Richard IIIRichard III is one of Shakespeare's tragedies. The play is set in England, after the war of the two roses between the royal families of the Yorks and the Lancasters. The war was going on because of the absence of a legitimate heir to the throne. The winner king is Edward IV, who becomes king after the Yorks' victory. But his brother Richard wants to becomes king too and he is ready to do everything needed to obtain the power, without any scruple.
Richard is the "villain" of the play, a person who enjoys being bad and whose characteristics concise with the worst of the human nature. He pretends to be a loving brother while actually he's envious, violent, mischievious, deformed. He's pure evil but, despite this, he is very clever and able to convince people that he is sincere.Using this skill he manipulates all the members of his family and the aristocracy. The king dies leaving two young boys on the throne. This occasion gives Richard the opportunity to gain power. Indeed he becomes lord protector of England, because the two princes are still too young to be kings. According to the legend, Richard hides the two boys in the Tower of London and makes them be killed, consequently Richard becomes king.
Shakespeare calls Richard with the epitote "Duce of Glowcest", this to show his refusion to the fact that Richard is king, even if he's an usurper. Actually, the history says that Richard wasn't so bad as in Shakespeare's play but for the playwriter it was useful to exaggerate in his description. In this way, the play offers Shakespeare the chance to spread a message of propaganda and allows him to promote the Tudors, seen as the "good kings".
Richard is the villain of the play but at the same time he's its main character. He's described as a regettable man, even because of his physical aspect, indeed he has hunchback, which makes him deformed and, according to the medieval tradition, evil personality can be found in deformed or ugly people. So his behaviour is thought to be a consequence of his physical aspect.
The tragedy deals with history, betrayal and violence but it focuses on human psicology. Richard is potraited as the worst king ever existed. He embodies the features of the villain, he's violent, self-concerned, cruel. The tragedy also deals with love: not a romantic love but a temporary passion linked to personal advantage. With his intelligence, Richard makes Lady Anne, a noblewoman, marry him, even if she knows that he has murdered her previous husband. He makes this because having married an important member of the York family would legitimates Richard's presence on the throne. Then he makes her wife be killed in order to marry his niece Elizabeth.
Another feature which characterizes the play is the presence of the supernatural.In the age where the plot is set people believed in supernatural creatures. In his last days of life, Richard is tormented by ghosts that remind him of all his innocent victims.
The play is influenced by Latin and Greek sources, indeed, following the Senecan tradition, crimes and blood scattering on the stage are an enjoyment for people.