Tag Archives: richard III

Would it be: A poem for Richard

Would it be that I be loved by she

Who gave me life and breathe

Would it be that I be treated kindly

By he who is called my brother

Then would I be contented

 

Would it be that the power giver

Had given enough for those who have it

None would seek to step on the neck

Of those whose loftiness hinder

Then would I be contented

 

Would it be that my form was perfect

Free from spot or deformity

Dogs would not bark with tails curled under

And small children would not flee

Then would I be contented

 

Would it be that words harmed not

The heart where sword doth not pierce

Then would I stand straight and strong

And face the battle e’er so fierce

Then would I die contented.

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Richard III. Evil: Inherent or learned?

One of the questions that arose for me when seeing the Peter Evans production of Richard III was: Was Richard inherently evil or is it learned behaviour?

Richard was party to the killing of his father, his  two brothers, his nephews and others. He lusted after his brothers wife even before his brother was dead. He plotted, schemed, undermined authority until he had achieved his life goal; becoming King.

There is no doubt that in this production, Richard was indeed an evil person.However, do we just look at the final product, or do we look at what makes an evil person.

Richard was hated by most people even from birth:

Queen Margaret in Act 4, Scene 4.
“Then forth the kennel of thy womb hath crept
A hellhound that doth hunt us all to death—
That dog, that had his teeth before his eyes,
To worry lambs and lap their gentle blood;
That excellent grand tyrant of the earth,
That reigns in gallèd eyes of weeping souls;
That foul defacer of God’s handiwork
Thy womb let loose to chase us to our graves.
O upright, just, and true-disposing God,
How do I thank thee that this carnal cur
Preys on the issue of his mother’s body
And makes her pew-fellow with others’ moan!”
Queen Margaret somewhat blames Richard’s mother for giving birth to him. Others throughout the play refer to him as a dog, a toad and worse. His own mother speaks ill of him.
Lady Anne calls him a foul devil, a lump of foul deformity. She called him foul of heart and wishes he kill himself. Anne says he is unfit for any place but hell. She calls him a foul toad and begs him to leave as seeing him infects her eyes. Act 1 Scene 2
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Picture Credit: Prudence Upton, The Guardian.

His initial speech in Act 1 Scene 1 tells me something of the character of Richard.
“And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villian,
And hater the idle pleasures of these days”….. Lines 28-31
and again
“And if King Edward be as true and just
As I am subtle, false and treacherous”….Line 36-37
He has become evil due to his malformation, due to his being hated by a nation, including his own mother.
“I, that am rudely stamp’d and want love’s majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtail’d of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deform’d, unfinish’d, sent before my time
Into this breathing world scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them”
According to Shakespeare, Richard III was a despicable creature that was ill formed and totally disliked. Richard had tried to win the love of his family, he wanted to be loved. He wanted to win a maiden’s heart but none would have him.
While  I do not agree with his decision to become evil, nor the actions that prove that he genuinely is, I feel empathy toward him. I can understand that if he cannot win the love of the ones he loves, then he is forced to hate… as much as they do.
The difference between Richard, and others of us in society rejected and hated by family, is that Richard chose the route of evil and treachery. I chose the route of ignoring what others say by doing good and achieving unexpected milestones. I don’t hate those who have rejected me, I am upset that those whom I thought were close are not here to share the journey.
Sometimes water proves thicker than blood.
Dave

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Filed under Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature