Haunted by self-loathing and a sense of his own ugliness — he is repeatedly likened to a boar or rooting hog — he found refuge in a feeling of entitlement, blustering overconfidence, misogyny and a merciless penchant for bullying.
From this psychopathology, the play suggests, emerged the character’s weird, obsessive determination to reach a goal that looked impossibly far off, a position for which he had no reasonable expectation, no proper qualification and absolutely no aptitude.“Richard III,” which proved to be one of Shakespeare’s first great hits, explores how this loathsome, perverse monster actually attained the English throne.
Something in us enjoys every minute of his horrible ascent to power.
Shakespeare brilliantly shows all of these types of enablers working together in the climactic scene of this ascent.
These allies and followers help him ascend from step to step, collaborating in his dirty work and watching the casualties mount with cool indifference.
Essay Iii Richard
They are, as Shakespeare imagines it, among the first to go under, once Richard has used them to obtain his end.“I like you, lads.” It is not necessary to look around to find people who embody this category of collaborators.They are we, the audience, charmed again and again by the villain’s jaunty outrageousness, by his indifference to the ordinary norms of human decency, by the lies that seem to be effective even though no one believes them, by the seductive power of sheer ugliness.His success in obtaining the crown depended on a fatal conjunction of diverse but equally self-destructive responses from those around him.The play locates these responses in particular characters — Lady Anne, Lord Hastings, the Earl of Buckingham and so forth — but it also manages to suggest that these characters sketch a whole country’s collective failure. First, there are those who trust that everything will continue in a normal way, that promises will be kept, alliances honored and core institutions respected.For his theatrical test case, Shakespeare chose an example closer to home: the brief, unhappy reign in 15th-century England of King Richard III.Richard, as Shakespeare conceived him, was inwardly tormented by insecurity and rage, the consequences of a miserable, unloved childhood and a twisted spine that made people recoil at the sight of him.In the early 1590s, Shakespeare sat down to write a play that addressed a problem: How could a great country wind up being governed by a sociopath?The problem was not England’s, where a woman of exceptional intelligence and stamina had been on the throne for more than 30 years, but it had long preoccupied thoughtful people.Why, the Bible brooded, was the kingdom of Judah governed by a succession of disastrous kings?How could the greatest empire in the world, ancient Roman historians asked themselves, have fallen into the hands of a Caligula?