Richard Iii Powerlessness

1431 Words6 Pages
For all its emphasis on power, much of the play is actually concerned with powerlessness. In what ways is powerlessness important in Richard III? In King Richard III, Shakespeare depicts Yorkist society as an utterly selfish, power-hungry world in which social standing is of the utmost importance. Antagonist and evil “villain” Richard exemplifies this egotism and avarice through his constant, ruthless manipulation and deceit of others. However, Shakespeare makes it clear that in fact others’ narrow-mindedness is key to Richard’s success. In addition, the women in King Richard III are able to see through Richard’s duplicity but have no influence with which to expose him. Shakespeare explores the inherent sexism of Yorkist society and how it leaves the women with no control. Richard’s eventual downfall comes as a result of insatiable greed and paranoia, and his fear of losing power clouds his sight, preventing him from comprehending those around him and ultimately leading to his death. However, even once Richard realises he can do nothing to prevent his defeat, he asserts that he would rather fulfil his hellish role with pride than retreat in cowardice. Richard is able to influence and control those around him as a result of each individual’s desire for power. Yorkist society, as it is portrayed by Shakespeare, is one that emphasises structure, hierarchy and the importance of power, and this leads to a nobility full of self-absorbed, parochial beings. Richard believes he has been “cheated… by dissembling nature” and that the only compensation for his deformity can come through control over others – to him it seems like his right in place of the ability to “caper nimbly in a lady’s chamber”. Buckingham, Richard’s accomplice and “other self”, is also interested in furthering his political standing, and he decides that siding with Richard will be the most effective
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