A major organising metaphor for Richard III is the actor, together with play/audience. Obviously, the actor metaphor covers the manoeuvrings of the central figure. More than that, it structures the play. Richard III has two movements, the caesura occurring at Richard’s achievement of the crown; it is thus entirely satisfactory to account for the play, as does A. P. Rossiter, as a two-part structure of irony, ‘the basic pattern of retributive justice.’1 I want here to relate this account to the actor concept: the first half of Richard III describes an actor immersed in role-playing, the second half shows him confronting the realities from which his playing had excluded him.
KeywordsRetributive Justice Direct Address Strategic Ambiguity Dramatis Persona Aesthetic Phenomenon
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Richard III: Player and King
- 1.A. P. Rossiter, Angel With Horns (London, 1961 ) p. 2.Google Scholar
- 2.Nicholas Brooke, Shakespeare’s Early Tragedies (London, 1968) p. 56.Google Scholar
- 4.For a review of the rhetoric hereabouts, together with the interpretative possibilities, see Wolfgang Clemen, A Commentary on Shakespeare’s Richard III (London, 1968) pp. 3–4.Google Scholar
- 5.Susan Sontag, ‘Notes on Camp’, in Against Interpretation (New York, 1966) p. 277.Google Scholar
- 8.M. C. Bradbrook, The Rise of the Common Player (London, 1962 ) pp. 133–5.Google Scholar
- 10.John Palmer, Political Characters of Shakespeare (London, 1945) p. 88.Google Scholar
- 13.Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens (Boston, 1955) p. 40.Google Scholar
- 16.Emrys Jones, Scenic Form in Shakespeare (Oxford, 1971) p. 74.Google Scholar