Richard Iii’s Disability: Limitations and Impotence

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Richard III’s Disability: Limitations and Impotence In the world of Richard III, King Richard’s disability stands testament to his detestable, villainous character, emblematic of the Tudor era notions of disability. In the article, “Enabling Richard: The Rhetoric of Disability in Richard III”, author Katherine Williams states, “Although Richard's body appears singularly deficient among the other characters in the play, he relies upon the multiple significations of his deformities as a technology of performance to aid his bid for power, not impede it.” [1] This idea of Richard using his disability to his advantage is flawed. His ‘deformities’ do not ‘aid his bid’ in any way, but rather remain a constant obstacle on his journey to ultimate power and respect, continuously hindering his political goals, stunting growth of character and never allowing him to experience the notion of being ‘normal’. This is particularly evident in the final act of the play, after a visit from the three ghosts, Richard contemplates his actions and reflects on what he has become. Williams suggests that Richard perceives his hatred as his fuel for passionate revenge, but it is the anxious yearning for acceptance which he instead misinterprets. In the opening scene, Richard is “determined to play villain” [2], his decision to claim the throne, that he again places himself a victim to course of nature, which he blames for being “cheated of feature” [3], be his unnatural guide to his reign. Imperfectly shaped, he is noticeably attracted to objects that are as equally flawed as he is, which deters him from ever escaping his constraints and truly obtaining the so called ‘normal’ lifestyle that his surrounding others have refused him. The play opens immediately chastising Richard’s contorted body, emphasizing his impotence. William’s states, “Richard

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