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Richard III and the Morality Tradition

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1 Richard III and the Morality Tradition
‘Like the formal Vice’ Richard III and the Morality Tradition

2 Richard as Vice-like John Jowett on ‘the formal Vice, Iniquity’:
RICHARD GLOUCESTER. (aside) So wise so young, they say, do never live long. PRINCE EDWARD. What say you, uncle? RICHARD GLOUCESTER. I say, ‘Without characters fame lives long’. (Aside) Thus like the formal Vice, Iniquity, I moralize two meanings in one word. ( ) YORK. I pray you, uncle, render me this dagger. RICHARD GLOUCESTER. My dagger, little cousin? With all my heart. ( ) John Jowett on ‘the formal Vice, Iniquity’: ‘The name is both apt to Richard and allusive, for the Vice is called Iniquity in Nice Wanton (licensed for print 1560) and Darius (printed 1565), and later in Jonson’s The Devil is an Ass (1616).’ (2000: 30)

3 Richard as Vice-like RICHARD GLOUCESTER. … And therefore since I cannot prove a lover To entertain these fair well-spoken days, I am determined to prove a villain And hate the idle pleasures of these days. Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous, By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams To set my brother Clarence and the King In deadly hate the one against the other. […] Dive, thoughts, down to my soul: here Clarence comes. ( )

4 Richard as Vice-like RICHARD GLOUCESTER. Was ever woman in this humour wooed? Was ever woman in this humour won? I’ll have her, but I will not keep her long. What, I that killed her husband and his father, To take her in her heart’s extremest hate, With curses in her mouth, tears in her eyes, The bleeding witness of my hatred by, Having God, her conscience, and these bars against me, And I nothing to back my suit withal But the plain devil and dissembling looks – And yet to win her, all the world to nothing? Ha! ( )

5 Richard as Vice-like Antony Sher, rehearsing for the role in 1983:
‘Who is Richard actually talking to in his early soliloquies? Bill’s [Bill Alexander, director] idea is rather brilliant: ‘He talks as if to an equal. Or perhaps just slightly down – he does have to explain things a bit, recap now and then. Think of the audience as a convention of trainee Richard the Thirds.’’ (1985: 177) RICHARD GLOUCESTER. I do the wrong, and first begin to brawl. The secret mischiefs that I set abroach I lay unto the grievous charge of others. […] I sigh, and with a piece of scripture Tell them that God bids us do good for evil; And thus I clothe my naked villainy With old odd ends, stol’n forth of Holy Writ, And seem a saint when most I play the devil. ( )

6 Antony Sher as Richard, RSC, 1984

7 Virtuoso game-playing
RICHARD GLOUCESTER. Because I cannot flatter and look fair, Smile in men’s faces, smooth, deceive, and cog, Duck with French nods and apish courtesy, I must be held a rancorous enemy. ( ) RICHARD GLOUCESTER. … Marked you not How that the guilty kindred of the Queen Looked pale, when they did hear of Clarence’ death? O, they did urge it still unto the King. God will revenge it. ( )

8 Virtuoso game-playing
RICHARD GLOUCESTER. [to Prince Edward] Sweet Prince, the untainted virtue of your years Hath not yet dived into the world’s deceit Nor more can you distinguish of a man Than of his outward show, which God he knows, Seldom or never jumpeth with the heart. Those uncles which you want were dangerous. Your grace attended to their sugared words, But looked not on the poison of their hearts. God keep you from them, and from such false friends. ( )

9 Humour BUCKINGHAM. My lord, what shall we do if we perceive Lord Hastings will not yield to our complots? RICHARD GLOUCESTER. Chop off his head. ( ) CATESBY. Here is the head of that ignoble traitor, The dangerous and unsuspected Hastings. RICHARD GLOUCESTER. So dear I loved the man that I must weep. ( )

10 Richard as Jester Jester as ‘corrupter of words’:
BRAKENBURY. With this, my lord, myself have nought to do. RICHARD GLOUCESTER. Naught to do with Mistress Shore? I tell thee, fellow: He that doth naught with her – excepting one – Were best he do it secretly alone. ( ) Mirror-scenes between Richard and Anne (1.2) and Richard and Elizabeth (4.4): both full of stichomythic exchange, ‘this keen encounter of our wits’ ( ). Does Richard or Elizabeth win the latter exchange?

11 Metatheatre Queen Margaret is constantly aware of the theatrical nature of the play she is in, describing its events as ‘this frantic play’ (4.4.68; ‘tragic play’ in Folio) and herself as ‘The flattering index [prologue] of a direful pageant’ (4.4.85). Statecraft as theatre? Thomas More’s History of Richard III, as printed in Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland (1587): ‘…these matters be kings’ games, as it were stage plays, and for the more part played upon scaffolds, in which poor men be but the lookers on.’

12 Statecraft as theatre Enter Richard Duke of Gloucester and the Duke of Buckingham in rotten armour, marvellous ill-favoured RICHARD GLOUCESTER. Come, cousin, canst thou quake and change thy colour? […] BUCKINGHAM. Tut, I can counterfeit the deep tragedian, Tremble and start at wagging of a straw, Speak, and look back, and pry on every side, Intending deep suspicion; ghastly looks Are at my service, like enforced smiles, And both are ready in their offices At any time to grace my stratagems. ( )

13 Statecraft as theatre The Mayor of London is the ‘audience’ for this piece of political theatre. What are the implications of this? MAYOR. …your good graces both have well proceeded, To warn false traitors from the like attempts. ( ) We see another ‘audience member’ in the following scene… SCRIVENER. Here is the indictment of the good Lord Hastings… […] Who is so gross That cannot see this palpable device? Yet who so bold but says he sees it not? ( )

14 The audience’s role in 3.7 RICHARD GLOUCESTER. How now, how now! What say the citizens? BUCKINGHAM. Now, by the holy mother of our Lord, The citizens are mum, say not a word. […] when mine oratory grew toward end, I bid them that did love their country’s good Cry ‘God save Richard, England’s royal king!’ RICHARD GLOUCESTER. And did they so? BUCKINGHAM. No, so God help me. They spake not a word, But, like dumb statues, or breathing stones, Stared each on other and looked deadly pale. […] RICHARD GLOUCESTER. What tongueless blocks were they! Would they not speak? ( )

15 The audience’s role in 3.7 How many citizens would there have been on stage, given that the cast numbered around 15? Richard enters ‘aloft’ in this scene – what are the implications of this? BUCKINGHAM. … we heartily solicit Your gracious self to take on you the charge And kingly government of this your land ( ) MAYOR. Do, good my lord; your citizens entreat you. BUCKINGHAM. Refuse not, mighty lord, this proffered love. CATESBY. O make them joyful: grant their lawful suit. ( )

16 3.7 at Shakespeare’s Globe, 2012

17 Machiavelli and statecraft
RICHARD OF GLOUCESTER. I can smile, and murder whiles I smile, … And set the murderous Machiavel to school. (3 Henry VI, ) Niccolò Machiavelli ( ) was an Italian philosopher whose works had been translated into English and read widely. In his most controversial work, Il Principe (The Prince), he argues that a prince, ‘especially a new one’, might be ‘forced, in order to maintain the state, to act contrary to faith, friendship, humanity, and religion’…

18 Machiavelli and statecraft
The Prince, Chapter 18, ‘Concerning The Way In Which Princes Should Keep Faith’: ‘Every one admits how praiseworthy it is in a prince to keep faith, and to live with integrity and not with craft. Nevertheless our experience has been that those princes who have done great things have held good faith of little account, and have known how to circumvent the intellect of men by craft. […] But it is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic, and to be a great pretender and dissembler. […] Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them. And I shall dare to say this also, that to have them and always to observe them is injurious, and that to appear to have them is useful; to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright, and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite.’

19 Machiavelli and statecraft
In England, the ‘machiavel’ became a recognisable stage type: Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta has ‘Machevill’ deliver a prologue in which he declares ‘religion but a childish toy’ (l. 14) and asserts the primacy of ‘might’ over law (l. 20). Jonathan Dollimore, however, argues that ‘[i]n fact, far from telling the rulers how to be more effectively tyrannical, Machiavelli was revealing to “those who are not in the know” the truth about how tyranny operates, especially at the level of ideological legitimation.’ (2010: 22)

20 Machiavelli and statecraft
RICHARD GLOUCESTER. Alas, why would you heap this care on me? I am unfit for state and majesty. I do beseech you, take it not amiss. I cannot, nor I will not, yield to you. BUCKINGHAM. […] well we know your tenderness of heart And gentle, kind, effeminate remorse, Which we have noted in you to your kindred, And equally indeed to all estates ( ) John Jowett argues that ‘[a]s performer, Richard has the appeal of letting us the audience in on the lofty workings of state, and showing us from a robustly mocking perspective that the great are paltry and weak. Whatever Richard does carries the implication that anyone sufficiently skilled could do the same.’ (2000: 32)

21 Sexuality and gender Margaret and the Duchess of York see straight through Richard from their first appearances. The play’s other women recognise him as a Vice before being ‘won over’: LADY ANNE. What black magician conjures up this fiend To stop devoted charitable deeds? […] What, do you tremble? Are you all afraid? Alas, I blame you not, for you are mortal, And mortal eyes cannot endure the devil. ( ) LADY ANNE. Within so small a time, my woman’s heart Grossly grew captive to his honey words And proved the subject of mine own soul’s curse ( )

22 Sexuality and gender How might we read Queen Elizabeth’s final exit?
QUEEN ELIZABETH. Shall I be tempted of the devil thus? KING RICHARD. Ay, if the devil tempt thee to do good. ( ) QUEEN ELIZABETH. I go. Write to me very shortly, And you shall understand from me her mind. ( )

23 Sexuality and gender Antony Sher: ‘Making Richard sexy seems to me the same as making him funny; it avoids the issue, avoids the pain.’ (1985: 158) John Manningham’s diary, 1602: ‘Upon a time when Burbage played Richard the Third there was a citizen grew so far in liking with him, that before she went from the play she appointed him to come that night unto her by the name of Richard the Third. Shakespeare, overhearing their conclusion, went before, was entertained and at his game ere Burbage came. Then message being brought that Richard the Third was at the door, Shakespeare caused return to be made that William the Conqueror was before Richard the Third.’

24 Audience complicity – or not?
RICHARD GLOUCESTER. The readiest way to make the wench amends Is to become her husband and her father, The which will I: not all so much for love, As for another secret close intent, By marrying her, which I must reach unto. ( )

25 Audience complicity – or not?
Buckingham starts to take over the audience’s role as chief accomplice in Act 3: Richard’s asides are to him rather than just to us as they ensnare Hastings in 3.4; Hastings, not Richard, gets the speech at the end of this scene. Richard turns on his new-found confidant in 4.2, revealing once again to us that ‘The deep-revolving, witty Buckingham / No more shall be the neighbour to my counsels’ ( ) before publicly breaking his complicity with Buckingham. Tellingly, though, it’s Buckingham rather than Richard who speaks to us at the end of this scene. Richard’s soliloquies become rarer and shorter as play continues: in fact his soliloquy in 4.3 is interrupted after just 8 lines…

26 Audience complicity – or not?
Antony Sher: ‘The consequences for the second half are valuable too. Gone are the soliloquies, the asides, the manipulations, the plottings, and Richard’s delight in all this. As King, the man becomes serious, paranoid, starts to disintegrate. Our run-through audience are dying to enjoy themselves like they did in Part One, but there are few opportunities. Their regret that it’s not as much fun as before is directly linked to Richard’s own sense of frustration and nostalgia for those joyous days. Events move nervously and horribly towards the inevitable end.’ (1985: 226)

27 Vice vs. Virtue? Richmond first appears in 5.2 with the line:
HENRY EARL OF RICHMOND. Fellows in arms, and my most loving friends… (5.2.1) Then, we get Richard’s first long soliloquy since Act 1: the ‘conscience’ speech (more of which later). Compare the two orations (which must be delivered to the audience): HENRY EARL OF RICHMOND. God and our good cause fight upon our side. ( )  KING RICHARD. Shall these enjoy our lands? Lie with our wives? Ravish our daughters? ( )

28 Vice vs. Virtue? In Steven Pimlott’s RSC production (1995), the battle was represented ‘as a contest of words’: ‘Richmond atop the gantry, triumphantly urging his men to great feats in the name of God, and Richard below, desperately attempting to inspire his demoralized troops, pouring scorn upon the opposing army.’ (Troughton 1998: 75-6) Bill Alexander’s 1984 production, meanwhile, was set in a cathedral: ‘The fact that the whole of the action was set in a cathedral made it fairly obvious that by parking Richard and his tent stage-right and Richmond and his tent stage-left simultaneously, we were in the setting of a medieval Mystery Play with heaven on one side and hell’s mouth on the other.’ (Alexander, quoted in Bate & Rasmussen 2008: 197)

29 Richard as Herod? Compare Richard’s raging at the messengers in 4.4?
Here Herod rages in the pageant, and in the street also (stage direction from Coventry Nativity play) Compare Richard’s raging at the messengers in 4.4? TYRREL. The tyrannous and bloody act is done – The most arch of piteous massacre That ever yet this land was guilty of. ( ) Jowett points out that the use of the word ‘babes’ to refer to the Princes throughout the play ‘allows correlation with the children aged two and under killed by Herod’ (2000: 293).

30 Conscience Conscience is also a stock character in morality plays, for example The World and the Child (1522), Three Ladies of London (1581), and Three Lords and Three Ladies of London (1588). The word chimes throughout the play… CLARENCE. Ah, Brakenbury, I have done these things, That now give evidence against my soul, For Edward’s sake; and see how he requites me. ( ) KING RICHARD. Conscience is but a word that cowards use, Devised at first to keep the strong in awe. Our strong arms be our conscience, swords our law. ( )

31 Conscience SECOND MURDERER. Nay, I pray thee. Stay a little. I hope this passionate humour of mine will change. It was wont to hold me but while one tells twenty. [He counts to twenty] FIRST MURDERER. How dost thou feel thyself now? SECOND MURDERER. Some certain dregs of conscience are yet within me. FIRST MURDERER. Remember our reward, when the deed’s done. SECOND MURDERER. ’Swounds, he dies. I had forgot the reward. FIRST MURDERER. Where’s thy conscience now? SECOND MURDERER. O, in the Duke of Gloucester’s purse. FIRST MURDERER. When he opens his purse to give us our reward, thy conscience flies out. SECOND MURDERER. ’Tis no matter. Let it go. There’s few or none will entertain it. (continued)

32 Conscience FIRST MURDERER. What if it come to thee again? SECOND MURDERER. I’ll not meddle with it. It makes a man a coward. A man cannot steal but it accuseth him. A man cannot swear but it checks him. A man cannot lie with his neighbour’s wife but it detects him. ’Tis a blushing, shamefaced spirit, that mutinies in a man’s bosom. […] FIRST MURDERER. ’Swounds, ’tis even now at my elbow, persuading me not to kill the Duke. ( ) Do these murderers owe something to the platea-like figures of the mystery plays? See, for example, the Wakefield Crucifixion play.

33 Richard’s conscience Richard as both protagonist and Vice of a morality play? More’s History of Richard III: ‘I have heard by credible report of such as were secret with his chamberlain that after this abominable deed done, he never had a quiet mind… He never thought himself sure. Where he went abroad, his eyes whirled about, his body privily fenced, his hand ever on his dagger… so was his restless heart continually tossed and tumbled with the tedious impression and stormy remembrance of his abominable deed.’

34 Richard’s conscience QUEEN MARGARET. … The worm of conscience still begnaw thy soul. Thy friends suspect for traitors while thou liv’st, And take deep traitors for thy dearest friends. No sleep close up that deadly eye of thine, Unless it be whilst some tormenting dream Affrights thee with a hell of ugly devils. ( ) KING RICHARD. My mind is changed, sir, my mind is changed. ( ; repetition only in Q)

35 Richard’s conscience KING RICHARD. O no, alas, I rather hate myself For hateful deeds committed by myself. I am a villain. Yet I lie: I am not. […] My conscience hath a thousand several tongues, And every tongue brings in a several tale, And every tale condemns me for a villain. […] I shall despair. There is no creature loves me, And if I die, no soul will pity me. ( )

36 Richard’s conscience Playing Richard in Pimlott’s 1995 production, David Troughton writes that he ‘needed the audience itself to become an actual character’: ‘a character which had the power to influence and affect the direction that Richard takes during his murderous assault on the English crown and, more especially, throughout the nightmare that follows his coronation, ending with the final confrontation of his Conscience speech.’ (1998: 89) Troughton describes this speech as ‘a stumbling block for any actor playing Richard III’: ‘There are two main problems to be solved. How can a totally evil character suddenly have a conscience and to whom is he talking?’ (1998: 95)

37 Richard’s conscience Troughton continues:
‘In our production… these difficulties never seemed part of the equation. Richard had already displayed an awareness of a “conscience” and had made quite clear that the audience was a theatrical extension of his own self, with whom he could converse at any point in the play. The whole speech, therefore, becomes the logical conclusion to all that has gone before … a direct confrontation with the audience, with Richard seated at the front of the stage, daring them to criticize the life that he has led. … They have laughed with him, gone along with him, been amazed by him and finally have separated from him, forming two halves of the same character.’ (1998: 95-6)

38 The Tragedy of Richard III?
Sher: ‘In several copies I’ve looked at it’s called The Tragedy of King Richard the Third. Yet a tradition has evolved of playing it as black comedy. I’ve never seen anyone play Richard’s pain, his anger, his bitterness, all of which is abundant in the text.’ (1985: 30)

39 References Bate, Jonathan & Rasmussen, Eric [eds] (2008) Richard III, Basingstoke: Macmillan. Dollimore, Jonathan (2010) Radical Tragedy: Religion, Ideology and Power in the Drama of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries, Reissued Third Edition, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Jowett, John (2000) ‘Introduction’ to Richard III, Oxford: O. U. P. Sher, Antony (1985) Year of the King: An Actor’s Diary and Sketchbook, London: Methuen. Troughton, David (1998) ‘Richard III’ in Robert Smallwood [ed.] Players of Shakespeare 4, 71–100.

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