Richard III–Act V

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And we end with a body count of fifteen, including Richard himself.

In the opening, we have a frame of reference to the time in which the action takes place. Buckingham is going to be executed on All Soul’s Day. And we see all of the souls that Richard has taken.

And now, for a brief comparison between Richard and Richmond:

  1. Richard goes to bed with a bowl of wine (very Roman), while Richmond kneels down in prayer before retiring. The old Rome vs. the new. Oh, not to mention that the East is capitalized when Stanley refers to it…Nothing cool comes from East to West in history…oh…wait…
  2. Richard mentions saints (Paul, the saint of conversion–right after his conscience is eaten away by the “dream” of the ghosts–and George, the saint of battle) but never actually prays to them, while Richmond seems in constant prayer to God and the saints.
  3. Their speeches contain what they are fighting for–Richard appeals to material needs, such as their land and wives, while Richmond makes the appeal to justice, God, and England herself. Richmond’s speech gets you going! Richard, far from the plays opening speech, is just…flat.

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“My kingdom for a horse!” (V.iv.7). Richard dies on the field of battle by the hand of Richmond. But, wait, I thought historically he lost the battle and was imprisoned in the tower. What is Shakespeare saying by making him die during the context of the battle? Perhaps that the battle is where his life, as he made it, truly ended there? Or that we needed to see justice served?

The play ends in a prayer, that England will never again be soaked in so much blood. Historically, that doesn’t exactly happen…and Shakespeare is writing during such a time where things are rather…bloody. Points to you if you guess who’s blood is being shed and under who’s reign it begins. Richmond’s final speech is also to note the reconciliation between houses. Very very cool, and extremely satisfying after watching such a body count amass during the play.

I’ll do a final wrap-up of general themes through the play for Sunday. Until then, “Now civil wounds are stopp’d; peace lives again” (V.v.40).

Richard III–Act IV

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Body count: 8

When the scene starts off, we have all the ladies gathered, none at this time know that the princes have been slain, Richard is King or that Anne is about to be made his wife. It is from a slip by Brakenbury that they learn what fate holds for them.

I find it interesting that there is not a set scene for the coronation. We merely see Richard as king–the audience misses out on the pomp and circumstance. I think this is actually quite fitting. Ceremony is the physical embodiment (in action) that expresses an idea. Graduations represent endings. Weddings represent two becoming one flesh. Coronations represent someone coming into the throne to properly guide a country. Too bad this is a country soaked in blood–it’s all too fitting there is no ceremony.

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At the end of scene two, Buckingham realizes that he’s really of nothing to Richard, and gets ready to take off.

The Literature in me wants to turn the topic to the idea of conversation at the end of this scene. Comedies tend to hold everything in conversation, tragedies tend to be the long monologue that is never conductive to conversation. Buckingham realizes his relation to the king in the king’s complete lack of conversation–he’s basically talking to himself.

With the entrance of Margaret, we have the full list of the dead–lists show an expanse of something, this one shows how much blood England’s royalty is standing in. Everyone’s crying for revenge.

The act ends on the eve of war, and that is how I leave you.

Until tomorrow.

Richard III–Act III

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Act III–Body count: 6 and Richard is to be crowned.

Woof.

I want to address a few things (in the form I love most, lists!) briefly.

  1. The opening scene with Prince Edward. He’s brilliant, that’s a given, but he speaks of two things, primarily. Julius Caesar and the distinction of how wit and fame lead to immortality. Just to throw it out there–he’s famous for the ‘Princes in the Tower’ story and the play itself is named after an infamous king. Perhaps a little relevant?
  2. Religious looks vs. Actions. (the inner heart vs. outward actions is almost the key theme in this play, but this is the easiest pin-point example I can find in a brief time-frame…also, most of the language regarding actions are religious in this play–some food for thought) Look at Hastings. What does he say when he’s about to face death? His reconciliation. Yet, you never hear him stating “By Saint Paul” or “Mother of our Lord.” That comes from two men–ol’ Dick and Buckingham.
  3. Scene VI: Just the Scrivener! Now, I love a good scrivener, who doesn’t? His last words sound alike in pitch to the scene in the previous act with the citizens–“Bad is the world, and all will come to naught/When such ill-dealing must be seen in thought.” (III.vi.13-14)–What, do you suppose, does it mean to see in thought? (I’m thinking the entire action of this play may be the answer)
  4. Notice there are no women in this act.
  5. Everyone who’s about to die reference good ol’ Margaret

Until tomorrow, folks.

Richard III–Act II (and better Introduction)

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My apologies for not better addressing an introduction yesterday. With a cast of characters a mile long, and minor confusion about who is killing who, I just had to plow through and finish to stay on schedule.

That said: men usurping kingship! I went into this play thinking Richard would be a good guy. Oh, wait, no, he’s going to kill anyone who gets in his way for the throne. You can tell by his very introduction: soliloquies are a staple of tragedy, and this play starts off with one.

Before going any further, With Shakespeare’s historical plays, I like to do a brief look at what his king’s are historically known for–and what Shakespeare does with them in his plays–and what better way of doing that in the modern century than to look to…Wikipedia!

Richard III (2 October 1452 – 22 August 1485) was King of England for two years, from 1483 until his death in 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. His defeat at the Battle of Bosworth Field was the decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses and is sometimes regarded as the end of the Middle Ages in England. He is the subject of an eponymous play by William Shakespeare.
When his brother Edward IV died in April 1483, Richard was named Lord Protector of the realm for Edward’s son and successor, the 12-year-old King Edward V. As the new king traveled to London from Ludlow, Richard met and escorted him to London, where he was lodged in the Tower of London. Edward V’s brother Richard later joined him there. Arrangements began to be made for Edward’s coronation on 22 June.
However, before the young king could be crowned, Edward IV’s marriage to the boys’ mother Elizabeth Woodville was publicly declared to be invalid, making their children illegitimate and ineligible for the throne. On 25 June an assembly of lords and commoners endorsed these claims. The following day, Richard III officially began his reign. He was crowned on 6 July. The two young princes were not seen in public after August and there arose subsequently a number of accusations that the boys had been murdered by Richard, giving rise to the legend of the Princes in the Tower.

To make it brief, we’re talking about this guy…
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Suffice to say that Shakespeare has so far painted a very nasty picture of ol’ King Dick, but we won’t be able to see exactly what he’s doing until the end.

The act opens up with sick King Edward reconciling grudges and hatred for love. This, of course, shifts when Richard scorns Queen Elizabeth for wanting Clarence to be there. After the woeful mourning over Clarence, King Edward meets his untimely demise as well–the only brother left is Richard. That’s a body count of two, and we’re only in the second act.

Scene three interests me the most, because it takes us into the lives of the common citizens that live under this family. While most of what the audience has witnessed so far, it’s solely been the falling a part of the royal family. What trickles down to the commoner is one thing: fear. Which, as an audience member, I certainly feel myself as well.

The act ends with the taking of young Prince Edward into the Tower of London. Mercy. So, everyone seems to know that Richard is despicable, it’s been in the ruminating conversation between all the women–so…why is it taking so long to see that he’s the actual traitor, belonging in the Tower? I’m just a little perplexed.

Until tomorrow.

Richard III–Act I

This will not be a good introduction. I finished the first act, and honestly, I have no idea what the heck is going on. I had to work for a Christmas party bartending, or I would have taken the day to research more about this play.

Top three things:

  1. Richard is the spitting image of Machiavelli’s Prince. Example:
    Now, they believe it; and withal whet me
    To be revenged on Rivers, Vaughan, Grey:
    But then I sigh; and, with a piece of scripture,
    Tell them that God bids us do good for evil:
    And thus I clothe my naked villany
    With old odd ends stolen out of holy writ;
    And seem a saint, when most I play the devil. (I.iii.332-339)
  2. Murderer # 2, repenting from the death of Clarence
  3. Never do I remember reading a play that has a body count in the first act. It’s about to get crazy.

Okay, I’m busy. Until tomorrow.

As You Like It–Act V and Final Wrap-up

My apologies for not updating Friday. After the horrific tragedy in Newton, CT, I had no ability to focus on anything but prayers for those dear families. This entry will be quick, because I have not spent the mental energies necessary to do the play justice. But I believe that mental energies and thoughts are due to the Sandy Hook community at this time, rather than Shakespeare.

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The main point that I want to bring to light from Act V is the nature of the conversion of both Oliver and Duke Freddy. As it turns out, Oliver was sincere in his reuniting with his brother Orlando, and to make matters even better, falls deeply in love with Celia, cementing his change of heart. Duke Freddy’s story is strange, almost a “Deus ex Machina” kind of turn around. Upon meeting a holy man, he drops his life and joins a religious order. I’m reading this thinking “Whaaaaaa?”

However, both share one really critical thing in common: they take place off-stage. We only hear about them through either Oliver himself or through De Boys. I was trying to think which would be more successful–If we were able to see these conversions of heart take place (we don’t even see Oliver wooing Celia) or if it actually is better left to our imaginations. Part of me wants to stretch the idea of second hand versus first hand experience to this point, since the audience only knows about this integral part of the action’s reconciliation through second hand information.

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My apologies that this isn’t a true-blue “wrap-up,” but if I don’t end it with As You Like It here, I’ll never get started on tomorrow’s adventure–Richard III!