We learn that Anne is dead and in Act 4 Scene 4 we see Richard asking Elizabeth for help in wooing her daughter. After a long confrontation. Elizabeth appears to agree with the plan. However, it is here we see the beginning of his loss of control over people. ‘ ELIZABETH: Shall I go win my daughter to thy will? RICHARD: And be happy mother by thy deed. ELIZABETH: I go. Write to me very shortly, And you shall understand from me her mind. RICHARD: Bear her my true love’s kiss, and so farewell Exit Q[ueen Elizabeth] Relenting fool and shallow, changing women’
Here we see that Elizabeth has lulled Richard into thinking that she fully intends her daughter to be wed. We see this by Richard’s last exclamation that he thinks he has manipulated her, whereas the truth is that Elizabeth has manipulated him into thinking he is to be married, when, secretly, Elizabeth has no intention for her daughter to be married to Richard. This is the start of Richard’s downfall until he is finally killed by Richmond in the battle of Bosworth in Act 5 Scene 5. However, before his death we see his battle with his conscience and is victimised by it because of all the deaths he has caused.
The repetition of the phrase ‘despair and die’ predicts the death of Richard, whilst the ghosts promote Richmond’s succession as king. As ‘Richard III’ was written as propaganda for the Tudor dynasty, it is probable that Richard’s character was overemphasized and his deformity exaggerated to increase the superiority of their reign. Examples of Shakespeare’s magnification of Richard’s deformity include the animalistic metaphors such as: ‘boar’ ‘bunch backed toad’ and ‘tiger’ used to describe him. These are used to turn the audience against Richard, as they get more potent as we follow him through the play.
Throughout the play Richard shows many characteristics that would make people believe he is either a ‘bloody tyrant and a homicide’ or ‘a man of great and diverse gifts’. However, from the events that have been studied I have concluded that he is both. Richard is clearly a ‘bloody tyrant and a homicide’, like many other major historical figures such as Hitler or Stalin, he had a plan for complete power. Although, to achieve this there must be no opposition. Much like in Stalin’s Great Terror where he killed anybody who he thought could pose a threat, Richard killed anybody who would challenge his accession to the throne.
Although, a tyrant this was unusual for the times, both Richard’s predecessors and successors were tyrannical rulers. However, for Richard to do this involved planning and care. Richard used his gifts of crafty rhetoric and manipulation. Richard is able to encourage confidence in others around him, without letting them know they are destined for death at his hands. We must also sympathise with Richard in the play because we know ‘Richard III’ was written as Tudor propaganda and so his deformity and character would have been hugely overemphasized to make the Tudor’s rule seem superior.
In conclusion, Richard is both a ‘bloody tyrant and a homicide’ and ‘a man of great and diverse gifts’. Without these gifts he would never have been able to gain access to the throne because he would have been stopped before he had a chance. With his gifts he was able to create a smoke screen, with which he was able cover his tracks until he was able to reach the throne.