I have to analyze the text to discover HOW (not why) Richard in "Richard III" is successful with his manipulation.

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare portrays Richard III as an adroit user of both reverse psychological and sympathy.  He plays upon the sympathy and desires of his subjects, and contradicts his own wishes so that he seems to be "accepting" as opposed to "leading" - a much less threatening position.

This begins in Act I, scene iii.  Richard has determined to marry Anne, daughter-in-law to Henry VI.  Although Anne is rightfully suspicious of Richard, his actions towards her confuse.  He shows sympathy for her, and empathy for her emotions.  He allows her the power to kill him if she really believes him guilty, laying out a dagger and laying open his bare chest.  His behavior so contradicts that of the arrogant villian she knows him to be that she is thrown off, confused.  Richard is successful.

Look at the scene in Act III, scene vii, when Richard is urged to take the crown.  This is what he has been plotting.  However, he reacts with reluctance:

Therefore,--to speak, and to avoid the first,
And then, in speaking, not to incur the last,--
Definitively thus I answer you.
Your love deserves my thanks; but my desert
Unmeritable shuns your high request.

This causes the people to "push" him to take leadership, placing him in a position that is above reproach.  He is not "claiming" power, but manipulating others into putting power into his hands.

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Richard III

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