Explore how Shakespeare dramatises Richard III attitudes towards women.
Shakespeare’s Richard, Duke of Gloucester is multifarious personality, with his ambition to gain the crown of England driving his actions throughout the play. Richard is a viciously self-interested man, seemingly uncaring about the pain that his plotting causes others. Richard III follows Richards rise to power and the trail of betrayal, mistrust and destruction he leaves in his wake. A key theme throughout is the struggle for power between Richard and the women of the play.
The opening soliloquy of Act 1 gives an important insight into the reasons for Richards scathing attitude towards women. Initially the soliloquy seems to be joyful and he appears to be making very positive comments about his brother, King Edward.
“Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York” (1.1.1-2)
However, it quickly becomes clear that Richard’s comments are heavily sardonic and sarcastic as he criticises his brother. It is obvious from this first soliloquy that Shakespeare has moulded Richard to look almost monstrous and noticeably deformed. From the beginning of the play we are aware of Richard’s feelings about his body and how much contempt and disdain he has for being given such a repugnant body.
“Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinished” (1.1.19-20)
Richard draws the audience in, and endeavours to attract our sympathy by addressing his deformity. By doing this he is clearly trying to manipulate the audience. He talks about how he has “no delight to pass away the time” (1.1.25). He is aware that the men who are capable of attracting wives and lovers are generally handsome young men which is the complete contradiction of Richard. Unfortunately for Richard he has been “rudely stamped” and is “not...