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Comparison Of King Richard Iii And Looking For Richard

1603 words - 6 pages

Composers throughout various zeitgeists are linked by different representations of universal human concerns, and their texts simultaneously embody certain values and agendas individual to themselves. An exploration of Shakespeare’s King Richard III (1592) and Al Pacino’s Looking for Richard (1996) allows for a greater understanding of the composer’s respective contexts, along with their intended agendas, through the lens of their own societal values and concerns. The manipulation of Richard III’s persona, whether by authorial adaptation of historical sources related to his character, or through the differing views of Richards motives, are universal concepts, that when studied in relation to the differing time periods, accentuates the context and our understanding of recurrent aspects of the human experience.

Shakespeare constructs King Richard III to perform his contextual agenda, or to perpetrate political propaganda in the light of a historical power struggle, mirroring the political concerns of his era through his adaptation and selection of source material. Shakespeare’s influences include Thomas More’s The History of King Richard the Third, both constructing a certain historical perspective of the play. The negative perspective of Richard III’s character is a perpetuation of established Tudor history, where Vergil constructed a history intermixed with Tudor history, and More’s connection to John Morton affected the villainous image of the tyrannous king. This negative image is accentuated through the antithesis of Richards treachery in juxtaposition of Richmond’s devotion, exemplified in the parallelism of ‘God and Saint George! Richmond and victory.’ The need to legitimize Elizabeth’s reign influenced Shakespeare’s portrayal of Richard III as a means of propaganda. Shakespeare depicts Richards’s duplicity through his soliloquies and asides, as they reveal his multifaceted and deceptive nature. Due to Richard’s oratory skills, he is ultimately cast as the Machiavellian character from the outset of the play. Richard puts the blame on his deformed appearance, and uses it as an excuse to be hungry for power. An insatiable thirst for power is Richard’s hamartia as a Vice character, and at some points his character is portrayed only by his actions to take the throne, and the audience of that time would’ve seen this as an abhorrent transgression against the divine order. Richards soliloquies are central to Shakespeares portrayal of him in the play, as Richard tended too ‘moralise two meanings in one word’, and display Richards tenacity to do anything for power. The evocative beastial imagery in describing Richard as a ‘rooting hog’ and ‘poisonous hunchback’d toad’, reflects the play’s propagandist nature, and in conjunction with divine imagery, with Richard being the foul devil, juxtaposed against the God-fearing Lady Anne. The perpetuation of the Tudor myth, through Shakespeare’s iniquitous characterization of Richard, reflects the...

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