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Unformatted text preview: ueen Elizabeth by her first husband. Rivers is her brother. They are among those cursed by Margaret. Rivers and Grey are executed but Dorset escapes to Richmond in Brittany. Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond: the leader of the Lancastrian rebellion against Richard III. He describes himself as the agent of God’s justice and urges his followers to trust in and praise God. He is also concerned for the members of his family – particularly his stepfather Stanley Earl of Derby. Ratcliffe and Catesby: followers of Richard Tyrrel: a man whom Richard hires to kill the two princes imprisoned in the Tower of London. In turn he gets two other men to carry out the murders. Stanley (also referred to as the Earl of Derby): stepfather to the Earl of Richmond, Richard’s rival. He wants to help Richmond, but Richard takes his son hostage to ensure his loyalty. In the battle his forces remain neutral and don’t join in on Richard’s side. MAJOR THEMES and SYMBOLS 1) Ambition, greed for power and the evil it brings – Richard’s desire for power is overwhelming and the evil he commits to achieve this knows no bounds. He is an example of the Machiavellian anti‐hero, which was a popular type in Elizabethan theatre: he is the play’s main character, but his qualities are mostly bad rather than good. Machiavelli was an Italian political intriguer of the 15th Century whose ambitions were unbounded and whose methods were unscrupulous. He wrote a book extolling the virtues of absolute power. 2) Kingship and subjects – we see the relationship between commoners and their rulers – what makes a good ruler? The people begin to fear Richard when they see his brutal murders. Richmond is portrayed as a godly man who will be a good king. Edward IV – in his only scene – is depicted as a ruler who has seen the error of his ways and wants now to promote peace and harmony. 3) The power of persuasive language – Richard’s principal weapon is his ability to manipulate words, and to manipulate people by his use of words. He speaks more than 30% of the lines in the whole play. In the process he succeeds in persuading people to do murders, to marry him, to offer him the crown, despite all his physical disadvantages and the general loathing in which he is held by the majority of the characters he influences – especially the women. However, in the key addresses to their armies at the end of the play, it is Richmond’s speech to his soldiers which brings victory, rather than Richard’s. 4) Supernatural and dreams – superstition about dreams, foretellings and curses run like a thread through the play. It is Edward’s superstition (influenced by the Queen, who is subsequently accused of being into witchcraft) that leads to Clarence’s arrest; Clarence has a dream which he recounts; Hastings laughs at Stanley’s dream about the dangerous boar but then regrets having done so when his own doom is pronounced; Margaret’s curse is recalled at every death, and both Richard and Richmond dream significantly on the night before the battle. Queen Elizabeth I was herself superstitious and had her own personal astrologer. These things were taken much more seriously in those days. 5) Symbols and imagery: The sun – symbol of kingship; Richard is frequently described by the...
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- Spring '14