Argumentative Essay on Richard III

This essay has a total of 1204 words and 5 pages.

Richard III


"The tragedy of Richard III lies in the progressive isolation of its protagonist". Discuss.

From the very opening of the play when Richard III enters "solus", the protagonist's
isolation is made clear. Richard's isolation progresses as he separates himself from the
other characters and breaks the natural bonds between Man and nature through his efforts
to gain power.


The first scene of the play begins with a soliloquy, which emphasizes Richard's physical
isolation as he appears alone as he speaks to the audience. This idea of physical
isolation is heightened by his references to his deformity, such as "rudely
stamp'd...Cheated of feature by Dissembling Nature, deformed, unfinished. This deformity
would be an outward indication to the audience of the disharmony from Nature and
viciousness of his spirit. As he hates "the idle pleasures of these days" and speaks of
his plots to set one brother against another, Richard seems socially apart from the
figures around him, and perhaps regarded as an outsider or ostracized because of his
deformity. His separation from is family is emphasized when he says "Dive, thought's down
to my soul" when he sees his brother approaching. He is unable to share his thought with
his own family as he is plotting against them. Thus, we are given hints of his physical,
social and spiritual isolation which is developed throughout the play. But despite these
hints, he still refers to himself as part of the House of York, shown in the repeated use
of "Our".


The concept of Richard's physical isolation is reinforced in his dealings with Anne in Act
I scene ii. She calls him "thou lump of foul deformity" and "fouler toad" during their
exchange. Despite these insults, she still makes time to talk to Richard, and by the end
of their exchange, she has taken his ring and been "woo'd" by him. After Richard has
successfully gained the throne, he isolates himself when he asks the crowd to "stand all
apart" in Act IV scene ii. And later, when Richard dreams, he is completely alone.
Physical isolation in Richard's deformity wins sympathy from the audience as we pity his
condition. But Richard uses his deformity as a tool against the other characters, to
portray them as victimizing Richard. Thus the sense of tragedy is lessened by his own
actions, even though his isolation may become greater as the play progresses.


Richard's psychological isolation is conveyed through his lack of conscience in his
murderous acts. Nowhere does he feel remorse for his murders, until Act V scene iii when
he exclaims "Have mercy Jesu!" and "O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me!". In
this turning point, Richard's division from his own self is made clear from "I and I", and
"Is there a murderer here? No. Yes, I am!" He has conflicting views of himself and
realizes that "no creature" loves him, not even himself. We also never the "real" mind of
Continues for 3 more pages >>




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