For this essay I have been given the question; examine the dramatic techniques used by Shakespeare to manipulate the audiences response to Richard. I have restricted myself to examining two scenes in detail. Richard is an extremely quick verbal swordsman and Shakespeare demonstrates this by having very fast interplay between Richard and Anne. Imagery is used – he invokes St.Paul twice, (line 36 and 41) and most of his audience would have been aware that this Saint was one who had undergone a transformation (for the better) in his character.
(Probably not so amongst the rank and file of a modern audience) Anne responds by calling on a higher authority in her speech, mentioning God three times between lines 50 and 70. The religious imagery continues, with angels being counterpoised with devils (Anne – O wonderful, when devils tell the truth – Richard – More wonderful, when angels are so angry) The ironic nature of the choice used by the two characters is interesting, as Richard, the supposedly evil one, is the one who invokes angels. The religious theme recurs throughout the scene with several references to god – “Villain, thou know`st nor law of God nor man,” – ; “Then God grant me too,” and “Having God, her conscience and these bars against me,”.
The sparring in itself provokes an audience reaction – this is a man used to power, wielded quite nakedly, who is using techniques of guile and persuasion to get what he wants. For example the woman that he woo`s has only just cursed him “Cursed the blood that let this blood from hence,” and “Heaven with lightning strike the murderer dead,” This reveals a much more strategic side to Richard as he would never be able to use force on such a woman and this display of humility, sympathy and love underlines his deviousness for as soon as Anne exits he becomes his old joyfully evil self. He even says it himself “What? I that killed her husband and his father, To take her in her hearts extremest hate,”.
The stage positioning creates drama as well, as nobody leaves the stage. Tressel, Berkeley and the corse bearers must be standing separate from Anne and Richard. By definition this means that Anne and Richard must be standing close together quarrelling over a corpse. Also the fact that Richard wins Anne whilst standing next to the body of her dead husband will underline Richards’s skill with words and persuasion.
The effect that this has on the audience is twofold. Firstly the audience gain respect for Richards’s skill with language and persuasion, secondly they see what kind of man Richard really is. His speech and tone in his soliloquy shows that he takes pleasure from his acts and looks upon the situation as a challenge for himself. As a reward for the successful completion of his challenge he will “Entertain a score of tailors and study fashions to adorn my body, since I am crept in favour with myself,” This also creates the feeling that Richard “plays” people to achieve his aims and looks upon his actions as some kind of game. The audience cannot help but admire the sheer courage of this man because only a very confident individual could attempt to win the love of his victims’ wife within such a short space of time (or at all). Yet at the same time the audience must dislike his aims and methods used to achieve them.
This is an extremely short scene but an extremely important one. We see his transformation from cunning, witty and charming rogue to a desperate yet unremorseful man. Catesby informs us that he is fighting valiantly on foot after his horse his killed and that “The king enacts more wonders than a man,” this tells the audience that he however evil he is a brave man and will not shy from battle. His desperation and despair is summed up in the single line “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse.” everything he has ever earned for a simple horse. He stays true to himself throughout, when Catesby offers him retreat Richard is insulted and tells him “Slave, I have set my life upon a cast and I will stand the hazard of the die”.
Telling Catesby that he has lived his life this way and if fate decrees, this is how he will end it. The audience suddenly feel a lot of respect for this man as he refuses help in his hour of need because to do so would not be true to his self. He will also keep fighting until the very end – “I think there be six Richmond’s in the field, five have I slain today instead of him,” He has tried so hard but has not been rewarded. Some may see this as just punishment for his own life but it emphasises his determination and courage in the face of danger.
As Richard is killed very soon after, the audience must feel sorrowful for Richard as in previous scenes we have seen the development of a conscience (“By the apostle Paul, shadows have struck more terror to the soul of Richard than can the substance of ten thousand soldiers,”) and a change in his attitude. He no longer sees it as a game. The audience must be moved by these troubles in him and when he is killed the audience have gone from hate to sorrow but not quickly.
The change has happened slowly over the course of the play as we see Richard himself change to a different man. He no longer takes the mischievous pleasure that he used to, he no longer smiles with delight when one of his tricks succeeds. He is a changed man, haunted by the shadows of his victims and hated by the earthly survivors. We cannot help but grieve for this man as he dies because he is now grieving for those that died by his hand.