“All the world’s a stage…”
The role of acting, disguise, deceit in Richard III
“I am determined to prove a villain” says Richard in the beginning lines in one of the history plays of Shakespeare, Richard III. He is trying to cheat us right in the beginning with this sentence, just as he cheats and deceives everybody later, to finally become the King of England in the end. On the other hand, he is absolutely right, despite being never able to realize this: he really is just a poor man in the hands of fate with nothing else to choose. After he is done with his bloody mission, cleaning England of all the scum, his life has to come to an end. In the beginning instead of the chorus, we see Richard onstage: he plays so many roles that eventually he ‘becomes’ the chorus. He appears with a lump and hunchback, acting as a miserable old man, trying to convince the audience about his handicap by nature. He acts so well that we actually believe that he’s handicapped; it turns out only in the final battle, where he kills five of the best warriors of Richmond alone, that the lump and hunchback might not be real. “I am determined to prove a villain” – he claims he has no other choice, being just an old man whose destiny is to be a villain, no matter what he does. This quote can be understood as being determined by fate, but it also has a strange hidden meaning, stating that he, himself has determined, decided that he will be a villain. He turns out to be quite successful in deceiving the audience, we almost feel sorry for him, even as we learn that he is planning to kill his brother there. Moreover, later on he is more successful in acting upon the characters in the play.
After acting for the audience, stating that he will kill his brother, Richard’s personality immediately turns: he becomes the caring brother of Clarence, whom he wants to kill. After successfully killing his brother with directing two murderers from behind, he starts acting as a heroic lover,...
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