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A STEP BEYOND
TESTS AND ANSWERS
_____ 1. In his opening soliloquy, Richard complains that the king is too involved with love-making to pursue the more important activity of
B. waging war
C. foreign trade
B. pass as common soldiers
C. deceive the Lord Mayor
B. Lady Anne's revelation before her coronation
C. the Duchess of York's description of his childhood
B. Hastings' head
C. his own sword
B. tells the council he has been bewitched
C. enlists Buckingham on his side
B. Queen Margaret
C. King Edward IV
B. "I'll have this crown of mine cut from my shoulders / Before I'll see the crown so foul misplaced."
C. "Bad is the world, and all will come to nought / When such ill dealing must be seen in thought."
B. Richmond's sweet dream is Richard's nightmare.
C. All Queen Elizabeth's children are murdered in the play.
11. What is Shakespeare's view of women in this play?
12. Discuss the importance of religion in Richard III.
13. What role does violence play in the unraveling of the drama?
14. How well does Richmond fulfill the role of "hero"?
_____ 1. Before he dies, King Edward IV makes peace between
B. Hastings and Rivers
C. Buckingham and Stanley
B. Queen Margaret
C. Queen Elizabeth
B. a pair of bleeding hearts
C. two white doves
B. names of their executioners?
C. method of execution?
B. Henry VI
C. Henry VII
B. Lord Chamberlain
C. Mayor of London
B. Catesby deserted Richard during the final battle.
C. Richard claimed to prefer making war to making love.
B. the young Duke of York
C. the Marquess of Dorset
B. good wishes
B. "O, do not slander him for he is kind."
C. "I shall be reconciled to him again."
11. What is the role of ambition in Buckingham's downfall?
12. Is Richard's physical deformity really the handicap he claims it to be?
13. How do Margaret and Richard differ in their use of direct speeches to the audience?
14. Was Stanley, the Earl of Derby, a traitor? Justify your answer.
11. You must separate the two attitudes- Richard's and Shakespeare's. Richard repeatedly shows the same contempt for women that he does for anyone who gets in his way. To serve his purposes, he exploits what he sees as their "feminine weaknesses." Afterwards he sneers at them.
It might seem that Shakespeare has the same view until you consider Richard's character. Could the playwright possibly agree with someone he depicts as such an outrageous villain? Even though Shakespeare appears to accept the common attitude toward the natural order- that women's proper role was as wives and mothers- he gives the women in this play an added dimension. They are strong, courageous and intelligent. One of the playwright's great talents lies in his providing the language for them to speak clearly. Look at how he uses Queen Margaret as a foil for Richard. Look at the Duchess of York's ordeals and her perseverance. And note Queen Elizabeth's ability to withstand the pressure of his proxy courtship of her daughter.
Shakespeare was not a revolutionary. Note the absence of women as "common folks" in this play. But he shows a broader outlook than might be expected for his time. Examination of this play may show you signs of creeping "liberalism," if not liberation.
12. Consider several approaches to religion, starting with Richard's rejection of religion's power over him. He claims he is above God's law. In the course of his pursuits, he mocks religion while exploiting it at the same time. Just when he is about to commit his most serious political crime, he wraps himself in a cloak of holiness, between two priests. And how he must laugh at the Bishop who surrenders so easily to Buckingham's absurd argument to remove the young prince from the sanctuary. Richard scorns religion constantly, but turns to it the moment he dreams of impending doom. This mighty villain suddenly quakes before the thought of God's vengeance. And ultimately he pays for his abuse of God's laws. While he may temporarily function as an instrument of divine retribution, dealing out justice to previous usurpers of the throne of "God's anointed," it is his enemy, Richmond, who triumphantly represents the moral, religious force of opposition.
13. Were the Elizabethans more bloodthirsty or tolerant of violence on stage than we are? In addition to the visible bloodletting, there is endless discussion of past gory deeds. Offstage violence is even brought into view in the form of a severed head. It's almost as though such over-exposure is designed to make it ordinary. At the same time, consider the basic topic of the play, the usurpation of the crown of England and its consequences. These are dramatic events. They can support the highly charged atmosphere of bloody actions on stage as well as off. By witnessing Clarence's murder, which has been carefully set up, we develop a greater revulsion for its instigator. And even though we are spared the sight of the slaying of the young princes in the Tower, Richard's involvement before and after is carefully exploited. Every drop of blood referred to on stage or in the speeches helps build the effect Shakespeare wishes to achieve. The peace which comes after Richard's death is both a relief and a reward.
14. The Elizabethan audience knew from the start that Richmond was to become Henry VII, the first Tudor king of England and the grandfather of their own queen, Elizabeth I. As such, he had only to appear victorious at the play's conclusion. By the time he shows up, matters have progressed to a point where Richard's downfall is inevitable. But what good would victory be if the opposition had merely caved in? Shakespeare had to build Richmond's importance not only to satisfy history but to fulfill the dramatic development of the plot. By sprinkling his name into the preceding scenes, Shakespeare makes Richmond's arrival a matter of importance. Once Richmond appears on stage, he never makes a false step or says the wrong thing. If his dialogue sounds slightly flat, it may be a deliberate contrast to that of the fiery, passionate Richard. Here is a man of reason who makes his mark with heroic action rather than words. In the duel scene, Richmond has an opportunity to achieve the stature denied him in speech.
11. From the start, Buckingham is only too willing to provide his support for Richard's schemes. He immediately allies himself with Richard by scorning his exemption from Margaret's curse. From then on, he willingly shares the risk for his share of the spoils. Remember, patronage is an important issue. During Edward IV's reign, Queen Elizabeth saw to it that her relatives and supporters were taken care of. Buckingham saw Richard as his key to prosperity. His insistence on his reward in the face of his hesitation to participate in the killing of the princes leads to his loss of Richard's trust- and to his final destiny.
12. The actor playing the role of Richard must have great strength to endure the demands of being on stage in so many different situations and for such a long time. But what of the character Richard? Could he have been the successful warrior he is credited with being in the past if he were seriously crippled? Could he have performed the physical demands required by the battle in the final scenes? If he is "unhorsed," surely he is capable of riding. And what about his rapid, sudden turns throughout the play? Review the physical action that must accompany so much of his dialogue and see if you think his deformity was as much a handicap as a convenient excuse. The judgment of Hastings is one place where he certainly exploits it, but see if you can find others.
13. From the beginning, Richard develops an intimate association with the audience as he shares his innermost thoughts. Couched as a sort of "confessional," he confides that he is going to behave wickedly. As such, he virtually invites the audience to come along with him as he proceeds with his business. Periodically, he reviews and recaptures that spirit. Margaret, on the other hand, treats the audience as more of a witness than a partner. She speaks less in soliloquies than in choral recitations. Because so much of Margaret's presence is a symbolic as well as an actual reminder of past events, she is less involved in the action. Her power rests mainly in her ability to witness the past and predict the future. Those on stage may choose to ignore her, but those out front cannot.
14. Stanley walks a narrow line throughout the play. Although an easy answer might be that he never actually did anything to oppose Richard, wasn't his act of withholding support just as harmful? This is how Richard saw things when he ordered George Stanley to be beheaded. But can you accept Richard's judgment? Stanley, more than any other, represents the middle road, or at least a firm commitment to neutrality. Some may find his professed loyalty to Richard and secret meeting with Richmond enough to condemn him as a traitor. Others may find him the victim of a conscience that allows him to make no open choice. Remember the Stanley who dreamed of impending disaster? Contrast him with the hasty, naive Hastings.
TERM PAPER IDEAS AND OTHER TOPICS FOR WRITING
© Copyright 1985 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.