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York University
EN 3535

Shakespeare EN3535 – Fall/Winter 2011/2012 – Elizabeth Pentland Lecture 5 Part 2 – Richard III – Oct 18 Richard Burbage (1568-1619) - One of the most famous actors in Shakespeare’s time. - Shareholder in Shakespeare’s theatre. - Played the lead role in Richard III. Last Week… - Background to the play: Shakespeare’s sources for the story of Richard III. - Wars of the Roses (period of civil war in England; Lancastrians and Yorkists). - Women’s roles in the play, the power of cursing. - ‘Tudor Myth’ vs. the historical Richard III. - Richard as tyrant, and as Machiavel. Richard as ‘Machiavel’ - Figure of the Machiavel associated with the work of the Italian political theorist Nicolo Machiavelli, especially his treatise The Prince (1513; published 1532). - ‘I am determined to prove a villain’ (1.1.30) - ‘Plots have I laid…’ (1.1.32) - ‘And if King Edward be as true and just/ As I am subtle, false, and treacherous…’ (1.1.36-37). - ‘Thus, like the formal Vice, iniquity, I moralize two meanings in one word’ (3.1.82- 83). - References to his misshapen body (cf. opening soliloquy); outward appearance corresponds to the state of his soul? - Like Aaron and lago, Richard uses the prejudices of his peers to his advantage, exploiting misogynist discourse in his campaigns against Elizabeth Woodville, and his older brother Edward IV. - Works to discredit his rivals (or has them killed). - Exploiting the ‘theatricality of power’: acting the parts of loyal brother and confidant, love-sick wooer, victim of slander and witchcraft, religious man, reluctant heir to the crown. - Manufacturing evidence, post-facto justifications (e.g. indictment of Hastings). - Do the ‘ends justify the means’? Edward IV (r. 1461-1470; 1471-1483) - First Yorkist King of England. - Famously had many mistresses, including Jane Shore. - Secretly married Elizabeth Woodville in 1464. - Died suddenly in 1470. Richard on Edward IV - Richard presents himself a ‘masculine’, disciplined alternative to the ‘soft’ and ‘effeminate’ governing style of his older brother, Edward IV (cf. opening soliloquy). - Edward ‘ruled by women’ (suggested to Clarence in 1.1.62); their brother more interested in lovemaking than governing? - Edward’s illness as the product of an ‘evil diet’ i.e. a dissolute life (1.1.139-142); repeated references to Mistress Shore. - Calling into question the legitimacy of Edward’s children/heirs; Edward’s violent reaction to a citizen’s doubts. Elizabeth Woodville (1437-1492) - Queen consort of Edward IV. - Mother of the ‘Princes in the Tower’ and of Elizabeth of York. - Her first husband fought on the side of the Lancastrians in the wars of the Roses (Edward IV belonged to the House of York). Richard on Elizabeth Woodville - Speaking to Clarence in 1.1, he implies that Elizabeth rules Edward, her husband: ‘this it is, when men are ruled by women’ (1.1.62); ‘I think it is our way/ if we will keep in favour with the king. / to be her men and wear her lively’ (1.1.78- 80). - Again, in 1.3, speaking publicly) to Elizabeth he says: o ‘Our brother is imprisoned by your means, myself disgraced, and the nobility / Held in contempt, while great promotions / Are daily given to ennoble those / That scarce, some two days since, were worth a noble. (1.3.78-82). - Later in the scene, he accuses her of nepotism: ‘She may help you to many fair preferments / And then deny her aiding hand therein / And lay those honours o
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