Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 2

HSC Advanced English, Module A: Richard III and Looking For Richard, Essay

Connections of commonality and dissimilarity may be drawn between a multiplicity of texts through an appreciation
of the values and attitudes with which they were composed. Accordingly, the values and attitudes of the individual
being may be defined as an acute blend of externally induced, or contextual and internally triggered, or inherent
factors. Cultural, historical, political, religious and social influences, dictated by the nature of ones surroundings,
imprint a variable pattern of values and attitudes upon the individual. Thus any deviation in any such factor may
instigate an alteration of the contextual component of ones perspective. By contrast, the psychological
fundamentals of humanity are sturdy and whilst they partake in the definition of the values and attitudes of the
individual, they are unwavering. Shakespeares historical play Richard III and Pacinos docudrama Looking for
Richard confirm such theory through an exploration of the contextual and inherent. A scrutiny of the contradictory
forces of humanism and determinism and the function of women as demonstrated by both texts imparts an
incongruity of context. Difference is thus conveyed. Conversely, an acknowledgement of the strength of conscience
common to both texts suggests an inherent influence. Thus it is through inspection of the prescribed texts that one
may distinguish the degree to which the texts converge on inherent matters and diverge on contextual matters.
The contradictory forces of humanism and determinism form a connecting point of intrigue common to
Shakespeares Richard III and Pacinos Looking for Richard. Influenced by shifting components of cultural and
historical contexts, a difference may be perceived in the professed relationship between the two. Inspired by a
cultural renaissance, Shakespeares text is responsive of an existent tension between the highly structured and
preset theory of determinism and an emerging intellectual interest in humanism. Reiterated by historically
endorsed values such as the great chain of being and supported by institutions of power, determinism is favoured
from the outset of the play. This derives from the play as a recount of historical events with a known outcome and a
medium for propaganda in support of the monarchy, an avid determinist. Nevertheless, the aforementioned tension
is prevalent throughout and epitomised by the paradoxical pun I am determined to prove a villain. Uttered with a
tone of poise and self-assuredness, the term determined implies a conscious statement of purpose and a
preordained villainy. Thus Richard is aligned with the stock character of the Vice, an instrument of predestination,
and the innovative Machiavel, an advocator of humanism. Despite this, the ultimate decline of Richard is
consequential of the reign of determinism. The directly antithetic correctio I am a villain. Yet I lie, I am not yields
an implicit self-doubt and acknowledgment of an inability to fulfil his humanist purpose. Providentialism thus
displays precedence over self-determination. This is in direct contrast to Pacinos docudrama, composed for a
secular modern American audience disengaged with traditional notions of determinism. A greatly diminished and
altered portrayal of Margaret, the primary instrument of determinism in the play, is expressive of this. Pacino
devalues her curses by reducing her to a sort of ghost of the past. A frenzied montage of informative discourse
and the activity of the play complete with frantic cuts, climactic discordant music and the demeanour of Margaret
the juxtaposition of screams and whispers, turbulent facial expression and loose hair complete a picture of
insanity. This therefore undermines the force of determinism.
The function of women defined by the prescribed texts yields a dissimilar connection and this derives from altered
historical and cultural contexts. Fostered by a society denoted by patriarchy and a traditional appreciation for
determinism, the role of women within Shakespeares text is twofold; assistance in the representation of Richard as
intrinsically evil and an endorsement of Richard as a predetermined villain fated to fall. This function, however, is
not in balance; patriarchy weakens the former and a customary appreciation of determinism strengthens the latter.
Therefore women as the mouthpiece of determinism may be perceived in a common lamentation colloquially
regarded as the scene of the wailing queens. A pattern of anaphora and epistrophe initiated by Margaret I had
an Edward, till a Richard killed him; I had a husband, till a Richard killed him is evidence of this. Repetition of
clause acts as a persistent reminder of the severity of Richards crimes and strengthens invocations to follow.
Conversely, Pacino fortifies the first of the aforementioned functions. A social, political and economic empowerment
of women, coupled with growing secularism allows Pacino to exploit Richards misogynistic treatment of women as
confirmation of his innately evil nature. This role is achieved through an effective filmic representation of Richards
pursuit of Anne. A pastiche of slowed film and non-diegetic music serves as effective; consecutive close-ups of
Richards contorted face are juxtaposed with long shots of a small and vulnerable Anne and a crescendo of
discordant operatic music coupled with a repetitive voice-over selecting appropriate quotes such as Ill have her
but I will not keep her long serves to reduce Richard to lowly predator. Pacino furthermore selects a young actress
and omits the stichomythic discourse between Richard and Anne prior to this in an effort to validate Annes
willingness to marry in such circumstances.
An acknowledgement of the strength of conscience common to Shakespeares Richard III and Pacinos Looking for
Richard grants a connection. This therefore pertains to an inherent constituent of the values and attitudes of the
individual and is time enduring. A point of conflict, however, exists in its source; the Elizabethan context alleges a
religious duty whilst the dominant modern American audience attributes a secular moral responsibility. Driven by a
protestant pre-occupation with morality and conscience, Shakespeares text defines Richard as an amoral
character; one without morals and thus without conscience. Richard is therefore aligned with the antichrist; the
gravity of his crimes elevated to an unprecedented high. Nevertheless, conscience as a supreme power is
examined in the discourse between the first and second murderers of Clarence. The second murderer disregards
his conscience to commit the crime despite extensive interior debate. Having executed Clarence expresses his
regret; How fain, like Pilate, would I wash my hands of this most grievous murder. This biblical allusion, uttered
with a tone of despair, serves to align the murderer with Pilate, the immoral and therefore, having conscience,
inherently good, Clarence with Christ, the sacrificial Lamb of God and Richard with Judas, the amoral and innately
evil. Pacinos representation of this scene suggests a common acknowledgement of the strength of conscience.

Juxtaposed with the Kings attempt to unite the feuding families, the scene offers a direct contrast between the
consequences of yielding to ones conscience, implied by ample lighting and non-diegetic music of a major key,
and ignoring ones conscience, suggested by limited lighting and non-diegetic music of a minor key. Therefore, the
action of ignoring ones conscience is perceived to be perilous, with negative implications for the individual and
society as a whole. This aligns with a timeless recognition of the strength of the human conscience common to
both texts.