Free Richard III Essays: The Seduction of Lady Anne


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Richard III and The Seduction of Lady Anne

 

Richard, Duke of Gloucester, is a great seducer.  However, it is easier when the seducee is rather frail in mind and heart, as I believe was the case with Lady Anne.  Perhaps Lady Anne's ego was as much engaged as her anger was initially.  Gloucester chips away at her resolve masterfully, but let's look at the facts.  She knows that Gloucester killed her husband and her father-in-law.  This fact is undisputed (within the play).  Gloucester admits both murders to her saying, "[y]our beauty was the cause of that effect [the murders]" (I.ii.121).  Her father-in-law's corpse is lying just feet away.  Yet in under two hundred lines, Anne goes from calling him a "black magician" and "foul devil" to accepting his ring (I.ii.34; I.ii.50).

 

            This is quite a turnaround.  She could have walked away but she was more intrigued or flattered than angered or humiliated.  Richard uses flattery to woo her.  He repeatedly tells her that he killed her husband and father-in-law to be able to "spend one hour in [her] sweet bosom" (I.ii.124).  Gloucester goes on to tell her that "He lives, that loves thee better than he [Edward] could" (I.ii.141), meaning that Gloucester loves her better than her husband did.  After she spits on him, he calls it (the spit), "poison from so sweet a place" (I.ii.146).  Gloucester is unrelenting in his flatteries and she does not walk away. 

 

            The most remarkable portion of this scene is when Gloucester bares his chest and hands his sword over to Anne to kill him and asks her to end his pain if she won't have him.  She starts for him with the sword, but drops it when he tells her that "twas thy heavenly face that set me on [to kill her husband]" (I.ii.182).  He then offers to turn the sword on himself.  Within a few seconds, she goes from raising his own sword to him, to weakly replying, "I would I knew thy heart" (I.ii.192).  She still questions his motives, but Gloucester has clearly already won her and slips a ring on her finger.

 

            It is little wonder that Gloucester brags to himself of this conquest.  Her father-in-law's corpse is barely cold and she has accepted Gloucester as her next husband.

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  There are no more scenes of wooing.  Gloucester has her all wrapped up and they marry without any fanfare.  Only after the wedding do we hear her moping about never sleeping well at his side.  Of course, when  sleeping with the devil  you are bound to get a bit burned.

 

Work Cited

 

Shakespeare, William.  "The Tragedy of Richard the Third."  The Riverside Shakespeare.  Ed. G. Blakemore Evans, et al.  2nd ed.  New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.  752-794

 


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