The Use of Humor in Richard Iii by Shakespeare

Topics: William Shakespeare, The Reader, Lie Pages: 3 (1327 words) Published: June 7, 2011
The Use of Humor in Richard III

There is no doubt that Shakespeare was the author of great pieces of literature during an interesting time period. Given the circumstances, he was indeed mastering his craft during a very tumultuous juncture in British history. When one reads Richard III, they don’t necessarily have to know a great deal about the War of Roses to understand that there is some serious strife going on. However, if the reader takes some time to understand this fascinating string of events, the story of Richard and his fall becomes much more interesting. In all of his brilliance, Shakespeare manages to toy with the idea of humor in this very morose play. As a matter of fact, he does this in many, if not all of his tragedies. However, few may match the juxtaposition of humor with the macabre in Richard III. After a reading of this play, one may ask, “how does Shakespeare use humor in this play?” The answer to that would be: in a few different ways. However, no matter which was he uses humor; the end result will be a perfectly balanced dialogue that is witty and snappy. First, the reader is introduced to the play’s protagonist, Richard. His opening lines are incredibly captivating, but they come to an abrupt halt when his brother Clarence approaches. Already, the audience is let in on Richards “dirty little secret” that tells us he wants to become king, and will kill anyone who stands in his way. Unfortunately for Clarence, he is in the way. However, the reader would be keen to notice that Richard is a manipulative satirist. He constantly uses humor and ridicule to expose the stupidity or even naivety of others around him. In the very first scene, Clarence is being led up to the tower by guards, which is all part of Richard’s master plan. When Richard asks about the situation, he is sympathetic and angry. At this point, the reader gains some insight to what kind of person Richard is, and may even see a slight hint of humor in the situation. Indirectly,...
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