I watched the movie starring Laurence Olivier. I read the play. I read some analysis on the play. I thought about it for two weeks. I read the play again. And yet, I still don’t understand why anyone believed Richard’s sincerity from the beginning. I believe Shakespeare intended Richard’s power to be in his words, but as it is, I felt Richard’s sincerity lacking and his speeches unconvincing.
William Shakespeare’s Richard the Third (written early 1590s), opens with a lone Richard, Duke of Gloucester, on stage revealing his ultimate power-hungry plan to the audience. His reasons are unsatisfying.
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain,
And hate the idle pleasures of these days. (I.i.28-32)
He’s a villain just to entertain himself? Blah. In all he says and does to those around him thereafter, it seems clear to me that he is untrustworthy. Why does everyone like him? Yet, his “honeyed words” ensnare the rest, and their downfall leads to his kingship, just as he had planned. All Richard has to do is “urge [Kind Edward IV’s] hatred” (I.i.147), for example, and Clarence is doomed. It’s too easy.
Note that this post contains spoilers for Richard the Third. (more…)