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Richard III


Although independent qualities in and of themselves, deceit, manipulation, and seduction are all to some extent dependant on confidence, control, experience, and situational circumstances. Therefore on many levels, if any of the aforementioned qualities are similar, so too must the confrontations between deceiver and deceived be similar. And so it is that in Shakespeare’s Richard III, Richard’s wooing of Lady Anne and his subsequent wooing of young Elizabeth share glaring similarities. Both scenes have a Richard who swears to do penance, in Anne’s case he says that he will go to a monastery at Chertsey to "wet [Henry’s] grave with [Richard’s] repentant tears" (pg 37), and in Elizabeth’s he swears his love to young Elizabeth by saying "he [intends] to prosper and repent," (251) for the murders of young Elizabeth’s brothers and uncle. Thus we have a supposedly repenting Richard who swears that he does all his bad deeds for the sake of a nonexistent love for two girls that he has grievously wronged. Despite these rather alarming similarities both in word choice and the façade that Richard puts up, the differing confidence, desperation, experience, and control of these separate confrontations result in differing levels of success or failure in the realizing of Richard’s machinations.

Deception, like hypnotism, is dependant heavily upon the person being deceived; consequently, it is of no surprise that there are many significant differences in both the wooing and the results of said wooing of Lady Anne and young Elizabeth. First and foremost it must be remembered that Queen Elizabeth is a mother, and maternal instinct wishes for happiness of loved ones, not money, prestige, or kingdoms. That being said, it is of no surprise that while Queen Elizabeth is allegedly convinced of Richard’s good intentions that he wishes to impose upon her daughter, she bears to fruit her own machinations which provide her daughter an alternative to marrying Richard, which leaver her far better off, according to aforementioned maternal instincts. So while Richard finds it necessary to marry young Elizabeth, for while he remains unwed with her, "[his] kingdom stands on brittle glass" (209), Queen Elizabeth has but her maternal instincts to guide any desperation she feels on her daughters behalf. Lady Anne, however, when approached by Richard, is the one in despair while Richard feels no pressure whatsoever in marrying Lady Anne, for "[he] will not keep her long" (39), anyway. This reversal of necessity and despair is in part responsible for the results of the unorthodox wooing of both women. The result being that Lady Anne, being in such a catatonic purposeless state, accepts Richard as a suitor out of a forced upon sense of duty that Richard imposes on her with his kind, gentle, and deceitful words, while Queen Elizabeth is unable to be hypnotized or deceived by Richard’s words because he appeals to her desire to see her daughter made a queen which directly conflicts with her maternal instincts that scream that young Elizabeth would be unhappy as Richard’s wife.

"You can do it!" seems to be a phrase that inspires people to try their hardest in order that with the extra effort they may succeed where they had previously failed. However what if confidence blinds us, discretion is the better part of valor after all. Was Richard’s confidence, therefore, a help or a hindrance in his wooing of Queen Elizabeth? Beginning the play, Richard regarded himself as a deformed man who could not prove to be a lover. He therefore woos Anne to the full extent of his mental capabilities and proves to be a capable manipulator of emotion. Not doing anything in halves, Richard offers his very life to Anne so that he may appease her, and in so doing, manipulates Anne to an extreme that was impossible with Queen Elizabeth, due to his unjustified confidence. He lets Queen Elizabeth go before he makes her see the supposed validity of his point and even after seeing that she had masterfully countered all that he swore by to win the hand of her daughter. Swearing by his penance by no means should appease a woman whose kids and brother in law one has murdered, and Richard, had he not been blinded by the success of all his machinations thus far laid, should have seen this. Unfortunately Richard fails to realize this and thus fails to realize his goals. All throughout the conversations Queen Elizabeth implies her inability to subject her daughter to Richard’s loving care, yet while in Lady Anne’s case Richard carefully assuaged all fears. Richard did little, however, to put to rest Queen Elizabeth’s accusations. Watching these two scenes is like watching two different debates. One in which the defense masterfully twists the words of the attacker, the other in which the defense bats away any concerns with false confidence and arrogance. Richard’s responses to Queen Elizabeth therefore pale in comparison to the quick wit and humor that is Richard in his wooing of Lady Anne.

Thus it can be seen that small characteristics and changes in external circumstance can be the deciding factor of which side of the schism you land upon, defeat or victory. In Richard’s case, his false confidence and arrogance give him cause to think that he has won over Queen Elizabeth to win her daughter over to his will, while his lack of aforementioned confidence cause him to go into overkill for Anne’s hand, even offering her the chance to kill him. Thus it can be seen that deception and manipulation are dependant on the deceived, control of the situation, desperation and discretion. Shakespeare impresses upon us the necessity to reign in upon our confidence and arrogance and cash in upon the benefits that come with carefulness so that we may better live our lives.



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