Sunday, October 21, 2012

Margaret, Margaret, Margaret!

I applaud Queen Margaret for her witty, nasty comments towards Richard.  He honestly deserves whatever may come his way for what he has done.  It is clear the Queen Margaret has EVERY reason to be this shrewd woman who just insults everyone after all, both her husband and son have been killed.  Margaret says, “Out, devil! I remember them too well./ Thou killed’st my husband Henry in the Tower,/ And Edward, my poor son, at Tewkesbury” (I.III.118-120) while referring to Richard of Gloucester before she reveals herself to other characters.  During the initial asides, at first I was really aggravated by Margaret mainly because she keeps saying she deserves the thrown, and she is angered by everyone who has increased their royalty levels.  I feel like she is that haggard old woman who is miserable with her life.  I don’t mean to sound bitter about this, I know how painful it is to lose someone close in your family, but she was just extremely bitter, not even really saddened by the death of her family members.  These asides do enlighten me as a reader as to the inner workings of Margaret’s mind.  On top of this, I also believe the Margaret is the character who represents some aspect of the truth.  We can see this all because she isn’t afraid to speak out to anyone.  She has the gift of knowledge because she knows what is actually going on.  She believes that Richard should go to Hell or at least that is where she will, she calls him a “villain” as well implying a “well-born peasant” but I think it also has a double meaning that he is the evil person of the play (I.III.162).  
There are some very crude comments from Margaret as she insults Richard and even Queen Elizabeth.  I assume this scene is supposed to be taken seriously for all characters when Margaret calls them “wrangling pirates” (I.III. 158)  or call Richard a “dog” or “elvish-marked, abortive, rooting hog” (I.III.225)  I can’t help but laugh.  As I read these words, although she is an angry bitter woman, these words are just seething with hatred towards the other characters.  I think Margaret is the character who really heightens the drama in the scene and I have a feeling that things are going to become very intense when it comes to the controversy of who should really be queen.
One thing that I was also interested in was when they called Queen Margaret crazy, like Dorset who says “Dispute not with her: she is lunatic” (I.III.252) immediately calling out her on the remarks she has said.   I do not see her being crazy in any way, even River’s questions, “why she’s at liberty” which is basically saying why is Margaret free and not locked up within the walls of a confined cell.  After she leaves, Richard steps in and wins the crowd over and apologizes for what he has done to her and basically says he has been the cause of some of her madness and people think he is “Christian-like” for his comment (I.III.214).  This final point simply outraged me while I was reading.  There is no way that someone could consider Margaret to be crazy after losing her son and husband and ability to be in power.  Richard makes me angry and I already see how sneaky he is and how much power he has over everyone else with his smooth talking.  Did Richard’s “apology” anger anyone else, and does anyone think Margaret is really crazy?  I certainly don’t think she is crazy.  I believe she just is struggling with many different issues in her life at this time and doesn’t have an outlet for her pain and anger.


Krystal Haight said...


I totally agree with you – Margaret is a fascinating character! She definitely heightens the intensity and drama of the play. Furthermore, even though I have never read Richard III, it is easy to guess that she is foreshadowing some events to come! I find it interesting that you believe she “represents some aspect of truth.” She does seem to have a gift of knowledge, and certainly does not hold back from sharing her opinions! Perhaps this is the reason why Dorset suggests that she is actually insane (as you note in your post). It is common for a character in literature to be deemed/labeled “insane” when he or she is all-knowing or wise. For instance, I am currently reading William Faulkner’s play, As I Lay Dying, in my American Literature II class, and one of the characters, Darl, effectively illustrates this point. He has an extraordinary ability to perceive reality and determine the truth of situations. However, due to this talent, his own family ends up fearing his perceptive, analytical nature. In the end, they declare him mad, and send him away to an asylum. I just thought it was an interesting comparison to make, especially since the two plays are from two totally different times. I think that it exhibits the fact that humans share universal emotions and characteristics.

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate the connection you made, Krystal, between Darl Bundren and Margaret, for I hadn't thought of it myself, even though I just read As I Lay Dying, too. Making that connection really shows how the characters in literature who are called "crazy" by the other characters really aren't insane but, rather, scorned due to their omniscient or clairvoyant properties. Mind you, I believe clairvoyance can be argued as potential insanity, especially if the character's prophecies do not come true, but that's not the case with Margaret. Her words are rendered with truth, for she knows the pain of losing loved ones, the impermanence of reigning as royalty, and the real nature of Richard. Although she is bitter, her curses are well-wrought, and they even foreshadow the play's later events—she knows exactly what she's saying to everyone. Also, it's interesting that she would be called crazy by Dorset, for in Shakespeare's works, craziness seems to be something that occurs internally, usually only in the mind. The fact that Margaret openly states her feelings shows that she is not afraid of what people think and also that her words are not springing from a source of internal conflict—she had time to think about what she wanted to say, and she says it in a very particular way, despite her emotional state which would justify irrationality. She, to me, seems perfectly rational.

Myra Gonzalez said...

I thoughly enjoyed Queen Margaret's verbal assault on Queen Elizabeth and Richard. I do feel she is quite bitter but I can understand her bitterness stems from the lose of her title, husband and son. Her anger about the crown revealed the importance and dignity of having a title and authority as a king or queen. I also saw how easily it could be taken away with death. As we went through the lineage of the Lancasters and Yorks I could just cross off the names and reveal the path of death Richard has caused in his path for the crown. The whole system reminds me of a strategic game of chess. Although Queen Margaret has been demoted I get a sense of the powerful woman she is especially as she curses everyone especially Richard. I do feel she was wrong to wish death upon Queen Elizabeth's children after losing her own son. I do wonder if her curses are more of a premonition of event to come especially as Richard is on a killing spree. Also based on the lineage, Queen Elizabeth's sons are in his way.

Cyrus Mulready said...

Your final comments on the lunacy of Margaret are interesting here, Brianna, and I am struck by the thought that "crazy" is oftentimes a term we use to dismiss people who: 1) We would rather not have to deal with and/or 2) People who otherwise lake authority and power. Both of these seem apt descriptions of Margaret, who is someone that the Yorks would prefer to have disappear.