Monday, October 22, 2012

Language as Richard's Weapon

In many literary works, language can be very important. In Richard III, I believe language can be considered Richard's weapon or tool in getting ahead. The very first person to speak in the play is Richard, and he opens with quite the speech. He begins by giving some information about his family’s recent victory. More interestingly, though, is what he talks about toward the end of the speech. He tells of how he was cheated out of a pleasant looking body and face. He calls himself “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” (Shakespeare 20-23).  He goes on to say, “since I cannot prove a lover to entertain these fair well-spoken days, I am determined to prove a villain and hate the idle pleasures of these days” (28-31).His bad looks are his excuse for becoming a villain and setting dangerous and villainous plans in motion.

To make up for his lack of good-looks, Richard seems to use his language to get what he wants. He has a way with words that allows him to manipulate and control those around him.  His way of hurting those around him and creating problems is by using his skill with words to trick and lie. The best place to examine this happen within Act One is definitely Richard’s dialogue with Lady Anne.  At the end of Scene One, Richard has another speech. Toward the end of it, he says that he will marry Lady Anne, even though he is responsible for the death of her husband and his father (154-155). He states that there is no better way to make amends than to become those things for her (156-157). He goes on to state that he will not do this for love, but because there is something for him to get out of it (158-160). In Scene Two, Lady Anne is obviously extremely angry over the death of her husband and father in law. Her anger comes out in every word she speaks.  She is especially angry with Richard for being responsible. She states, “More direful hap betide that hated wretch that makes us wretched by the death of thee than I can wish to wolves, to spiders, toads, or any creeping venomed thing that lives. If ever he have child, abortive be it, prodigious, and untimely brought to light, whose ugly and unnatural aspect may fright the hopeful mother at the view, and that be heir to his unhappiness” (18-26). When Richard comes into the scene and begins to speak with her, she initially expresses all of her hatred of him. She does not hold back. By the end though, something I thought unexpected begins to happen. She seems to tone down the anger and actually may even be somewhat wooed by Richard. Even with all of the terrible feelings she had toward him, his skill with words somehow manipulates her and turns her against herself. Richard’s use of language, even where he is not sincere,  gets him very far in this scene for he is able to persuade even the one person who despised him so. 

I am very curious to see how Richard's word play and use of language will influence the rest of the play.

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