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Richard Iii's Winter of Discontent Speech Analysis

Essay by   •  April 29, 2013  •  Case Study  •  918 Words (4 Pages)  •  973 Views

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William Shakespeare's Richard III is a historical play that focuses on one of his most famous and complex villainous characters. Richard III or The Duke of Gloucester, who eventually becomes king, is ambitious, bitter, ugly and deformed. He manipulates and murders his way to the throne and sets the tone for the whole play with his very first speech, which is the opening of the play.

Richard opens with the lines "now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York, and all the clouds that loured upon our house in the deep bosom of the ocean buried" (1.1.1-4). These lines use the metaphor of changing seasons, winter signifying trouble and summer content, to show how his brother has laid to rest his family's problems. The second two lines explain that the "clouds' of trouble have been cleared and buried for good, signified by being buried deep within the ocean. Richard proceeds by explaining that arms and armor have been laid to rest and instead of battle cries, it is the romantic sounds of music that play in the kingdom. He says, "Now our brows bound with victorious wreaths, our bruised arms hung up for monuments, our stern alarums changed to merry meetings, our dreadful marches to delightful measures. Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrinkled front" (1.1.5-9).He continues explaining the current atmosphere of a peaceful kingdom with the lines, "and now, instead of mounted barbed steeds to fright the souls of fearful adversaries, he capers nimbly in a lady's chamber to the lascivious pleasing of a lute" (1.1.10-13). In lines 1-13, Richard is simply explaining how the kingdom had gone from war to peace and no longer do men have to worry about violence but can now relax with smiles and sex instead. It is not until line 14 that Richard starts revealing his own character and the villainy he will perpetuate throughout the entire play.

After Richard explains that peace has washed over the kingdom and everyone is content with their dancing, sex and leisure, he goes on to explain his own feelings on the matter, which reveals his bitterness. Richard says to us, "but I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks, nor made to court an amorous looking glass; I, that am rudely stamped, and want love's majesty to strut before a wanton ambling nymph; I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion, cheated of feature by dissembling nature, deformed, unfinished, sent before my time into this breathing world scarce half made up, and that so lamely and unfashionable that dogs bark at me as I halt by them" (1.1.14-23). These lines reveal that Richard is bitter of his deformity and ugliness. He feels cheated by nature and would like nothing more than to experience the love of a woman but has even been robbed of that by his cruel deformity. Perhaps if not for his deformity and ugliness, Richard could have been content in peace and leisure, curtailing him from

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