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Why is Richard III so profoundly evil?

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enotes | Valedictorian

Posted September 8, 2013 at 3:56 PM via web

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Why is Richard III so profoundly evil?

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enotes | Valedictorian

Posted September 8, 2013 at 3:56 PM (Answer #1)

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In the speech that begins Richard III, the title character gives us an explicit answer to this question: he is evil by his very nature. A misshapen hunchback whose image is unpleasing to the eye, Richard recognizes that he cannot be a lover and so he is "determined to prove a villain" (I, i., l.30). Macbeth is ambitious, and like the protagonist of the Scottish tragedy, Richard seeks (and gains) the throne. But unlike Macbeth, there is no redeeming quality in Richard III, no "lady" with whom he shares a tender moment or even a Banquo to betray. Awakening from the visitation of the ghosts of those who he has murdered, Richard comes to grips with his utter evil, saying to himself, "Alas, I rather hate myself/For hateful deeds committed by myself/I am a villain; yet I lie, I am not" (V, iii, ll.189-191). Evil and deceit are innate in Richard III.

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