TO PROVE A VILLAIN: EXAMINING THE TRUTHS AND INACCURACIES OF SHAKESPEARE'S RICHARD III
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractRichard III has gained a widespread reputation for his cruel and tyrannical rule. This image of Richard was popularized in Shakespeare's Richard III, which was based on heavily dramatized archetypes of the Elizabethan stage, such as the Vice and the Machiavel, and the Christian idea of physical deformity as a representation of innate evil. Shakespeare also relied heavily on biographies of Richard III written by Thomas More and Raphael Holinshed, both of which contained fictionalized and highly embellished accounts of Richard’s actions and personality as informed by the Tudor Myth and the Elizabethan trend of using history to represent Christian allegory. The Tudor Myth was a prevailing idea in Elizabethan England that emphasized the wickedness of Richard III’s rule and his evil nature. Ricardian scholars have disputed the crimes ascribed to Richard III for hundreds of years and recent scientific discoveries have led to the revelation that his only deformity was a case of scoliosis, yet the image of a tyrannical, crook-backed monster endures even today as the dominant depiction of Richard III. This thesis seeks to separate the truths of Richard III from the myths, using Shakespeare's Richard III as a point of comparison.