Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Richard III

Richard III, by William Shakespeare

Richard III, as everyone already knows, is Shakespeare's most villainous villain, embracing evil and having people murdered left and right until he comes to a well-deserved end in battle.  And as a cartoon villain he's pretty great; he thinks of everything and tirelessly makes everything terrible for everyone around him, even his poor old mother.  He even tries to marry the older sister of the princes he had killed!

Evil Richard III
I really liked the prominent roles that the women played towards the end.  Possibly because there were no men left, having all been murdered by that time, but the ladies have these wonderful scenes where they lament their losses and blame Richard III for everything--just as he deserves.

I did find this play quite difficult to read, just because there are all these characters, all with titles that make it tricky to keep track of them, and anyway which Edward or Richard or Elizabeth are we talking about again?  I would very much like to watch a performance--I should have looked at the DVDs when I was at the library yesterday.

Only averagely awful Richard III
Having read The Daughter of Time and followed the surprise excavation of Richard's body last year, I'm pretty familiar with the historical background and reasons why Shakespeare made his character so mustache-twirlingly rotten.  Richmond, the glorious hero of the play and savior of all England, became King Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty and Queen Elizabeth's very own grandpa.  He was in fact an awful person, but then so was pretty much everyone else who clawed their way to a contested throne.  You don't get that kind of job without being pretty horrible.  I'm sure the real-life Richard III was awful too, even though he didn't really go around scheming in iambic pentameter.  

And my answer to The Question is, yeah, I totally think he had the princes bumped off, Josephine Tey's defense notwithstanding.


7 comments:

Sophia said...

I haven't read Richard III but have read other books dealing with him... I suppose I should read it sometime, but I haven't had much free time in January to indulge in the Shakespeare theme as much as I would have liked.

Oh, and I agree with you wholeheartedly on The Question! :-)

Sophia said...

I haven't read Richard III but have read other books dealing with him... I suppose I should read it sometime, but I haven't had much free time in January to indulge in the Shakespeare theme as much as I would have liked.

Oh, and I agree with you wholeheartedly on The Question! :-)

Nancy Leek said...

The library has a BBC production of Richard III which I thoroughly enjoyed. Much better than just reading it.

Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

As for movies, this play presents an opportunity. Have you seen Al Pacino's documentary "Looking for Richard"? I would actually go to that before any other adaptation. I wish Pacino had made one of those for every Elizabethan play.

Jean said...

OK, I'll get that library movie and look for the Pacino documentary. I've never heard of that at all--thanks Tom.

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

I don't think he had the kids bumped off BUT I do think his means of keeping little Edward off the throne were on the shady side. I am okay with it though because I think having a little kid as the king would have been a hot mess for England, and I can see how Richard III could reasonably feel he would do a better job at being the king than a bunch of Woodville relations.

...I may or may not own a framed print of that portrait of Richard III. WHO CAN SAY.

Jean said...

Jenny, you crack me up! I totally believe that you have a framed Richard III around the house. Your theory is also possible, I admit.