Richard and Looking for Richard Essay Example
Richard and Looking for Richard Essay Example

Richard and Looking for Richard Essay Example

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  • Pages: 4 (1063 words)
  • Published: March 30, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
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Individuals often resonate with concepts, principles and ideas. Art and literature are formed by the societal values and norms of their time. In this vein, the societal values will inevitably influence the outcome of a piece as the author attempts to engage their audience. Yet, the principles depicted in Shakespeare's 15th century tragedy, Richard III (RIII) go beyond his contemporary world and align with the values we stand by today.

The sustained significance of the play RIII is driven by our modern society's interest in redefining the roles of women, characterization of villains (Richard), and the importance of materialism in today's contexts. Al Pacino's 1998 docudrama, 'Looking for Richard' ('LFR'), illustrates this interest. In his work, Pacino delves into the values of his time's society and their influence on art and theatre while striving to draw parallels and contra


sts between Shakespeare's values, the societal context of Shakespeare, and his present-day audience.

The text exposes Shakespeare's personal beliefs, demonstrating his high regard for women. This is the thread that tethers us to this body of work, allowing it to resonate in current society. Regardless of its historical context, Shakespeare lends powerful, prophetic, and evaluative voices to the female protagonists of 'Riii'. 'Anne', 'Margaret', 'Elizabeth', and the 'Duchess of York' faithfully echo the situations, characters, and ethical positions portrayed in the tragic narrative. 'Thou too had a Clarence and Richard who was his bane.'

The women in the narrative enhance their critique of the aristocracy and men through lamenting, swearing and predicting. The statement "Edward for Edward pays a mortal debt" highlights their effectiveness. Their influential dialogue and persona are emphasized through vivid anima

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metaphors like 'rooting hog' and Queen Elizabeth's proficiency in rivaling Richard's verbal intelligence with expressions such as "conveyed to her by the man who murdered her brother". Nonetheless, Shakespeare's portrayal of women and their position within social strata is affected by the entrenched societal norms of his time.

Riii suggests that women's opinions are often overlooked as it never displays Elizabeth making the choice to entrust her daughter to Richmond. Instead, we merely receive Stanley's tersely worded report that ‘the Queen hath heartily agreed / He [Richmond] would wed Elizabeth her daughter'. This alludes to the societal norms during Shakespeare’s time where women were seen only as instruments to pave the way for Richmond's eventual rule, a contrast to contemporary societal values. Pacino's understanding of his own societal context also influences his depiction of the role of women.

Pacino advocates for an equal perspective, aiming to sustain a link with Shakespeare and his spectators. Therefore, Pacino tends toward involving women and their viewpoints to make Shakespeare appealing to contemporary audiences. The incorporation of female actors offers a deeper understanding of the female characters and language. The perceptive observation from Vanessa Redgrave that 'Shakespeare's verse and his meter gently fell and ascended through the rhythm of the spirit,' highlighted by bright lighting, showcases an aspiration to incorporate women, mirroring modern American principles and connecting 'LFR' with Shakespearean values.

The personal beliefs of women that Pacino upholds become clear as he tries to align with the societal norms of Shakespeare's era rather than the playwright's individual viewpoint. The casting of a young, attractive female artist for Anne and the consistent altering and silencing of her speech in Richard's presence

can be interpreted as an appreciation of women for their charm, not for their abilities or rhetoric. The depiction of Richard and aristocracy presents a significant correlation to present society because we can identify parallels between monarchical rule and current political leaders, incorporating these elements into the plot of 'Riii.'

Shakespeare presents a critique of the upper-classes by depicting Richard as a character reminiscent of Machiavellian traits. 'I am resolved to become a villain'. The clear criticism of choosing evil as a path in autocratic rule is laid out by Shakespeare, as he investigates the deceit and villainy in every aristocratic character, except Richmond. 'Your Clarence is no more, for he killed my Edward’, ‘I also had a Rutland, and you murdered him'.

In Shakespeare's characterization of Richard, he presents the corruption prevalent in most autocratic systems. Richard's choices serve as a cover for others to engage in corruption in their pursuit of power or wealth, as shown in Bakenbury's internal monologue before Clarence’s assassination. His words - ‘I will not reason what is meant hereby, because I will be guiltless from the meaning’ - suggest this corrupt side. At the same time, Shakespeare employs components of a vice figure to resonate with his immediate audience and conform to their belief systems: 'the ormal Vice, Iniquity, I moralise two meanings in one word'. The interpretation of Richard III is further influenced by Shakespeare's inherent prejudice and his access solely to biased historical accounts, particularly from Sir Thomas Moore. Pacino also identifies the Machiavellian personality in Richard, embodying the contemporary belief that one creates one's own fate. Pacino accentuates this by using a red filter, artistic scene transitions,

and evocative music during Richard's Machiavellian monologue 'Is there a murderer here? No. Yes, I am’. His aim is to merge modern cinematic techniques with a contemporary idea to engage his audience.

Relative to Shakespeare, Pacino luxuriates in the figure of vice, refraining from challenging the cursory interpretation or historical validity of Shakespeare's Richard. The portrayal of a vice villain (Pacino's Richard, perpetually filmed in dim light to emphasize his deformities) is an embodiment of pure malevolence and a likely appeal to his contemporary audience, providing heightened drama and displaying his acting prowess. However, it restricts the character's depth and fails to convey the significance of Shakespeare's core values and beliefs. Speaking of materialism,

Shakespeare criticizes the greed and longing for wealth and material goods among the elite, recognizing this yearning as the catalyst for illegal power grab and corruption. In Clarence's dream, the "gems" mockingly scorn the deceased remains of those men who so underestimated life that they gambled it for terrestrial jewels. These people face retribution for their mistake, a mistake that all nobility in the play are guilty of, as all possess a symbolic jewel for which each one would willingly part with his life or others' lives: Richard-desires his coronation, Brankenbury-seeks his employment, Edward-covets his kingdom.

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