Richard III The Un historical Underpinnings Essay

Length: 3 pages Sources: 4 Subject: Government Type: Essay Paper: #48787532 Related Topics: King Lear, United Nations, Lady Macbeth, Selfishness
Excerpt from Essay :

This reinvention has continued in every era since, including in the modern film adaptation of Richard the Third starring Ian McKellan. Set just prior to World War II and with Richard as a fascist dictator who often appears quasi-Naziish, this film version gives much darker political overtones to Richard's climb and eventual reign than appear in Shakespeare's text. Though this makes the depth of Richard's evil far more profound and influential, it also has the effect of somewhat ruining the original impact of the play (or script) by making the outcome too serious.

There is, of course, no lack of seriousness in the political effects of the play or the grief of the many characters that Richard wrongs on his way to the throne, but it is tempered throughout the script by Richard's sense of his own dastardliness, and his completely self-serving attitude. In the script, he does desire to not wield power simply or even primarily because he thrives on being in charge, but more because he thrives on being the center of attention. Though McKellan's performance of the part is highly watchable and even shows the delicious evilness of the character at some moments, the politicization of the plot weakens the sense of humor and selfishness that is such a fundamental part of Richard's character and the script. It certainly lets the film make a strong statement about modern politics and the similarities that exist between...

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But this reinterpretation and reinvention of Shakespeare necessarily loses something of the original flavor of the Bard's work.

Admittedly, the "true" flavor of Shakespeare's original intent cannot be known, and could not be reproduced outside the mores, beliefs, and culture of his time, and there is certainly something noteworthy in the ability to adapt and update his plays so readily. There is also a great deal of value, however, in attempting to appreciate Shakespeare's plays for what they were. Richard the Third is not a history, nor even truly a tragedy; it is a darkly funny play, with Richard as the comic evil genius at the center of it all. Read in this way, the play still has commentary, but is far more enjoyable.

Works Cited

Barton, Anne. "The London Scene: The City and the Court." The Cambridge

Companion to Shakespeare. New York: Cambridge University Press 2001.

Evans, G. Blakemore and M. Tobin, eds. The Riverside Shakespeare. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2003.

Grady, Hugh. "Shakespeare Criticism: 1600-1900." The Cambridge

Companion to Shakespeare. New York: Cambridge University Press 2001.

Shakespeare, William. Richard the Third. In the…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Barton, Anne. "The London Scene: The City and the Court." The Cambridge

Companion to Shakespeare. New York: Cambridge University Press 2001.

Evans, G. Blakemore and M. Tobin, eds. The Riverside Shakespeare. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2003.

Grady, Hugh. "Shakespeare Criticism: 1600-1900." The Cambridge


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