Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 8.0032. Friday, 10 January 1997.
From: Christine Jacobson <
Date: Thursday, 9 Jan 1997 16:00:19 -0700
Subject: Looking for Richard III - Jimmy
This is further to the January 8th postings on this topic - a topic which I
must say, fascinates me. One question that comes to mind when looking over
David Bevington's "Shakespeare" is the classifing this play as a Tragedy
instead of a History Play. This play is listed as "The Tragedy of Richard
III". In any case, this whole question regarding this scene of the wooing of
Lady Anne and Richard III's perception of his own lack of appropriateness for
loving and looking-glass looking is central to the classification of this play
as a "Tragedy". Richard III, perceiving himself as "unnatural" takes himself
out of the candicacy for normal human relationships and receiver of natural
love. Psychologically, he is really, in fact, protecting himself from hurt,
from emotional injury, is he not? He woos Anne so successfully, yet he does
not really appreciate the strength of his verbal ability. He does not then
recognize his own self as a real wooer and a real human being. This relates
back to his statement about the looking glass. He really doesn't look at him
self and appreciate his true power of persuasion, his ability to really make
people love him and follow him. He really doesn't need most of his treachery
to be successful. He doesn't have to play this game without reaping the
benefit of love and devotion. This is profoundly ironic. At the end of the
play his is spoken of as a brave and true warrior, fighting with courage and
capable of our admiration. This is a hint of what really is underneath his
ugly exterior and his ugly shaping of his own self. This motif of the
"unloveable and unloving" figure is seen again in a later play, "King Lear"
when Edmund has a transformation and change of heart and makes a somewhat
redeeming attempt at saving Cordelia's life. He does this after seeing that
Goneril and Regean's death has occured over the love of him. He states that he
is finally loved, or at least knows that he has been loved. Perhaps because he
has been loved, he can be loving. This is where I relate this motif to Richard
III's psychological predicament and the resulting demise of his victims.
The most recent Richard III film has a very sensuous interpretation of
Richard's wooing scene of Lady Anne. In particular he takes his ring off of
his finger with his mouth and places the wet ring on Anne's finger. OOO! Wow!
I find an interesting parallel between Shakespeare's characterization of
Richard III and the Canadian author, Mordecai Richler's character, Duddy
Kravitz in the book of the same name. He is major "conner" who misses the
point of his great charisma as it realates to possible gain in human
relation-ships and subsequently, a happier kind of power.
I'm sure most of you could explain this irony in Richard III with greater
poignancy, but I hope you find the ideas here of some interest.
Christine Jacobson @MHC