Heroes And Villains In Shakespeare's Richard III

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Heroes and villains, protagonists and antagonists, princesses and paupers: tales as old as time. The duality of a morally good character opposing a wickedly evil character is the hallmark of most forms of literature. However, Richard III defies these conventions with its protagonist identifying both as a victim and villain in his own right. Richard envelops both characterizations which results in an internal power struggle. Additionally, Richard entraps the audience into his schemes and deludes their systems of knowledge as well. In Shakespeare’s Richard III, Richard employs manipulative techniques in order to garner a sympathetic response from the audience, ultimately proving the importance of perception in society. Undoubtedly, physical…show more content…
This is evidenced further in Richard’s soliloquy when he disparagingly says, “But I, that am not shap’d for sportive tricks, Nor made to court an amorous looking glass; I, that am rudely stamp’d” (I.i.14-16). The shift from ‘Our’ to ‘I’ emphasizes Richard’s isolation and affirms his vulnerable characterization. Richard also garners sympathy from the audience by enlisting them as his accomplices or allies for his future crimes. The audience inevitably becomes invested in Richard’s journey and can identify with his hunger for power. Admittedly, there is a shift in the audience’s perception of Richard as the play develops and his actions come to fruition. However, Richard’s interactions with the audience thus far remain unreliable and therefore there are minimal concrete judgements made about his morality and role as a protagonist. After being paralyzed by fear and guilt due to the ghosts’ visit, Richard reveals, “O no, alas, I rather hate myself. For hateful deeds committed by myself. I am a villain.” (V.iii.188-190). The presence of supernatural forces represents Richard’s internal turmoil and the subsequent projection of his guilt. Richard successfully accomplishes his exact objective of proving himself a villain, yet he remains unhappy and remorseful of his actions. This further engages

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