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The Tragedy of King Richard III

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					The Tragedy of King Richard III

        Scholarly Survey
Introducing the Family
Richard III

      • From a 15th century
        portrait, retouched in
        the 19th century but
        believed to be an
        authentic
        representation of
        Richard (Wikipedia).
       Major Scholarly Themes
• Historical
   – Relations between Shakespeare‘s Richard III and the
     creation of popular history.
• Literary Comparisons
   – Comparisons on the structure of Richard III to other
     literary works: Seneca, Machiavelli, even Romeo and
     Juliette.
• Theme Analysis
   – The relation between sovereignty and God.
   – Fratricide and chaos.
   – Children and suffering.
Historical
   Richard III, Shakespeare, and
                History
• Citation:
  – Susan E. Leas. The English Journal, Vol. 60,
    No. 9 (Dec., 1971), pp. 1214-1216+1296
• Themes:
  – Play written to blacken the name of the
    historical Richard III.
  – The play is historically inaccurate.
  – The real Henry Tudor was no rose.
   Richard III, Shakespeare, and
                History
• Tarnishing the name of the real Richard III:

  – ―This dynasty succeeded Richard‘s
    Plantegenet dynasty, and therefore one of the
    chief motives for writing ―history‖ in this age
    would be to blacken the name of the king
    whose throne they had usurped.
    Shakespeare has preserved this biased
    version of the facts (1214).‖
    Richard III, Shakespeare, and
                 History
• Historical inaccuracies:

  – ―Yet largely because of the popularity of
    Shakespeare‘s work, the real Richard III has the
    reputation of a murderer hideously deformed both in
    body and soul…this view is manifestly unfair (1215).‖

  – ―Many theories have been proposed to account for
    the disappearance of Edward IV‘s sons…[however it
    is fact that] their uncle Richard kept them in seclusion
    in the Tower of London where…they were seen for
    several months after his coronation.‖
   Richard III, Shakespeare, and
                History
• On Henry Tudor:

  – ―The real Henry Tudor, in contrast…was not quite the
    pure and holy deliverer born to unite white rose and
    the red (1216).‖

  – ―Does it matter? Of course it does…[the work] should
    be read critically with an awareness that historians
    and men of literature are human beings who write
    from a personal bias...‖
A Selective and Critical Bibliography of
  Shakespeare‘s Richard III: 1945 to
                1980
• Citation:
   – Moore, James Alton. Diss. Oklahoma State
     University: AAT 8300169.

• Themes:
   – The most influential scholarly work is E. M. W.
     Tillyard‘s formulation of the Tudor myth—Richard III is
     an instrument of God‘s punishment on earth for the
     unlawful deposing of the anointed King Richard II in
     1399.
A Selective and Critical Bibliography of
  Shakespeare‘s Richard III: 1945 to
                1980
• E.M. W. Tillyard‘s formulation:

  – ―…[the] Tudor Myth…a scheme of orthodox political
    and religious doctrine promoted by the Tudor
    monarchs to justify their claim to the throne (1).‖

  – ―The hostile image of Richard III Shakespeare
    acquired ultimately from Polydore Vergil‘s Anglica
    Historia (1534) and Sir Thomas More‘s The History of
    King Richard III (1513). Vergil‘s work is unabashed
    Tudor propaganda, while More‘s has come to be
    viewed as a genuine work of art.‖
Literary Comparisons:

       Seneca
         Tradition and Originality in
         Shakespeare‘s Richard III

• Citation:
   – Wolfgang H. Clemen. Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 5,
     No. 3. (Summer, 1954), pp. 247-257.

• Themes:
   – Richard III is an early example of the fusion between
     tradition and originality—in Senecan tragedy and
     Shakespeare‘s inventiveness.
      • Senecan Tradition:
          – Curses, forebodings, and prophecies.
      • Shakespearian Originality:
          – Attention to detail, character development, and the passage of
            time.
        Tradition and Originality in
        Shakespeare‘s Richard III

• Fusion of tradition and originality:

  – ―Shakespeare‘s Richard III is—as far as I can
    see—the first play in which a successful
    attempt is being made at reconciling and
    fusing language of Senecan tragedy with that
    of the popular play (249).‖
       Tradition and Originality in
       Shakespeare‘s Richard III

• Senecan tradition:

  – ―Curses and forebodings belonged to the
    conventional apparatus of Senecan
    tragedy…their use in Richard III…[can] not be
    original in itself (251).‖
           Tradition and Originality in
           Shakespeare‘s Richard III

• Originality:

   – ―…unlike…almost all plays before Shakespeare…each
     motive…once it has been introduced, each minor
     character…and detail…is never lost sight of but taken up
     again…later…in connection with the major issue (249).‖

   – ―…mention should be made of Shakespeare's new and original
     treatment of time…frequent allusions to hours and
     days…creates the effect of a rapid passing of time…but also in
     his extraordinary condensation of time into a very few days. (The
     material in of the chronicle covered in fact ten years) (252).‖
A Selective and Critical Bibliography of
  Shakespeare‘s Richard III: 1945 to
                1980
• Citation:
  – Moore, James Alton. Diss. Oklahoma State
    University: AAT 8300169.

• Themes:
  – Also cites a link to Seneca.
A Selective and Critical Bibliography of
  Shakespeare‘s Richard III: 1945 to
                1980
• Quote:

  – ―Harold F. Brooks also finds a classical origin
    in Seneca‘s Troades for the unhistoric
    amplification of women in Richard III (13).”
Literary Comparisons:

      Machiavelli
A Selective and Critical Bibliography of
  Shakespeare‘s Richard III: 1945 to
                1980
• Citation:
  – Moore, James Alton. Diss. Oklahoma State
    University: AAT 8300169.

• Themes:
  – Shakespeare drew from many sources,
    including Machiavelli.
A Selective and Critical Bibliography of
  Shakespeare‘s Richard III: 1945 to
                1980
• Quote:

  – ―…many later critics such as John Jump base
    their studies of the history plays on the
    moderate premise that Shakespeare…freely
    utilized both the providential theory [of the
    Tudors‘] and the humanist concepts which
    derived from Machiavelli and Guicciardini...‖
 Shakespeare Quarterly: Shakespeare
          and Machiavelli
• Citation:
   – Strier, Richard. Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 55, No.
     4. (2004), pp. 480-483.

• Themes:
   – Review and critical response to John Roe‘s book
     Shakespeare and Machiavelli, which argues against
     most of Roe‘s assertions that there is a strong
     influence of Machiavelli‘s The Prince on Richard III
     and other Shakespeare works.
 Shakespeare Quarterly: Shakespeare
          and Machiavelli
• Quote:

  – ―this project can only be fruitful if [there
    is]…an illuminating take on both ‗the essence
    of Machiavelli‘s thought‘ and on
    Shakespeare‘s engagement with this…I am
    afraid that the book does not (481).‖
Literary Comparisons:

   Romeo and Juliette
      Richard the Third: A Study in
       Shakespeare Composition
• Citation:
  – Law, Robert Adger. PMLΛ, Vol. 60, No. 3.
    (Sep. 1945), pp. 689-696.

• Themes:
  – Argues that composition and structure of
    Richard III resembles that of Romeo and
    Juliette.
      Richard the Third: A Study in
       Shakespeare Composition
• Quote:

  – ―…we find Shakespeare in Richard III, just as
    in Romeo and Juliette, closely following the
    order of most of the incidents related in his
    source…most important, we see him here
    deliberately duplicating situations and actions
    (695)…‖
        Theme Analysis

Sovereignty & God, Fratricide & Chaos
A Selective and Critical Bibliography of
  Shakespeare‘s Richard III: 1945 to
                1980
• Citation:
  – Moore, James Alton. Diss. Oklahoma State
    University: AAT 8300169.

• Themes:
  – Questioning whether sovereignty should
    reside in men or in God.
  – Fratricide leads to innocent suffering and
    chaos.
A Selective and Critical Bibliography of
  Shakespeare‘s Richard III: 1945 to
                1980
• Sovereignty in man or God:

  – ―[Richard‘s actions] by its very nature
    alienates so many of the nobles that
    Richmond can come as God‘s ‗minister of
    chastisement‘ and fulfill the promise that the
    justice of heaven will in time suppress wrongs
    (14).‖
A Selective and Critical Bibliography of
  Shakespeare‘s Richard III: 1945 to
                1980
• Fratricide leads to chaos:

  – ―T. McCullen…[studied] the theme of the
    unnatural severing of brotherly bonds in
    Richard III. He finds that Shakespeare follows
    a precedent established by earlier Tudor
    drama in which fratricide leads to innocent
    suffering and social chaos (16).‖
Theme Analysis

Children and Suffering
         Children and Suffering in
          Shakespeare‘s Plays

• Citation:
  – Blake, Ann. The Yearbook of English Studies,
    Vol. 23, Early Shakespeare Special Number.
    (1993), pp. 293-304.

• Themes:
  – The murder of the princes in Richard III is the
    act which causes the audience condemnation
    of the character of Richard.
         Children and Suffering in
          Shakespeare‘s Plays

• Quote:

  – ―…the murder of the little princes…most
    clearly invites the audience to respond to
    Richard‘s actions as cruel for the first time in
    the play (297).‖
  Wrap-Up: Scholarly Themes
• The three most prevalent themes:

  – Historical
     • Tudor Propaganda
  – Literary Comparisons
     • Strong basis in Machiavelli.
  – Theme Analysis
     • The end of Richard III was brought about by divine
       retribution.
End