How does Shakespeare explore the theme of villainy in Richard III? Richard III is an historical play written by William Shakespeare during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, depicting the contentious rise to power of King Richard III of England and his short reign as King. Richard III is the final play in a cycle of eight plays written by Shakespeare dramatizing English history from 1398 to 1485. The theme of villainy is intricately explored throughout the play as one of its main themes. Shakespeare effectively explores the theme of villainy through the use of dramatic techniques such as character soliloquies and literary techniques such as symbolism. These techniques enable Shakespeare’s ideas of villainy to be developed and explored, which in turn adds to the play’s entertainment.
Throughout Richard III there are a number of character soliloquies, which give the audience critical insight into a character’s mind; allowing them to understand what the character is thinking. Richard of Gloucester, later known as Richard III, is the main character and anti-hero, who has many soliloquies throughout the play, many for the audience’s benefit. His soliloquies allow the audience to understand and obtain a better perception of his emotions and what thoughts are occurring in his twisted mind. Richard towards the beginning of the play talks of his hatred of all people in the world, due to him being unloved. In this soliloquy, as he cannot be successful in love, Richard openly admits himself to be a villain, plainly referring to himself as one, ‘I am determined to prove a villain’ (Act 1 Scene 1), this is an example of how Shakespeare uses the technique of soliloquies to explore the theme of villainy; through expression of emotions. This is not the only instance in which Richard proclaims himself a villain, ‘And thus I clothe my naked villainy with odd old ends stol’n forth of holy writ, and seem a saint when I play the devil’ (Act 1 Scene 3) is a part of another soliloquy...
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