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Richard III by William Shakespeare Essay

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Written during a time of peace immediately following the conclusion of the War of the Roses between the Yorks and the Lancasters, William Shakespeare’s play Richard III showcases a multi-faceted master of linguistic eloquence, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, a character who simultaneously manages to be droll, revolting, deadly, yet fascinating. Richard's villainy works in a keen, detestable manner, manifesting itself in his specific use or, rather, abuse of rhetoric. He spends a substantial amount of time directly interacting and therefore breaking the fourth wall and orating to the audience in order to forge a relationship with them, to make members not only his confidants of murderous intentions, but also his accomplices and powerless, unwilling cohorts to his wrongdoings. Through the reader’s exploration of stylistic and rhetorical stratagem in the opening and final soliloquies delivered by Richard, readers are able to identify numerous devices which provide for a dramatic effect that make evident the psychological deterioration and progression of Richard as a character and villain.
At the very outset of the play, readers are presented with the power-hungry, self-loathing Duke of Gloucester, defined by his thirst for vengeance and power and by his uncanny ability to manipulate the minds of the people around him. Richard appeals to the audience’s sympathies in his self-deprecating description, when he declares that he is deformed, unfinished, and so hideous and unfashionable that dogs bark at him as he passes by. The imagery he utilizes throughout the opening soliloquy also evokes a feeling of opposition and juxtaposition which speaks to the duality of his nature.The juxtapositions he employs are more than rhetorical devices, as ...


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...is character and with the crumbling of a façade built up to deceive.
Perhaps these two soliloquies serve as parenthetical representations, encompassing the scope of the real Richard. The real Richard is evident at the conclusion of the play, simply masked by the Richard who had the quest before him to become the self he yearned to be, self respected and revered by all. This realization can be achieved through the analysis of the various rhetorical and dramatic elements especially prevalent in the words themselves within the initial and concluding soliloquies delivered by Richard as well as from the analysis of the context of the events occurring at the time the asides were delivered.




Works Cited

Bloom, Harold. Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human. New York. Riverhead Books, 1998.
Shakespeare, William. Richard III. New York. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2009.


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Richard III by William Shakespeare Essay - Written during a time of peace immediately following the conclusion of the War of the Roses between the Yorks and the Lancasters, William Shakespeare’s play Richard III showcases a multi-faceted master of linguistic eloquence, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, a character who simultaneously manages to be droll, revolting, deadly, yet fascinating. Richard's villainy works in a keen, detestable manner, manifesting itself in his specific use or, rather, abuse of rhetoric. He spends a substantial amount of time directly interacting and therefore breaking the fourth wall and orating to the audience in order to forge a relationship with them, to make members not only his confidants of murderous intenti...   [tags: richard, Duke of Gloucester]
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