Richard Iii: Power of Language and Own Villainy

Topics: Edward IV of England, Protagonist, House of York Pages: 3 (950 words) Published: February 19, 2011
Deformed in body and twisted in mind, Richard is in every way the dominant character of the play, to the extent that he is both the play’s protagonist and major villain. He is selfish, evil, corrupt, sadistic, and manipulative. His intelligence, political brilliance, and dazzling use of language keeps the audience fascinated and his subjects and rivals under his control. At the beginning of the play, it is made clear to the audience that Richard has no justification for seizing the throne. This is because England is obviously not oppressed or subject to tyranny as the lengthy civil war has just ended, and Richard’s oldest brother, King Edward IV, now sits on the throne. Richard himself, states that ‘All the clouds that loured upon our house’ (1.1, 3), the house of York, has been dispelled by the ‘son of York’ (1.1, 2), King Edward IV. However, Richard intends to upset the kingdom by seizing power for himself. He says that ‘since I cannot prove a lover to entertain these fair well-spoken days, I am determinèd to prove a villain’ (1.1, 28). This simply means that since Richard was not made to be a lover, he has no use for peace, and will happily destroy peace with his crimes. This shows Richard’s unabashed enjoyment of his own villainy as he can so blithely toss aside all of the things that the rest of humanity cherishes. Richard III is an intense exploration of the psychology of evil, and that exploration is centred on the workings of Richard’s mind and the methods he uses to manipulate, control, and injure others for his own gain. Perhaps more than any other play by Shakespeare, the audience of Richard III experiences a complex, indefinite, and highly erratic relationship with the main character. Richard is clearly a villain as he declares outright in his very first speech that he intends to stop at nothing to achieve his ultimate goal of becoming king. However, despite his open allegiance to evil, he has such a charismatic and fascinating personality that,...
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