Richard III -interpretations

Length: 6 Pages 1388 Words

Richard III has intrigued many throughout the ages and its multidimensional possibilities give rise to many interpretations. It can be viewed from a traditional Shakespearean tragedy angle, because of its concerns with ambition and fear, and the presence of definitive revenge elements. On the other hand, a Marxist text is also possible. A turbulent court and its dealings with the nature of power, point to a Marxist model of class struggle within a distinctly classed society. Tragedy plays are often characterised by the exploration of ambition and fear. The lure of the throne engenders ambition which compels Richard to murder. His single-mindedness murders his brother, Clarence so that his path to kingship may be cleared. However, fear also compels Richard to murder to remain in power. Richard admits that he has stepped “so far in blood that sin will pluck on sin” which gives him enough courage to murder the two princes – the pinnacle of his bloodiness. His soul is consequently set in turmoil. Anne complains of his murdered sleep – “I…never…did…sleep with his timorous dreams”. On the eve of Bosworth, Richard is wracked by guilt and self-doubt. Though it does not last long, his psyche is nevertheless unsettled Continue...

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In all, Richard III can be perceived as a tragedy play as well as a Marxist text. Henry VI's (a Lancastrian) reign is usurped by the Yorkist Edward IV who himself is displaced by Richard (another Yorkist) and finally he is conquered by a Lancastrian, Richmond. Richard, Edward IV and Richmond, all founders of the three eras in the play, begin from the upper strata of the court that can be attributed to the upper class of a capitalist society. The English court can be seen as a microcosm of the Marxist model of class struggle in a society. Buckingham plays an important role in Richard's inevitable rise to power. Revenge, another recurring theme in tragedy plays, is particularly evident. iii, 196-227 Conscience does end up "gnawing on his soul, resulting in sleepless nights and he dies ignominiously on foot in battle. A storm wrecks Buckingham's fleet so that he may be conveniently captured by Richard - and punished by death for his sins. This corrosive effect that comes only with murder and fear is a common theme in tragedy plays like "Macbeth. Hence, like the "upper class, it is only natural that he would want to displace Edward IV, "And leave the world for me to bustle in. Edward's past is tainted at Tewkesbury and his rash imprisonment of Clarence makes him cry out in horror, "O God I fear thy justice will take hold on me. The stress of the bombshell, which Richard drops, kills him, realising his fear. He masterminds Richard's schemes; it is he who secures the princes, evicting them from the sanctuary and defeating the Archbishop. Power and the possession of it, is therefore seen to be a continuous cycle. As wealth and influence shifts, Buckingham defects to Richmond's side, and marks the start of Richard's downslide from power.


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