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shakespeare papers info - s a character Richard is defined...

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s a character, Richard is defined by his thirst for vengeance and power , and by his uncanny ability to manipulate the minds of the very people he has most deeply wounded. All of these characteristics are completely dependent upon opposition; Richard cannot be defined apart from his relationships to the people he is plotting against. He cannot desire vengeance without those he wants revenge against. He cannot desire power without those over whom he desires power. He cannot manipulate people without people to manipulate. Richard's desires for power and vengeance are introduced and outlined in his opening soliloquy in Act 1, Scene 1. His ability to manipulate is illustrated in the stichomythic repartee in his seduction of Anne in Act 1, Scene 2. Richard ceases to be Richard when he no longer has someone or something to define himself against. When he achieves his goal of the throne, he immediately begins his deterioration as a character. Once the people he hates are destroyed, he becomes undefined and begins his ultimate and inevitable demise. Ads by Google In his opening monologue, Richard (at this point, he is the Duke of Gloucester) sets up his character and motivation as a sort of parasitic character who finds his identity only as it can be defined against something or someone, as Auden asserts in his book The Dyer's Hand. In this introduction to his character, we find that he feels undefined, unidentified, and without purpose because a civil war has just ended. In Act 1, Scene 1 (lines 5-13) he describes peace time in the following terms: Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;Our stern alarums chang'd to merry meetings,Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.Grim-visaged war hath smooth'd his wrinkled front;And now, instead of mounting
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barbed steedsTo fright the souls of fearful adversaries, -He capers nimbly in a lady's chamberTo the lascivious pleasing of a lute. Though his side came out of the war victorious and though, for most people, peace time is a merry and pleasant relief from battle, he cannot share in this joy because of the feeling of resentment he holds against nature, society, and particularly his brother Edward, who is well-fitted for the merriment afforded by a season of peace, being strong, handsome, and well-liked. Richard's general resentment of Edward, nature, and society is evident from the beginning of the play, and Auden says that this bitterness is primary to the identity of a Shakespearean villain: "The villainis shown from the beginning as being a malcontent, a person with a general grudge against life and society. In most cases this is comprehensible because the villain has, in fact, been wronged by Nature or Society" (247). Richard's physical deformity causes him to feel that he has no place in a peaceful world, since he believes that he cannot partake in the pleasures offered by peace, namely amorous behavior. His soliloquy in Act 1, Scene 1 (lines 14-27) goes on to expose this bitterness to the audience, saying: Ads by Google
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