The irony of this is that Richard, who is disabled, does stumble, and Clarence’s dream prophesised that he would be taken down by his own brother, which eventually happens. This would have an impact on the amount of sympathy created as an audience may ridicule the lack of intelligence of Clarence, who should have seen his dream as a warning, but still decided to stay with his treacherous brother. Shakespeare makes Clarence go as far as prophesising the deaths of many other men, although he does not think anything of it.
Another irony that Shakespeare uses is when Clarence says the line ‘I am a Christian faithful man’, after having stabbed the Prince of Wales, for ‘twitting him (Clarence) with perjury’. Shakespeare emphasises the fact that there is no hope anymore, in the line by Clarence ‘great anchors… all scatt’red in the bottom of the sea’. This may not be obvious to all readers, although an anchor, being a sign of hope, being lost shows that in those times, hope was a thing of the past due to the murderous happenings of Richard among others.
There are many references to religious language, as with above, making an audience feel pitiful towards the victims, as they are in need of God at such bad times. One line of Clarence’s speech which will not only bring pathos, but admiration from the audience is, ‘O, spare my guiltless wife and my poor children! ‘ Both of these emotions may be felt as the audience see that he is a man devoted to his family, unlike his brother, who is only there to benefit himself. The audience would admire how he asks for forgiveness, so that his family do not suffer.
Lady Anne is also another character who is seen to suffer in Shakespeare’s play. We are reminded of the terrible loss that Anne is confronted with; her husband, Edward, who was killed by Richard himself during the civil war: ‘wife to thy Edward, to thy slaughtered son’. Automatically a great deal of sympathy is felt as, for any person, the loss of a partner is a tragic event, and the fact that the murder of Edward is present also creates pathos, and Shakespeare engages the audience by the use of a rhetorical questions;
Was ever woman in this humour woo’d? Was ever woman in this humour won? I’ll have her; but I will not keep her long. Sympathy is created for Lady Anne as Richard has acknowledged and made clear to the audience that she, after helping him fulfil his task of becoming King, shall be dead. The fact that Richard makes the audience aware of his plan only during his soliloquy, not whilst talking to anyone, creates sympathy for Lady Anne and all of his other victims as it highlights his wickedness.
Throughout Act one Scene two, Richard attempts to ‘flirt’ with Lady Anne: ‘Thy beauty hath, and made them (eyes) blind with weeping’ and eventually leads to her accepting his offer of marriage. On the one hand, this causes the audience to lose sympathy for Anne, as she shows that she is incapable of seeing how Richard is manipulating and using her to get to the throne. Moreover, the audience won’t feel sympathy towards her as she is able to betray Edward so quickly by marrying his murderer.
On the other hand, the audience may instead sympathise with Anne, as she is effectively being tricked by Richard, who is very good with words and is able to ‘turn on his charm’, exploiting Anne’s naivety in her time of loss, ‘Your beauty, which did haunt me in my sleep to undertake the death of all the world so I might rest one hour in your sweet bosom. ‘ Quotations such as these may persuade Anne into thinking Richard really loves her, despite the fact the audience know that the only reason Richard wants her hand in marriage is to get closer to taking the throne.
Anne does gain sympathy later on in the play, as she finds out that not only is her second marriage dull and uninteresting, but also her husband wants to kill her, to allow him to marry his own niece. Shakespeare, by doing this, makes the audience feel sympathetic towards Lady Anne, and pity her dismal life. Another of Richard’s victims is Buckingham. Throughout the majority of the play, Buckingham has been Richards’s strongest and most loyal supporter, and therefore most closely linked in an audience’s mind with Richard.
If he had remained with Richard at the end of the play, the audience would have no reason to feel any kind of sympathy towards him whatsoever. Out of all acts he and Richard commit, the worst is potentially their involvement in the unjust murder of the two princes in the tower: ‘my lord, whoever journeys to the prince, for god sake let not us two stay at home; for by way I’ll sort occasion as index to the story we late talk’d of, to part the queen’s proud kindred from the prince. ‘
Due to this, there is hardly any sympathy created as a 21st century audience would not be in favour of Richard coming to the throne as they know about the extent of his evil, although it is conceivable that a Tudor audience would applaud his devious yet cunning strategies. Buckingham in many ways is compelled to do the ‘dirty’ work of Richard. This obvious evil creates no sympathy for Buckingham and an audience may even find it difficult to differentiate Buckingham from Richard in terms of who is the greater danger, as Buckingham is also partly responsible for the many atrocities that Richard plans.
Buckingham shows a similarly deceiving side as Richard: ‘tut, fear not. I can counterfeit the deep tragedian’. The audience may link this evilness to that of Richard’s, and consequently, Buckingham becomes even less pathetic. However Buckingham realises he cannot kill the princes himself, perhaps by a change in conscience. Buckingham is less merciless than Richard, which is shown in this quotation: ‘Some little breath, some pause, dear lord, before I positively speak in this. I will resolve you herein presently.
‘ Buckingham has been instructed to kill the princes by Richard (another example of Richard ordering Buckingham to do his dirty work), but this quotation shows he is unable to bring himself to commit such an atrocity. The audience will feel some pity for Buckingham as he is compelled to do this work, but his conscience does not permit it, in the process showing that Buckingham cannot actually kill innocent people, and him keeping the princes alive will be received much better by an audience.
He then clearly begins to understand the evilness of Richard and the errors of supporting him: ‘Rewards he my true service, with such deep contempt? Made I him king for this. ‘ Ironically, this is where Buckingham really feels sympathy for himself. By changing sides and being willing to die in order to defeat a tyrant, Buckingham shows tremendous courage to firstly accept death, but then to switch sides and consequently, the audience feel much sympathy for him when he eventually dies.
The sympathy felt by the audience will definitely be limited as he helped Richard to get into such a powerful position, so it is unlikely that the audience will feel very sympathetic as he wrote his own ending but firstly getting Richard to the throne, as then changing sides, and by doing so, signed his own death warrant. The victims who would receive the most sympathy from an audience, who had fallen to Richards’s regime, were the two young princes. Unlike their father and uncle, they are completely innocent of any crime, but could potentially pose a threat to Richard in future years.
Shakespeare creates sympathy for Edward by showing his fear of the tower: ‘ an if they live, I hope I need not fear but come, my lord; with a heavy heart, thinking on them, go I unto the tower. ‘ Shakespeare wants to convey to the audience that the country loses a very important figure, maybe in years to come, when Edward dies. The Duke of York shows courage and intelligence in his ability to mock Richard, ‘you mean, to bear me, not to bear with me. Uncle, my brother mock both you and me; because that I am little, like an ape, he thinks that you should bear me on your shoulders.
‘ From this we see that the princes have done nothing wrong and have been brutally massacred and therefore only pathos can be felt for them. They are the only characters in my view, about whom such a statement can be said. Both a 16th Century audience and a 21st Century audience would feel sympathy for the princes as the older of the two, Prince Edward, knows that both his, and his younger brother’s lives will come to an end shortly. In conclusion, I believe that Shakespeare’s aim of attracting audience sympathy for some of the characters is very successful.
As Richard’s plans to become king were put in place as soon as he thought fit, the audience would feel great amounts of sympathy for the other characters as they were merely pawns in Richard’s game of chess, and they were destined to be killed in his quest for sovereignty. Shakespeare effectively writes a thrilling plot involving intrigue, murder, jealousy and fear. The theme is effectively portrayed to show that the mightiest can be brought down by the quest for power and ambition.
It is obvious to any reader of the Quarto version of the play that the play will evoke emotions such as pity amongst others, as from the title page, we are told that the play is a tragedy. This suggests at the outset that Richard falls from greatness due to a flaw in character, and then words like ‘treacherous, pitiful and tyrannical’ show the audience what to expect from Richard, so that even before the start of the play, Shakespeare engages the audience to feel hatred towards Richard.
The excellent use of confidential soliloquy after each crime, gives the audience more and more evidence that Richard is the most calculating of fiends, being brilliant at fooling, and seducing his victims. This also has the effect of drawing the audience into complicity with his wicked schemes and unsettling the audience as they become unwitting conspirators who are the only ones privy to his evil plans, hence `leading them to feel sympathy towards his victims.
In my opinion, the clever use of plot, the theme, the choice of characters and the language used, has made the play into an excellent piece of work, as evidenced by the continuing enjoyment by audiences today.