And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Richard's evil ambitions are made manifest at the very outset of the play. His only aim is to wreak chaos in the kingdom, and ultimately become king himself. He appears one-dimensionally evil.
And I no friends to back my suit withal,
But the plain devil and dissembling looks,
And yet to win her,--all the world to nothing!
Here Richard acknowledges that his evil ambitions are his own, and that he has "no friends" to back him (though he has allies). At the same time, he seems to take a perverse joy in winning the hand of Lady Anne -- whose husband's death Richard had a hand in.
O, no! alas, I rather hate myself
For hateful deeds committed by myself!
I am a villain: yet I lie, I am not.
Fool, of thyself speak well:--fool, do not flatter.
Richard speaks these words after awaking from his dream where the ghosts of many of those he killed appeared. His confusions shows how he is alienated from even himself; he is a confused, wrecked man.
O bloody Richard!--miserable England!
I prophesy the fearfull'st time to thee
That ever wretched age hath look'd upon.--
Come, lead me to the block; bear him my head:
They smile at me who shortly shall be dead.
Hastings, about to be executed, laments the state of England. An important aspect of the play is not the villainy of Richard himself, but the fact that his villainy leads England into civil war -- after the country had already been torn apart by previous civil wars.
Alas, why would you heap those cares on me?
I am unfit for state and majesty:--
I do beseech you, take it not amiss:
I cannot nor I will not yield to you
Richard's plan coming to fruition, he dissembles in proclaiming that he does not think himself fit to be a king. Of course, he finally "consents" to be king. All of Shakespeare's villains portray this skill at masking their hidden desires to further their...
(The entire section is 587 words.)
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Essential Passages by Character: Richard III
Essential Passage 1: Act 1, Scene 1
But I,--that am not shap'd for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deform'd, unfinish'd, sent before my time
Into this breathing world scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them;--
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun,
And descant on mine own deformity:
And therefore,--since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,--
I am determined to prove a villain,
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunken prophecies, libels, and dreams,
To set my brother Clarence and the king
In deadly hate the one against the other:
And if King Edward be as true and just
As I am subtle, false, and treacherous,
This day should Clarence closely be mew'd up,--
About a prophecy which says that G
Of Edward's heirs the murderer shall be.
Richard, Duke of Gloucester, brother to the newly crowned Edward IV, opens the play with a soliloquy, explaining in sarcastic tones that peace has come through the victory over the House of Lancaster by the House of York. He speaks of the festivities and celebrations over Edward’s ascension on Henry VI’s throne. Yet he himself, he states, is not made for such joyousness, due to his physical appearance. He is portrayed as hunchbacked and crippled, unattractive to women and of a somewhat frightening appearance so that even the dogs bark at him. Because he has been cheated out of love and attractiveness, he will take his vengeance on the world by claiming power by whatever means he can. He announces to the audience that he is not content to be the “ugly brother” of the king. He intends to be the king himself. But first he must remove all roadblocks between him and the throne.
First of all, he must eliminate his elder brother the Duke of Clarence, who would next be in line for the...
(The entire section is 1750 words.)
Essential Passages by Theme: Good vs. Evil
Essential Passage 1: Act 1, Scene 2
Fairer than tongue can name thee, let me have
Some patient leisure to excuse myself.
Fouler than heart can think thee, thou canst make
No excuse current but to hang thyself.
By such despair I should accuse myself.
And by despairing shalt thou stand excus'd;
For doing worthy vengeance on thyself,
That didst unworthy slaughter upon others.
Say that I slew them not?
Then say they were not slain:
But dead they are, and, devilish slave, by thee.
I did not kill your husband.
Why, then he is alive.
Nay, he is dead; and slain by Edward's hand.
In thy foul throat thou liest: Queen Margaret saw
Thy murderous falchion smoking in his blood;
The which thou once didst bend against her breast,
But that thy brothers beat aside the point.
I was provoked by her slanderous tongue
That laid their guilt upon my guiltless shoulders.
Thou wast provoked by thy bloody mind,
That never dreamt on aught but butcheries:
Didst thou not kill this king?
I grant ye.
Dost grant me, hedgehog? then, God grant me too
Thou mayst be damned for that wicked deed!
O, he was gentle, mild, and virtuous.
The better for the king of Heaven, that hath him.
He is in heaven, where thou shalt never come.
Let him thank me that holp to send him thither,
For he was fitter for that place than earth.
And thou unfit for any place but hell.
Lady Anne, widow of Edward (the son of the late King Henry VI), is following the funeral procession of her husband and father-in-law when she is accosted by Richard, the Duke of Gloucester. Anne makes it very clear that she despises Richard for the murderer that he is. Yet Richard has plans, namely marrying the widow of the man he so recently...
(The entire section is 1774 words.)