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Appearance vs Reality in Richard III and Macbeth

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Appearance vs. Reality

Subject: Literature


Inhaltsverzeichnis

1.          Introduction. 1

2.          Development 2

2.1.     Introduction of the main characters. 2

2.2.     Development of characters. 11

2.3.     Apparitions. 14

2.4.     Guiltiness. 15

3.          Conclusion. 18

4.          Works Cited: 19

1.          Introduction

  In this paper, we will deal with the topic of appearance vs. reality in Shakespeare’s plays Macbeth and Richard III. In order to undertake this task, we will analyze and compare both plays focusing on several aspects of them, for example, the rise and fall of the main characters, their development and the attitudes they have towards the different events in the play.

By writing this paper, we will intend to show the differences and similarities between these two pieces, how Macbeth’s fake attitude differs from Richard’s upfront behaviour will be the baseline of this paper from which the discussion of the chosen themes will derive.

  Before we analyse the aforementioned fields, it is necessary to highlight some aspects that are found in the plays so as to retrieve their contexts. In the first place, it can be seen that both Richard and Macbeth are skillful warriors, both burn with ambition to be king and willing to destroy those who stand between them and the throne or who threaten their security once they achieve the kingship. “Despite these similarities of goal and destructive motives these men share, there are important differences between them that distinguish the two as individuals”. (Hart, 1972, p.827)

  Macbeth is motivated by the desire to become king and ambition, that and nothing more. But Richard´s motivations seem more complex, though he is considerably less complex than Macbeth as a character. He wants to be king as well as him but that goal seems not so much an end in itself but it is his triumph over other power-hungry but  men whom he detests and to whom he feels, both inferior and superior at the same time.      He has not, as he himself acknowledges, ‘the social graces and personal charm to compete in the courtly pursuits of “this weak piping time of peace” (Shakespeare, Richard III, p.9)’ (Hart, 1972, p.197).

His body is “rudely stamped”, “not shaped for sportive tricks” (Shakespeare, Richard III,p. 9). But he is more ingenious than all the rest and courage to reach which seems unattainable. Thus, though he may have a body at which even the dogs bark, housed in that deformed body are an intellect and a nature able to convince and manipulate and of taking advantage over those who disdain him.  He takes great pleasure in his successful conspiracies; each victory delights him.

  Such is not the case with Macbeth. Never does he get excited about his successes; never does he feel more than momentary satisfaction in them. His are self-defeating triumphs driving him to consolidate his role as a tragic hero who declines from being an honorable soldier to a traitor. Richard’s, as opposed to Macbeth, are glorious achievements stimulating him to look for further challenges.

2.          Development

2.1.      Introduction of the main characters

  To begin with, we are going to compare how the main characters of the plays are introduced in order to show the differences between their personalities and their attitude towards life.

  Macbeth is introduced twice. The reason why he is first introduced by three witches and later by a captain may be that he tries to show two different personalities to the society where he belongs to. As regards Macbeth’s presentation by the witches, it can be stated that there is a dark aspect related to his character, since at that moment, witches and supernatural events were considered suspicious so Macbeth will be associated most probably with committing impure or bad intended acts.

The atmosphere of this introduction (thunder and lightning) can give the reader a hint that something terrible will happen later in the play. People related to witchcraft were heavily judged by the rest of the community because as witches were the instrument of the devil, having a connection with witches revealed that these individuals would probably perform an action w.....[read full text]

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At first sight, comparing the two descriptions, we reach to the conclusion that Richard is a villain, he is proud of fulfilling that role and he is not mentally affected by the role that he has chosen in his life. On the other side, Macbeth is portrayed as a hero but we know, if we consider the introduction of the witches he seems to be a hero who is tempted by them and induced to betray his values.

As the play develops, he emerges as a villain too.



Richard and Macbeth from other character’s perspective and their relationship with the audience

  In the beginning of both plays, the appreciation that some characters have of the main characters changes as the plays progresses. The characters seem to be loyal to the crown, supporters and friends but they end up betraying everyone. Their appearances disappoint all their allies.

  At first, we can reach the conclusion that Macbeth is a very successful and admired gentleman. He is part of an exclusive social group who profits from a lot of benefits than lower classes are not provided with. Macbeth proves his strength, loyalty and bravery after defeating the Irish invaders “Worthy Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure. (Shakespeare, Macbeth, p.14). It seems that he would die for the country that he is fighting for.

Macbeth

The service and the loyalty I owe,

In doing it, pays itself. Your Highness’ part

Is to receive our duties; and our duties

Are to your throne and state, children and servants,

Which do but what they should by doing every thing

Safe towards your love and honour.

(Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 1, sc 4)

  By analyzing how he interacts with Duncan, the king, we can state that Macbeth respects and supports him. The king trusts Macbeth completely and he does not suspect that he may attempt to commit any harmful act against him. “This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air, Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself, Unto our gentle senses.” (Shakespeare, Macbeth Act 1, sc 6)

  After his encounter with the witches and having invited the king to his castle, Macbeth is persuaded by Lady Macbeth and decides to kill Duncan while he sleeps, but he does not imagine that something like that could happen inside the castle of one of his most loyal warriors.  As regards the citizens’ point of view from the society where Macbeth belongs to, they consider that Macbeth is a hero whose fame in battlefields made him evolve into one of the most important members of that society.

He is also admired by their comrades. Their friendship and esteem are quite evident and he is supported by many of them. “Duncan, True, worthy Banquo; he is full so valiant, And in his commendations I am fed: It is a banquet to me. Let’s after him, Whose care is gone before to bid us welcome. It is a peerless kinsman.” (Shakespeare, Macbeth Act 1, sc 4)

  The relationship with Lady Macbeth seems to be very close and a relationship of complete trust. He tells her his plot in detail and seeks for her advice. Macbeth needs her, she is indispensable for him, a.....

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Macduff

Bleed, bleed, poor country!

Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure,

For goodness dare not check thee; wear thou thy wrongs,

The title is affeered. Fare thee well, lord;

I would not be the villain that thou think’st

For the whole space that’s in the tyrant’s grasp,

And the rich East to boot.

(Shakespeare, Macbeth Act 4, sc 3)


  The relationship with Lady Macbeth also changes abruptly, after his coronation; he decides to hide information about his plans from his wife. He does not tell her that he will send murderers to kill Banquo, and after that, their relationship is not as close as it was before killing the king. He decides to proceed alone.

  In the case of Richard, he is not seen as a villain as he describes himself. He is appreciated by his community, brothers, comrades, and friends. Being a duke is an honour and an exclusive place in the society, in this case, Richard is the duke of Gloucester and as a consequence of that, lower classes admire him and respect him because he is part of the royal family.

His brother Clarence believes that Richard is a very good brother and he trusts and feels a real affection for his younger brother.

Richard
Well, your impris.....

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(Shakespeare, Richard III, Act 1, sc 3)

   She desperately attempts to convince the king that he is not as a good brother as he seems. Unfortunately for her, Edward does not believe her and make a great effort to join Margaret with Richard. As the play develops, we are able to see mayor changes in the appreciation of these characters. To begin with, after being crowned as the new king, the society which admired him in the past, changes its mind and starts to feel that Richard is not a good king.

The citizens consider him as a tyrant and a homicide.

Third / First citizen

Third citizen: For emulation who shall now be nearest

Will touch us all too near if God prevent not

O, full of danger is the Duke of Gloucester,

And the Queen’s sons and brothers haught and proud,

And were they to be ruled, and not to rule,

This sickly land might solance as before.

First citizen: Come, come, we fear the worst. All will be well.

(Shakespeare, Richard III, Act 2, Scene 3)


  His brother Clarence realizes that Richard does not feel affection for him when the assassins that Richard hired, tell him that the one who ordered his assassination was his younger brother. Clarence feels deeply betrayed and confesses that he discovered his brother’s real identity too late.

Second murderer / Clarence

Second murderer: You are deceived. Your brother Gloucester hates

you.

Clarence: O no, he loves me, and he holds me dear…

…It cannot be, for he bewept my fortune,

And hugged me in his arms, and swore with sobs

That he would labor my delibery.

(Shakespeare, Richard III, Act 1, sc 4)



  After knowing that Richard is not going to give him the lands that he promised in the past, Buckingham, his loyal right-hand, regrets h.....

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At the end of the play, a great number of people who were supporters, comrades or even friends, go against Macbeth and Richard respectively because they are not righteous kings and as a consequence of that, they bring chaos to their countries. They are two ambitious men who in their attempt to become kings, they end up losing everything that they had, their family, their status in the society, their friends, and even their lives.


Malcolm

When I shall tread upon the tyrant’s head

Or wear it on my sword, yet my poor country

Shall have more vices than it had before,

More suffer, and more sundry ways than ever,

By him that shall succeed.

(Shakespeare, Macbeth Act 4 sc 3)


Richmond

A bloody tyrant and a homicide;

One raised in blood, and one in blood established;

One that made means to come by what he hath,

And slaughtered those that were the means to help

him;

A base foul stone, made precious by the foil

Of England’s chair, where he is falsely set;

One that hath ever been God’s enemy.

Then if you fight against God’s enemy,

God will, in justice, ward you as his soldiers.

If you do sweat to put a tyrant down,

You sleep in peace, the tyrant being slain.

If you do fight against your country’s foes,

Your country’s fat shall pay your pains the hire.

If you do fight in safeguard of your wives,

Your wives shall welcome home the conquerors.

If you do free your children from the sword,

Your children’s children quits in your age.

Then, in the name of God and all these rights,

Advance your standards; .....

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Although the relationship between the audience and these two characters is different, we end up knowing them in detail and realizing when they are lying, when they are being fake and when they are telling the truth.

2.2.      Development of characters

  The main characters of Macbeth and Richard III almost share the same pattern of development: The rise and fall of a great man, the rest of the play follows the disintegration of all they have achieved, a process which culminates with their deaths and the installment of new kings. Macbeth and Richard seem to be loyal and noble soldiers but the rest of the characters of these two plays learn that they cannot judge a book by looking at its cover.

  After being introduced by the three witches, the Scottish man is introduced again by his captain who informs the king that Macbeth and Banquo defeated two invading armies. The king is extremely pleased with his accomplishment and expresses his gratitude to him. Some time later, while Macbeth and Banquo are traveling, they encounter the witches previously mentioned.

They prophesy that Macbeth will be made first Thane and eventually King of Scotland and Banquo will beget a line of Scottish kings. Apparently Macbeth and Banquo do not believe in the witches, but then, Macbeth is informed that he has been named Thane of Cawdor. If we compare Banquo with Macbeth at the beginning, we conceive of them as equals, both leading Duncan’s army and fighting side by side.

Banquo’s personality and characteristics are very similar to the ones that Macbeth has, but when they both hear the witches’ prophecies they react differently. While Macbeth is blinded by his growing ambition, Banquo maintains his values and beliefs and does not succumb to temptation. Through this course of action, there is a visible and contrasting attitude to the same event, which will change later the relationship between these two characters.  After that, Macbeth tells his wife, Lady Macbeth, the encounter that he had with the witches and the prophecy about him.

She encourages Macbeth to kill the king because she is ambitious and she wants to be more powerful.  The king was there at their castle and she recommends him to kill the king while he is sleeping because it is the perfect occasion for committing that crime. He is convinced by his wife and stabs the king causing his death. As a consequence of the death of the king, his sons, Malcolm and Donalbain flee to England and Ireland and Macbeth is crowned king of Scotland.

Macbeth hires a group of assassins to kill Banquo and his son Fleance. These murderers accomplish the mission of killing Banquo but Fleance manages to escape from them. When Macbeth is at a banquet with some members of the Scottish nobility, Banquo’s ghost appears in front of him to torture him and to make him feel guilty. Following this incident, Macbeth requires to talk with the witches one more time because he supposes that his position a.....

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