Explain the importance of Act 1 Scene 1 to ‘King Richard Third’ Discuss your ideas for presenting these scenes and say, how successfully you think the Loncraine Version interpreted them This plays deals with the story of King Richard third, Duke of Gloucester, and reflects on how he gained the English Throne. The genre is ‘history’ although in our terms it changed to ‘horror’ due to the number of deaths that take place among the characters throughout the film. Richard becomes the focus of the play; it is structured to allow the audience to feel involved and complicit in his crimes.
The backdrop to the play is the infamous civil conflict, ‘the war of the roses’. The play is presented in the Tudor perspective. It was written to flatter the monarchy. Therefore, Shakespeare portrayed Richard in a negative light as a deformed, obsessive villain not a hero. The conflict of the ‘war of the roses’ was a brutal civil war where Queen Elizabeth’s godfather Henry VII defeated Richard and gained the throne of England, the first Tudor monarch. In this way, Shakespeare indicated that the Tudors were the founders of peace, ending the ‘war of the roses’ in favour of Elizabeth. The civil war affected people badly, throughout the whole British Isles. Shakespeare’s language indicates that after the civil conflict, everybody was involved in great celebrations.
The language of war is balanced clearly with the language of pleasure. The great celebration indicates to the reader how the good overcame the evil i.e. the Tudors being good. This correspondence is indicated through; ” Our stern alarms chang’d to merry meetings” or ” Our dreadful marches to delightful measures”. These contrasts indicate to the reader how one wartime use is being changed to a celebration indicating the idea of peace, stability and national unity. With, “Our Stern alarms chang’d to merry meetings” indicates through the alliteration of the ‘m’ how much partying is taking place. Moreover, “Our dreadful marches to delightful measures”; this balance is further enhanced through the double vowel sound with the ‘d’ and the ‘m’. This further enhances the use of national unity and collaboration.
In the opening soliloquy, Richard uses personification of winter to exemplify war and the discontent of people. His metaphor for peacetime is ‘glorious summer.’ These uses of seasonal metaphors are used to create contrasting ideas of war and peace. Richard’s decision to be a bad is conveyed clearly, in his simple line; “I am determined to be a villain”. From lines 10 to 14, Shakespeare uses various metaphors for love making and dancing and describes Edward IV as having an unrestrained appetite for sex. Yet, through all this bitterness he clearly describes his deformities; “Deform’d unfinished sent before my time”. He indicates to the reader how there is nothing for him to do but to look at his deformities; “Have no delight but to pass away the time”.
The reader feels obliged to feel sorry for Richard as he suggests that nobody would love him yet he wants not just the pity of the audience but to entertain them and himself, telling them how he is not a victim but a villain to “entertain these fair well spoken days”. Richard’s deformities obviously cause him pain, as he describes to the reader ‘sportive tricks’ in which he is unable to advance. As during this period people were celebrating due to the post of the civil crisis, yet he is unable to perform these ‘rituals’ and he feels an outcast of which the audience feels they can relate to.
Richards’s resentfulness and enviousness towards Edward is clearly indicated in lines 10-13. He refers to Edward as “he”, describing him as “wanton” and “lustful”. Richard reveals this as a “weakness”. These lines unbalance the view of social legitimacy-how if anyone challenged or sought to change his or her place they would be defying God. Richard describes his relationship with Edward in more detail in lines 31-36. In these lines he indicates to the reader how “naive” and “simple” Edward is contrasting to himself as “false and “subtle”.
Richard indicates to the reader his “greed” and his ever flourishing yearn for power indicating to the reader that these would be the good ingredients need for a good king which Edward clearly lacks. Richards’s manipulative skills are shown widely in lines 30-42. In these consecutive lines, Richard shows his treacherous and deceitful behaviour in which he is able to switch on and off. This opaque behaviour enhances his complex character and illustrates his ability to be a good actor.