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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: March ::
Re: Richard 3
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0352.  Thursday, 13 March 1997.

[1]     From:   Andrew Walker White <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Mar 1997 11:40:25 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Richard III

[2]     From:   Sean K. Lawrence <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Mar 1997 11:16:52 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0348  Re: Richard 3


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Mar 1997 11:40:25 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Richard III

Sorry for the late reply; it is my observation that with every villain
Shakespeare creates, he refuses to use a purely naturalistic or
idealistic palette.  Like the Mannerists who were popular in his day, he
experiments with realism and idealism to varying degrees.

Richard is't drawn as a cardboard villain-his point, in his monologues,
is that his birth was just part of his character development; the
catalogue of euphemisms, "deformed, unfinish'd', etc., indicates that he
has had to put up with the biases of his time, and for long enough that
he doesn't feel he owes anyone any favors.  Having devoted his life to
the promotion of the York family claim to the throne, and having been
treated more like a faithful dog than much else, he is portrayed here as
being villainous, but with some good reasons for being so.

The same is true of Iago, who is clearly just as vulnerable to jealousy
as Othello (it alone moves his actions in the play), or Shylock, an even
better example; while Shylock is a typical 'senex', or old man/romantic
obstacle from the comedies of Greece and Rome, Shakespeare gives him
that glorious rebuttal, 'hath not a Jew eyes?', which has led to the
popular interpretation of Shylock as tragic figure, rather than comic
foil as he was originally intended.

Which is as much as to say, perhaps you're both right, but perhaps
you're also both wrong, each in your own way.  A fruitful discussion,
perhaps, would be to assume complexity of character and explore the
contradictions Shakespeare has created for you.

Andy White
Arlington, VA

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean K. Lawrence <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Mar 1997 11:16:52 -0800
Subject: 8.0348  Re: Richard 3
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0348  Re: Richard 3

> Just a couple of addedums here: there is no evidence that Richard III
> was "historically" a hunchback.

An historian friend of mine pointed out to me once that Richard was
known as a skilled fencer.  In order to be a skilled fencer with a
broadsword, he probably had an overdeveloped right shoulder.

Cheers,
Sean.
 

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