Richard as an Anti-hero:
To what extent does Richard embody this archetype?
In William Shakespeare’s play, Richard III, Richard is portrayed as physically deformed and psychologically affected. It is believed that his inner soul is a reflection of his physical deformities. Richard is considered as the protagonist of this play, however this is highly contradictive. A protagonist is the hero of the story who exhibits characteristics of courage and perseverance, and is admired for their brave deeds as well as their noble qualities. Richard however, contradicts the character portrayal of a hero and demonstrates himself as the exact opposite: an anti-hero. The play opens up with Richard’s, (Duke of Gloucester) soliloquy: “I am determined to prove a villain” (1.1.30). This enables the reader to recognize the antagonistic qualities that are embedded with the protagonist Richard. Shakespeare expresses the protagonist in a slightly different way compared to the normal. Richard exhibits not only villainous characteristics but he also use persuasion to manipulate others, rejects established values and traditions, and is rejected by society.
Although Richard’s physical appearance, does not allow him to impress others, his ability to persuade allows him to have an influence on individuals. A great example that demonstrates Richard’s ability to use his persuasive skills to manipulate people is expressed in Act I Scene II when Richard woos Anne. In this scene, Richard demonstrates perseverance and confidence, which are ideal characteristics of a protagonist, even though Anne calls him names and insults him. Although he is the guilty murderer he uses “language of forgiveness and Christian charity” (Pat Baldwin). Keep in mind that Richard killed both the father and husband of Lade Anne. Under these circumstances, he is still able to capture Anne’s heart. Richard says to Lady Anne: “Your beauty was the cause of the effect:
Your beauty, that did haunt me in my sleep
To undertake the death of all the world,
So I might live one hour in your sweet bosom” (1.2.126-129)
Richard takes a huge risk, handing Anne a knife and demanding she take away his life for he had murdered both her father and husband. He insists to her it is only fair that she take his life in response. Lady Anne rejects, falling for Richard’s trap for she accepts his proposal of love. Richard succeeds in manipulation. In the scene, Richard plays the role of a lover who will provide Anne with the emotional support she would need; especially after suffering two loses. By persuading and manipulating Lady Anne, Richard was able to get what he was really after; the power and a truce with the house of Lancaster. This method of persuasion and manipulation are the basic fundamentals that Richard uses on those he sees as useful in accomplishing his devilish deeds.
Family, loyalty, trust and marriage are some of the values and traditions that Richard ignores. “Richard acts like a caring brother (to...