Richard III -interpretations

             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, haunted by his past deeds – “O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me; cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh”. This corrosive effect that comes only with murder and fear is a common theme in tragedy plays like “Macbeth”.
             Revenge, another recurring theme in tragedy plays, is particularly evident. The executions of the two princes and Hastings are prime examples of private revenge as Richard settles his score. Hastings meets his end tragically and violently for his unwavering support of Edward V and his imprudent overconfidence. The princes also meet their ends in a similar fashion. They pose a threat to Richard’s crown and hence they are dealt with decisively. Their deaths create p...

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