Both William Shakespeare’s play “Richard III” and Al Pacino’s docudrama “Looking for Richard” explore the timeless themes of Richards’s pursuit of power and the impacts of his villainous and evil nature. Shakespeare’s Elizabethan context is far different from the humanist and secular context of Pacino. Shakespeare highlights the importance of the church and the divine right to rule of monarchs within Richards’s pursuit of power and downfall; this is not relevant within Pacino’s contemporary times. Hence Pacino employs this key theme to reframe the play's focus from divine rule to political power whilst still exploring Richards’s achievement of this power. Through his portrayal of King Richard, Shakespeare creates a character meant to be hated by his audience who were familiar with the Tudor myth.
Upon Richard's return to England, he learns of the events that had transpired in his absence. At first his own arrogance allows him to believe that since it is his God given right to rule as King, he will be protected. But then just as quickly, Richard's arrogance turns into despair upon the realization that Henry has gained support of the nobles and the people of England. Henry and Richard finally meet at Ramparts Castle leading to the climax of the play. Henry demands retribution for the allocation of his families' possessions and
Richard, the main character of the Shakespeare’s play, Richard III is portrayed as socially destructive and politically over-ambitious. His destructive potential is depicted by the way he relates with the other protagonists in the play and also by what he confesses as his intentions.
A successful monarchy relies upon a stable leader who is concerned with the satisfaction of those he rules over. Henry Bolingbroke the IV in Shakespeare's Henry the IV Part I follows a trend set by his predecessor in Richard II of self-indulgence and neglect of his kingdom. These leaders worry about the possibility of losing their kingdom or their soldiers to other nobles who were also concerned more with obtaining a higher position rather than governing. The king must also be wary of his own life, something that was once revered and guarded closely by other nobles. Wars once fought for gaining or protecting land are overshadowed by personal battles fighting for the position of king.
William Shakespeare’s Richard III is a historical play that focuses on one of his most famous and complex villainous characters. Richard III or The Duke of Gloucester, who eventually becomes king, is ambitious, bitter, ugly and deformed. He manipulates and murders his way to the throne and sets the tone for the whole play with his very first speech, which is the opening of the play.
According to many, Shakespeare intentionally portrays Richard III in ways that would have the world hail him as the ultimate Machiavel. This build up only serves to further the dramatic irony when Richard falls from his throne. The nature of Richard's character is key to discovering the commentary Shakespeare is delivering on the nature of tyrants. By setting up Richard to be seen as the ultimate Machiavel, only to have him utterly destroyed, Shakespeare makes a dramatic commentary on the frailty of tyranny and such men as would aspire to tyrannical rule.
* Shakespeare shows the journey in Richard III of Richard himself on his dark quest to becoming king by both using his literary skills and performance to attain what he wants, ultimately being power.
Richard’s aspiration for power caused him to sacrifice his morals and loyalties in order to gain the throne of England. Shakespeare refers to the political instability of England, which is evident through the War of the Roses between the Yorks and Lancastrians fighting for the right to rule. In order to educate and entertain the audience of the instability of politics, Shakespeare poses Richard as a caricature of the Vice who is willing to do anything to get what he wants. As a result, the plans Richard executed were unethical, but done with pride and cunningness. Additionally, his physically crippled figure that was, “so lamely and unfashionable, that dogs bark at me as I halt by them,” reflects the deformity and corruption of his soul. The constant fauna imagery of Richard as the boar reflected his greedy nature and emphasises that he has lost his sense of humanity.
The question that Shakespeare raises throughout the series of Henry IV, Part I, Henry IV, Part II, and Henry V is that of whether Prince Hal (eventually King Henry V), is a true manifestation of an ideal ruler, and whether he is a rightful heir to his father’s ill-begotten throne. England is without a true king, being run by a ruler without the right of divine providence on his side– altogether, a very difficult situation for a young, inexperienced, and slightly delinquent Prince to take on. The task of proving himself a reliable Prince and a concerned ruler is of utmost importance to Hal, as he does not enjoy the mantle of divine right– perhaps by being an excellent ruler, Hal can make up for the
This gives Hal a constant sense of inaptness. Knowing that his father thinks low of him drives him more towards Falstaff who praises him at all times, giving him the support he needs at such age. Hal’s disobedience is partly a stubborn reaction to his father’s criticism and partly a rebellion that is natural in his age. On the other hand, King Henry IV is haunted by a sense of guilt that is translated to a feeling of suspicion towards his own son. The source of this guilt is his usurping of the throne and, in a way or another, being a participant in the killing of Richard II, if not by giving the orders at least by turning a blind eye to it. King Henry IV unconsciously harbors a belief that God will punish him for doing this through his son. He expects that it will either be the fall of Hal when he succeeds him or Hal overthrowing him and taking over the throne. However, both options lead the king to treat his son with caution. An example of this is his fury when he wakes up to find that his crown is missing and thinking that his son wishes his death to become the king.
William Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1, composed during the last years of the 16th century, is as much as character study as it is a retelling of a moment in history. Though the play is titled for one king, it truly seems to revolve around the actions of the titular character's successor. Indeed, Henry IV is a story of the coming-of-age of Prince Hal and of the opposition that he must face in this evolution. This process gives narrative velocity to what is essentially a conflagration between two personality types. In Prince Hal, the audience is given a flawed but thoughtful individual. Equally flawed but more given over to action than thought is his former ally and now-nemesis, Hotspur. In the latter, Shakespeare offers a warrior and a man of action and in the former, the playwright shows a politician in his nascent stages of development. The contrast between them will drive the play's action.
A defining feature between these two men’s fate is Richard’s dependence on good fortune through divine intervention, whereas Henry and Machiavelli rely on free will, what they themselves can do to manipulate the situation. Richard calls upon God to defend him, thinking that he can manipulate God’s will to fit his desires, “angels fight, weak men must fall, for heaven still guards the right” (III.ii pg 409) This idea of unearthly abilities that allow him to manipulate nature itself, even England is stupid and shows how incompetent he is. Compared to Henry in this play, he is someone who wants to serve England, not how England can serve them; in other words what you can do for your country. Machiavelli states that “so long as fortune varies, and men stand still, they will prosper while they suit the times, and fail when they do not”, Richard in all ways fills this statement, his reliance on fortune seals his fate in the end (Machiavelli 148). Shakespeare shows this antiquated idea to show how much England needed a change of leadership and rule, the end of medievalism and the rise of Machiavellianism.