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Glorifying The Tudor Dynasty: Shakespeare’s Richard Iii And The Perfect Villain

1203 words - 5 pages

Arts in England flourished and prospered during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Furthermore, “The Golden Age” was characterized by the Queen’s patronizing of theatre, which lead it to gain popularity among England. The sixteenth and early seventeenth century witnessed a period of English nationalism, evidently shown through diffused texts in the English language, rather than in Latin. Additionally, the Queen supported playwrights such as William Shakespeare, which lead to depictions of Elizabethan society in his plays. Consequently, influences from London and the royal family influenced plays such as Richard III. Specifically, the play affected the glorification of the Tudors, leading to the villanization of former king Richard III. This paper discusses and argues the effects of Elizabethan England on the plot, villain, and gender roles- all leading to the glorification of the Tudor dynasty.
Firstly, Niccollo Machiavelli’s influences on England during the Elizabethan Era transmit in the plot of the play. Machiavelli, an Italian politician, published Il Principe, which established guidelines on how a prince could get and secure his power. Machiavellian ideas diffused among the political elite of England during Elizabeth’s reign (“The Influence of Machiavelli on Shakespeare”). Consequently, Shakespeare adapted these influences to produce the character of King Richard III. The principal influence of Machiavelli on Shakespeare’s version of Richard is the Machiavellian concept of “the ends justify the means” (“The Influence of Machiavelli on Shakespeare”).
When Richard outlines his plans that will lead him to the throne of the kingdom, Shakespeare shows the influence of this concept because he shows willingness to do anything in order to get the throne. The character exclaims, “Plots I have laid, inductions dangerous, by drunken prophecies, libels and dreams” (Act.1). As a result, this characterization is tied to Machiavelli’s influence in Elizabethan era because his writings encouraged the quest and obtaining of power. Additionally, Machiavelli’s influence in Shakespeare stems from
“A man who wants to act virtuously in every way necessarily comes to grief among so many who are not virtuous. Therefore if a prince wants to maintain his rule, he must be prepared not to be virtuous, and to make use of this or not according to need” (“The Influence of Machiavelli on Shakespeare”).
Shakespeare adapts these tenants to construct a power thirsty character. Consequently, while the London elite was introduced to these ideals, Shakespeare shaped the overall plot of the play to exemplify the discussed the power quest introduced by Machiavelli. This results in Richard’s actions that lead him to kill his brother and manipulate his family into getting the throne.
Additionally, the plot of the play portrays a turning point for English history, the rise of the Tudor dynasty. In combination with Machiavelli’s tenants, the fact that Elizabeth was the patron of...

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