chard II Richard III EssaysRichard III: The Power of Seduction
The word “seduce” according to Webster’s Dictionary means to “tempt and draw away from proper conduct.” This is exactly what Richard, Duke of Gloucester/King Richard III accomplishes in Richard III. In Richard’s life he does not only move from deformed “hedgehog” to husband, but from “beast” to King. One may ask how such deeds were performed. However, a second look may make the deeds look simple. Richard demonstrated a strong power of seduction throughout the play that not only seduced Lady Anne, but many others.
Richard’s first conquest by seduction was Lady Anne. In the passage where Anne accused Gloucter of being the cause of her husband’s death (I.ii.120-21), Gloucter replies not denying that he was the agent that caused the death. However, he follows by saying to Anne, “Your beauty was the cause of that effect” (I.ii.121). He continues using the excuse that her beauty caused everything. Finally, he actually admits that he killed Anne’s husband, but in the same breath he says she caused it. “I did kill King Henry–/but ’twas thy beauty that provoked me” (I.ii.179-80). This seemingly sick and twisted style of persuasion works in seducing the spitting Lady Anne into becoming his wife. Obviously, by Anne taking the same hand in marriage that killed her former husband; one can see that she was “drawn away from proper conduct.”
Rhe citizens were also seduced by Richard. However, in Act III.vii. his wits alone did not work the persuasion. He had help from the Bishops, props and Buchingham. The Mayor exclaims to the citizens,”See where his Grace stands, ‘tween two clergymen!” (III.vii.95). This is all part of Richard’s goodly act. He wants to win the people by being a noble and good man. He wants them to believe that he is not only a moral man, but a modest one. Buchingham proceeds in supporting Richard in this attempt. Buchingham observes Richard and states to the people:
Two props of virtue for a Christian prince,
To stay him from the fall o vanity;
And see, a book of prayer in his hands-
True ornaments to know a holy man. (III.vii.96-99).
Richard sways the citizens much differently than he persuaded Anne. He persuaded Anne by reminding her that his fault was caused by her beauty. One may say he was playing with her emotions. I suppose, the play on emotions is the similarity between these two acts of seductions. However, in the seducing of the citizens he played on their emotions in a different way, through modesty. After he was asked to become King he replies, “I am unfit for state and majesty” (III.vii.205). This makes them believe he does not want the position. Which, for anyone to decline the honor of becoming King is quite confusing. Therefore, they ask him again, finally he accepts. Besides this scene being a seduction through modesty, it is also satisfying for Richard. What more could he want? He has achieved King by the citizens groveling in his favor. The only thing he may like or want to do more is to kill. Ha.
This is only two examples of Richard’s great power of seduction, however, it is still very apparent that he achieves what he wants through this technique. Sure he kills, and cuts some heads off along the way, but if he seduced everyone in his favor and no action and murder occurred in the play then it would make to be pretty boring. King Richard was a great seducer.