Richard often uses his acting skills; this helps him get close to his targets and gets what he wants mainly power and eventually the throne. Richard pretends that he is pleased that the fighting is over on page one but. During his soliloquy he is bitter because he is deformed and cannot enjoy the same things as others. Richard is acting as he shows concern to Clarence from lines forty two to one hundred and seventeen of the first scene. He changes his tone, having told the audience his evil plan, he acts as though he is unaware why Clarence is being sent to the tower, “What means this armed guard that waits upon thy grace?”
Richard pretends to make peace with his enemies in order to make them trust him so that he will be able to get away without accusation, “To any in this presence, I desire to reconcile me to his friendly peace.” Richard acts modestly and pretends to be unwilling as he is offered to take the throne, this fools everyone and they believe that he is a pious man and his modesty shows how good a man he is. “I am unfit for state and majesty. I do beseech you, take it not amiss; I cannot nor I will not yield to you.” This also shows how he takes risks through the play as the Lord Mayor and citizens may have just accepted his refusal and turned away.
Richard often manipulates others right through the play. He mostly succeeds in achieving his goals and mocks people for the weakness after getting what he wants. Richard blames Clarence’s imprisonment on queen, ” ‘Tis not the king that sends you to the Tower. My lady Grey, his wife, Clarence, ’tis she that tempts him to this harsh extremity” Richard offers the bribe of the earldom of Hereford to Buckingham; this bribe helps Richard successfully manipulate him. Buckingham helps Richard quite a lot during the play but later Richard does not honour his promise.
He convinces the Lord Mayor that Hastings was an enemy and so he had reason to kill him. “We live to tell it, that the subtle traitor this day had plotted, in the council house,” By giving the Mayor a reason why Hastings deserved to be killed, the Citizens would feel as though Richard did the correct thing and was justified, the public would then not see him as a bad person. Richard tries to convince Elizabeth that he will replace her dead sons by marrying and having children with her daughter.
“If I did take the kingdom from your sons, to make amends I’ll give it to your daughter. This is the first time Richard fails in manipulating someone during his plan. It is only Richard’s mother, Queen Elizabeth and the house of Tudor against him. Now that he believes that he has the Queen on his side and her daughter as his wife he feels enough power to be unstoppable, but in reality Richmond has the command to overrule him. Richard is a very cynical character. He is unforgiving and incredibly egotistical. Richard mocks Clarence as he is taken to the tower, “Simple, plain Clarence,” Richard feels he superior to everyone and so insults everyone, he suggests that Clarence is stupid even though he had little way of knowing.
Richard shows cynicism to his mother, “Do then, but I’ll not hear” because He is king and only cares about himself, Richard gets what he wants and so he is rude to his own Mother, because he doesn’t want to speak to her.
Richard mocks the opposition before the battle “Remember whom you are to cope withal: a sort of vagabonds, rascals and runaways, A scum of Bretons and base lackey peasants,” The way that Richard insults his opposition shows how little he cares about his army, as long as he retains the crown, in comparison to Richmond encourages his side and is fighting for God and all good. “God and our good cause fight upon our side.” Richard’s oration to his soldiers shows desperation and how he solely cares about himself.
Richard often makes jokes in the play. These aren’t always humorous to the audience but they please Richard himself. Richard tells Buckingham to chop off Catesby’s head if he doesn’t go along with his plan, without deliberation. In Act four Scene four Richard enjoys the deaths of the princes’, he even wants to hear about the deaths. “When thou shalt tell the process of their death.” In the play Richard is a gambler. He takes calculated risks. These risks may just be to make his acting more realistic or just a hazardous part of his plan.
Towards the beginning of the play Richard orders Clarence to be killed regardless of the fact that he knows that the king intends to pardon him, he could easily have been accused. Throughout the play Richard speaks openly against Queen Elizabeth. “Our brother is imprisoned by your means,” He blames the sentence of Clarence on her. He also has a rumour spread that her children were illegitimate. This was a major factor as to why he was an unsuccessful king, Elizabeth then did not allow Richard to marry her daughter; this meant he had failed a part of his plan helping Richmond overcome Richard.
Richard fights in the battle at Bosworth where he could die and lose his crown which he had worked hard for. Richard has the mind of a murderer. Although he doesn’t kill anyone himself, he does order the deaths of Clarence, Rivers, Hastings, The two Princes, Buckingham and he also takes George Stanley hostage as a threat to Stanley if he changed sides, fortunately for George he gets away. These characteristics may not have reflected the true Richard but Shakespeare did what he aimed to do well, spoil Richard’s name.
Shakespeare wrote this play around one hundred and ten years after the people that he writes about. In the end of the play Richmond becomes King as Henry VII. His claim to the throne was very weak and his royal ancestry was traced back to John of Gaunt, through a female link at a time of patriarchy. Due to his questionable right to the throne he needed to destroy Richard’s reputation and in this way he would gain more respect and support as king.
Whilst under Henry VII and Henry VIII, historians had a view of Richard as an evil king. Thomas More ‘History of Richard III’ (1513-18) and Polydore Vergil ‘Historia Anglia’ (1534) were both early Tudor historians and were to blame for Richard’s poor image. There is some evidence that Richard’s deformities are stressed by Tudor historians and that paintings were edited to coincide with the historians’ views. The deformities, which may have been untrue, are linked with an evil nature. This is unfair and is not so much believed in the present day.
There is evidence that Richard was not directly responsible for Clarence’s execution and that Clarence was deserving of imprisonment as he was disloyal to his brother King Edward IV. It is now known that Richard had not killed King Henry VI. Anne died naturally after a happy marriage to Richard. This shows that he is not as cynical as Shakespeare portrays him throughout the play. Richard did not make himself Lord Protector, he was appointed by Edward IV. Richard was loyal and trusted by his brother, that’s why he was given land in the north. Richard is now thought to have been faithful to his brother and was not the backstabber as shown in the play. Parliament approved Richard’s claim to be King, he may have actually had the right to the throne.
Richard may have genuinely believed that the princes were illegitimate, rather than spreading rumours to get to the throne, and he was justified in keeping them from the throne. Richard regarded himself as king and rather than the usurper that Shakespeare portrays. There is no evidence that Richard is linked to the deaths of the two Princes in the Tower of London. Richard was possibly not the murderer he was believed to be in the Tudor years, nor that he murdered anyone, other than in battle.
Richmond’s claim to the throne was weaker than Richard’s. After Richmond became King he tried to blacken Richard and that eventually became history for Shakespeare, he may have thought that his play was historically correct.