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).

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