Re-Reading Shakespeare's Richard III: Tragic Hero and Villain?

Date

2017

Advisors

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

ISSN

2285-9403

Volume Title

Publisher

De Gruyter

Type

Article

Peer reviewed

Yes

Abstract

The discovery of the body of the historical Richard III under a Leicester car park in 2012 sparked fresh interest in one of England’s most controversial kings. Accused of murdering his nephews—the Princes in the Tower—Richard’s reign was cut short when he was defeated by Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond (later Henry VII), at the Battle of Bosworth (1485). Richard was subsequently demonised in Tudor historiography, perhaps most famously by Sir Thomas More in his “History of King Richard the thirde” (printed 1557). It is to More that we owe the popular image of Richard III as a “croke backed” and “malicious” villain (More 37), an image which Shakespeare has been accused of further codifying and popularising in his Richard III. Today, the historical Richard III’s defenders argue for the king’s good qualities and achievements and blame early writers such as More and Shakespeare for demonising Richard; but, in Shakespeare’s case at least, this essay argues that the possibility of a sympathetic—and even a heroic—reading of the king is built in to his characterisation of Richard III.

Description

Open Access journal

Keywords

Shakespeare, Shakespeare's Richard III, Richard III, tragedy, villainy

Citation

Keenan, S. (2017) Re-Reading Shakespeare’s Richard III: Tragic Hero and Villain?. Linguaculture, The Journal of Linguaculture Centre of (Inter)cultural and (Inter)lingual Research, Alexandru Ioan Cuza Univieristy of Iasi, 8:1

Rights

Research Institute

Institute of English
Institute of Drama, Dance and Performance Studies