is less interested in self-advancement and superiority than being able to do evil things with his power. Throughout the play, metaphors are used comparing Richard to a boar. Richmond refers to Richard as a “wretched, bloody, usurping boar” (Act V, scene ii, line 7), this comparison is used to highlight the fact that Richard has stolen the throne and his reign as King has been running England into the ground. In the Elizabethan era there was a strong belief in the ‘Chain of Being’ and the ‘Divine Right of Kings’, which if disturbed would disrupt natural order and bad things would happen. An Elizabethan audience would understand this, but for a contemporary audience, it is hard to grasp. This is different to Al Pacino’s “Looking for Richard” as in his docu-drama he promotes the idea of power as a human construct. Pacino uses democratic ideals and current political realities to establish parallels between Richard’s situation and a modern context. “Every time there’s an election in this country, whether for mayor…president or city council… the fact is people are tired of the way it’s been and want a change.” Pacino also makes a comparison between the nobles in the Elizabethan era, which a contemporary audience would find hard to understand, and compares them with “Dons”, who are leading figures in a mob or organised crime group. This comparison is also an intertextual reference to the film “The Godfather”, a film where Pacino plays the main character, a Don. Through doing this, Pacino gives the audience who may not be familiar with the Elizabethan power structure an insight into what the power structure would be like, if the story were to be set in a modern...
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