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

1015 words - 5 pages

The reign of Queen Elizabeth I was one of prosperous activity for the arts in England. This period is known as the “Golden Age” and English nationalism gained momentum, as evidently shown through writers creating their works in the English language. Furthermore, the Queen had a passion for the arts, and thus encouraged and patronized activities such as the creation of theaters. Overall, London became a cultural center and in which the arts flourished under the Queen. Playwrights ,such as William Shakespeare, were enthusiastic about this embrace of the arts and were encouraged to depict characteristics of Elizabethan society. Consequently, influences from the main cultural center encouraged ...view middle of the document...

Additionally, the plot of the play portrays a turning point for English history, the rise of the Tudor dynasty. In combination with Machiavelli, the fact that Elizabeth was the patron of the arts also influenced Shakespeare’s piece. The writer courts the Queen with the twisted characterization of Richard and the rise of Henry VII. Richmond exclaims, “God and your arms be praised, victorious friends, the day is ours, the bloody dog is dead” (201). Here, Shakespeare’s clearly presents the death of Richard III as a victory for the successors while dehumanizing the king by calling him dog. In the history of England, the power struggle between the ruling families is not a new theme for the writer. However, by portraying this case as a horrid example of a current reality, Shakespeare is appealing to the Queen. When Henry kills Richard, his actions are exalted while Richard is defeated. Consequently, the Tudors are also exalted and Queen Elizabeth’s reign is seen as more prosperous as it is. The overall plot of the play seeks to legitimize Elizabeth’s rule by portraying the Tudors as heroes who saved the monarchy from a power driven king.
Furthermore, this characterization of Richard III as a villain was enhanced by London during the Elizabethan era. Shakespeare’s play is not meant to be a biographical narration of Richard III but a dramatic representation of the rise of the Tudor dynasty. Additionally, he bases his character on Thomas More’s History of King Richard III. Many controversies surround the content of this particular work and Dorothea Pries discusses how Richard III is portrayed as “an evil, tyrannical king” (Preis). Shakespeare adapts this image of Richard III and furthers the horridness of this character through the depiction of events that lead to his rise and downfall. Also, the play emphasizes the ugliness of the character’s physical appearance and portrays his actions as if no one before him had performed similar actions. In combination with Machiavelli and his homage to the Queen, Shakespeare achieves to create a villain out of Richard III while legitimizing the...

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