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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: March ::
Re: Richard 3
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0356.  Friday, 14 March 1997.

[1]     From:   JoAnna Koskinen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 Mar 1997 10:02:33 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0342  Re: Richard 3

[2]     From:   JoAnna Koskinen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 Mar 1997 10:12:45 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0348  Re: Richard 3


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           JoAnna Koskinen <
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Date:           Thursday, 13 Mar 1997 10:02:33 -0800
Subject: 8.0342  Re: Richard 3
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0342  Re: Richard 3

>Yet, we do not view RII or Bolingbroke as inherently evil or
>"deformed".  It seems your issue gets blurred between evil represented
>as deformity and evil for evil's sake.  Is Buckingham evil? He certainly
>makes R's rise to power possible yet he has a line he won't cross
>regarding the princes.

I do believe that the deformity of Richard was a conscious choice based
on the propaganda of the real Richard and - more importantly - his
recognition of the society's response to superstition. "Ugly is as ugly
does" is a less delicate way of putting it, but given the period I can
see the reasoning behind this.

>Text is subject to interpretation - I suggest the following - in my case
>to give my students a possible glimpse into R's soul - in his second
>scene with Lady Anne he states "I'll have her, but I'll not keep her
>long"  It is possible since he is aware of his own limitations, knows
>she may regret her acquiescence, and is realistic about it, that R is
>making a statement about his intentions, but about his knowledge that
>she will not be with him long once she realises what she has done.

Why must Richard have a soul? Shakespeare's plays seem to suggest a
difference between soul and conscience. Desdemona had a soul; it was
Othello's conscience (played out by Iago) that killed her.

>My possible alternative looks at R as one with a soul - why else feel
>sympathy - why else have the ghost scene and his lack of  finesse with
>Elizabeth - we can't just gloat over his demise...can we?

His lack of finesse with Elizabeth represents nothing more than the
Wheel Of Fortune( Don't you just love Vanna?), turning Richard out of
favor. His betrayal to Buckingham marks the downfall. I look at that as
a theme on "Honor amongst Thieves (and what happens when one guy drops
the ball)."

>His deformity was historic - Shakespeare may have exaggerated for effect
>- it's much more interesting that way. But, can you ignore the history
>to plead your case?

Yes, I can. I think it's important to recognize the many different
points of view when reading Shakespeare. Once you acknowledge that fact
to the class, you then explain why you are only addressing one, two or
three of those points. Remember, we're talking an Intro to Shakespeare
class here, so it's important that they leave appreciating the work and
not the avalanche of Modern Critical Theories that can overshadow it.
There'll be plenty of time for that later, I think.

>A note on your "Silence of the Lambs" comment.  Anne supposedly was a
>ward in R's household as they were growing up - What does one covet?
>One covets the thing which one sees everyday and can not have....

Exactly my point.

Thanks John! I happen to subscribe to David Bevington's approach to
Shakespeare. I interviewed him at the Shakespeare conference in LA, and
found him very amiable and funny. His edition of TCWO Shakespeare-in my
opinion-gives the student permission to enjoy the plays for what they
are. In no way does he ignore the many interpretations based on new
found criticisms, but he seems to keep in mind that the plays should
be-above all else - enjoyed (Personally, I tend to read them like a
trashy novel).

JoAnna

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           JoAnna Koskinen <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 13 Mar 1997 10:12:45 -0800
Subject: 8.0348  Re: Richard 3
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0348  Re: Richard 3

Mark said:

>Austin Pendleton said it best about Richard III...he said the actor
>playing him must view the world from the "perspective of the
>rattlesnake"- meaning, of course, his views are not the same as the rest
>of the world, his point A is not our point A, and so he is justified in
>his own mind...as is Iago.

Absolutely!

>Having played both these sweet guys, I can tell you that in each, the
>villainy springs from a skewed personal view, a lack of proportion.
>Orson Welles said once that he was always amused at the whole library of
>scholarly works on the motives of Iago, as if the authors couldn't
>understand why a person would do what Iago does, when anyone who has
>lived ( and esp. in the theatrical world) has known an Iago or two. My
>approach to him was simply that lack of proportion-he was passed over
>for promotion, and it seems quite natural to Iago that "tit for tat"
>would dictate the ruining of Othello's marriage and life. To Iago these
>balance quite well. Olivier once said that while in the RAF, he was
>constantly harassed and abused by a superior officer, and was
>determined to get even with him, and while musing as to how, suddenly
>thought," why, of course, he has a wife..." then it came to him " God,
>that's Iago!"

>Richard springs from jealousy, too, but he is contemptuous of the
>well-proportioned folks around him, and rightly proud of the feats he
>has accomplished given his deformities. He, like Iago, is aware of his
>crimes and mindset, and makes the choice to set himself apart even more
>" I am determined to prove a villain". But there are actually more
>moments of doubt in Richard than Iago...there are several references to
>Richard's sleepless nights, and nightmares, and we see one of them.
>Richard's ambition pushes him on, in spite of knowing the evil he is
>committing, while Iago is absolutely convinced of his own righteous
>position. We see Richard begin to crack as the play runs toward its
>conclusion, his decision-making becoming a little more disjointed after
>he's king (his whole being had been focused on getting it, not on
>maintaining his hold),

Yes! Not to mention that the moment he breaks his promise to Buckingham,
he then creates an imbalance within his own world of tit for tat!

>whereas Iago stays the course all the way, and
>succeeds in his plots to ruin Othello's marriage and life, and only the
>problem of a little light aimed at his deceptions catches him in his own
>nets. Yet I believe he is less concerned with his own destiny than is
>Richard...Iago seems wholly bent for Othello's ruin, not his own
>gain-indeed, what could he gain without Othello's coattails to hold on
>to? I approached the news that " Cassio rules in Cyprus" with more
>distress than " Tortures will ope his lips", because that meant the plot
>to which he was committed didn't completely succeed.

 I agree totally.

>Richard's lines after the nightmare " There is no creature loves
>me...And if I die, no soul shall pity me" opens up a huge crack in the
>carapace of confident cruelty. He is human, but not one we recognize
>easily. He is the rattlesnake, with a world-view all his own.

I'm still working on the "soul" thing; have been for a while. I believe
that Shakespeare interpreted soul conscience differently; one makes
cowards of us all, and the other, well, I'm still working on it.

Thanks,
JoAnna
 

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