The opening statements made by Richard were quite shocking but at the same time refreshing. He openly admits to being the evil villain that we should hate throughout the play. He gives his motives clearly, stating that he has no choice but to be evil because he was born so hideous. His murderous ambitions allow him to match his ugly exterior in a twisted sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.
“I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them” (1.1.18-23)
His description of himself is completely self-loathing and pathetic enough that it allowed me to feel a certain amount of pity, until I read to the point where he plots murder on two of his brothers and openly admits to murdering Lady Anne’s husband and his father to her face. Richard’s main goal is to be king and within the first act he makes it painfully clear that he will literally kill everyone he needs to in order to achieve what he wants.
I found the easy acceptance that Lady Anne has of Richard’s homicidal admissions to be extremely odd. She badgers him mercilessly until he admits to murdering her husband but once he finally does give her the confession she wants, Anne seemingly backs off and allows him to state his reasons for murdering her husband which gives him the perfect opportunity to flatter her to the point of nausea. The worst part for me was that Anne actually seemed to believe what he said. Anne’s changing opinion of Richard characterizes her as a weak woman who will easily fall into Richard’s trap because of the over-the-top flattering he constantly throws at her. I had high hopes in the beginning of the interaction between Anne and Richard because of the outright way in which she insulted him and accused him of his wicked ways but she quickly disappointed me by actually believing that,
“My manly eyes did scorn an humble tear;
And what these sorrows could not thence exhale
Thy beauty hath, and made them blind with weeping” (1.2.169-171).
She falls for his insistence that he wants to take care of the burial of Edward and she believes that he is sincere in actually feeling remorse for his actions, when he makes it clear that he would supposedly kill someone for something as vain as beauty.