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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: January ::
Re: Richard III, Lover
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 8.0013.  Saturday, 4 January 1997.

(1)     From:   Mason West <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Jan 1997 09:59:41 -0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0007  Q: Richard III, Lover

(2)     From:   Roy Flannagan 614 593-2829 <
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        Date:   Friday, 03 Jan 1997 11:07:32 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   RE: SHK 8.0007 Q: Richard III, Lover

(3)     From:   Carol Light <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Jan 1997 13:16:39 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0007  Q: Richard III, Lover

(4)     From:   Andrew Walker White <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Jan 1997 17:44:18 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0007 Q: Richard III, Lover


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mason West <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Jan 1997 09:59:41 -0200
Subject: 8.0007  Q: Richard III, Lover
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0007  Q: Richard III, Lover

James Jung wrote:

    At the very opening of [Richard III], Richard attributes
    part of his evil planning to the idea that he is not made to
    play the lover . . . However, one scene later he proves to be
    quite a lover with Lady Anne . . . Has anyone ever considered
    this discrepancy or do we just write it off as necessary to
    keep the play moving?

I always considered Richard III's suit of Lady Anne a machiavellian step toward
the consolidation of his political power. His rejection of wooing in general
followed by a pointed courtship ironically underlines his sordid pursuit.

-- Mason West
   
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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roy Flannagan 614 593-2829 <
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Date:           Friday, 03 Jan 1997 11:07:32 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0007 Q: Richard III, Lover
Comment:        RE: SHK 8.0007 Q: Richard III, Lover

Richard as lover

He is a jolly wooer, and he is good at the rhetoric of it.  Lady Anne is quite
a challenge, following the coffin of her dead husband, whom Richard has had
murdered.  Richard is a competitive Cambridge debater, on the one hand, saying
Give me any topic and I will score.  And on the other hand he is a Satanic
Machiavel who views love as a foolish weakness to be played with.  Most women
(not Margaret) are just pushovers to Richard, but then again most men like
Clarence are as well.  Richard uses the void in Anne's life to insert himself,
and he is so powerful that there is no denying him.  As a rhetorician he offers
her a false dilemma, take up the sword or take up me, and she cannot bring
herself to commit murder.  Her feeble "To take is not to give" is one of the
lamest excuses for giving in.

That scene almost always works, even though it is outrageous.

Roy Flannagan

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Light <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Jan 1997 13:16:39 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0007  Q: Richard III, Lover
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0007  Q: Richard III, Lover

I'm not sure there is a discrepancy -- who but a villian indeed would approach,
pursue, and most likely overwhelm, a woman newly widowed?  This seems to me an
astute perception of the human condition:  Richard woos Anne because it is
indeed an outrageous thing to do; Anne responds because it is a weak, but
understandable thing to find refuge from great sadness in flattery and safety
from great danger in the attraction of a powerful man.

(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Jan 1997 17:44:18 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0007 Q: Richard III, Lover
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0007 Q: Richard III, Lover

James Jung's question is an interesting one; the best explanation I have found
for the 'seduction' scene, if it can be called that, comes from Vanessa
Redgrave.  She points out that the political reality of the situation ensures
that Richard's intended has no choice but to say yes. In her opinion, the scene
is extremely difficult to play convincingly.

If it is done well, as in Ian McKellan's version, Richard doesn't really win
her over, but merely exhausts her defenses, and plays deliberately on her
hatred of bloodshed.  It is, in that sense, a psychological rape rather than a
courting scene, in which she is forced to admit that she can't bear to kill
him, and therefore is forced into consenting to his wishes.  Richard's remarks
afterwards can be read to say 'this isn't courtship, we all know it, but it
works nonetheless, and that's enough for me'.

If played in this way, it proves his earlier point about not being a lover in
spades, and suits his brutal nature quite nicely.

Andy White
URbana, IL
 

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