Richard III is a play written by Shakespeare, detailing a man’s journey on his way to gaining the throne, and ultimately his death. Richard’s rise to power can be attributed to several different factors, and while his achievements owe a great deal to his use of language, other reasons can also be considered. This essay aims to identify and analyse the ways in which he gains his success. Richard himself is a disfigured man, and while Shakespeare doesn’t state exactly how deformed the man is, it’s certainly enough for him to be looked down upon by others.
Yet he still manages to marry Lady Anne, even though he openly admits he killed her father in law and her husband in battle. How does he manage to do this? Through a mixture of his spectacular use of language and acting skills, he manages to woo Anne to his side, and she eventually agrees to marry him. In act 1, Richard and Anne exchange words rapid (stichomythia). This speech between them shows the different techniques Richard employs, such as repetition and antithesis. Anne: Oh, wonderful, when devils tell the truth!
Richard: More wonderful, when angels are so angry. While she speaks of hell and revenge against the murderer of her family, he responds by talking about heaven and forgiveness. His quick replies, turning her own words against her slowly break down her barriers and she eventually gives in. By flattering people using different techniques, such as antithesis and puns, Richard is able to convince and persuade people that he is someone who he is not. For example: the caring and loving brother; and the man who wishes to refuse the crown.
In this way, people do not suspect Richard, and those who do see through his facade, are powerless to do anything about it. There is also another use for Richard’s language, and that is to entertain. He seems to derive great pleasure from making witty and ironic replies, and it’s also noteworthy that some of his best and most spectacular language appears only in his soliloquies. However, this does not affect his rise to power, so will not be discussed further. But these language skills, while on their own are persuasive, are only enhanced by Richard’s acting skills.
In some ways, his acting may be even more important than Richard’s language, after all: a person would be more believable if he was acting the part effectively, even if his language was simple. For example, in Act 3, Buckingham instructs Richard to carry a prayer book when he meets the mayor, to make him appear saintly and pious. Richard goes on to tell the assembled people that he doesn’t wish to be King, of course, this is all an act, Richard harbours a deep desire to become King, but, by acting as if he doesn’t wish to, it merely makes the Lord Mayor offer it to him more and more.
Richard is like a chameleon, constantly changing role to suit his own purposes-examples of this appear throughout the whole play. In act 3, when Richard’s nephew; Prince Edward, arrives in London, Richard acts out the role of a concerned uncle, who warns him against the danger of Edward’s other uncles. In fact, it is Richard who he should be wary of, since it was he who disposed of his own brothers.