King Richard Essay

1615 words - 7 pages

Draft Essay: King Richard III and Looking For Richard - Ambition and Identity

“A deeper understanding of ambition and identity emerges from pursuing the connections between King Richard III and Looking for Richard.” Compare how these texts explore ambition and identity.

By exploring the connections between Shakespeare’s play, King Richard III, and Al Pacino’s film, Looking for Richard, the understanding and interpretation of ambition and identity are trialled by the evolvement of context. Ambition refers to an aim one is attempting to achieve but can also be a desire for achievement typically involving action. Hence it serves as a product or a process. Both texts explore ambition as a ...view middle of the document...

He claims that his physical deformity is responsible for his lack of sexual attraction: ‘But I that am not shaped for sportive tricks/ Nor made to court an amorous looking glass… Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time/ Into this breathing world scarce half made up.’ The phrase ‘But I’ marks the point where Richard reveals his personal isolation and difference, presenting himself as an outsider hence making the audience complicit. His isolation is symbolic and suggests that since he does not fit in, he must act differently and hence he seeks higher status. This sets up the audience to sympathise and hence, attempt to understand his selfish ambition to become King. Richard’s deformity plays a prominent role in justifying his ambition. It could be a reflection of his inward corruption in the Elizabethan context or the cause of his motivation and evil, as he presents it. He admits: ‘Since I cannot prove a lover/I am determined to prove a villain/And hate the idle pleasures of these days.’ The pun on ‘determined’ is ambiguous and linked to the Elizabethan issue of determinism against the rise of human individualism however ‘to prove a villain’ confirms the resolute nature of Richard’s ambition, showing a desire rather than a force to be a villain. ‘Hate’ has connotations of despising peace and the conclusive tone of the quote is manipulative and definite in conveying Richard’s unwavering ambition. His confidence is admirable and hence manipulates the audience to sympathise with him.

Pacino, like Shakespeare, states his purpose initially however his ambition is community focused and reflects a cultural mission to share his passion for Shakespeare. Unlike Richard he seeks to offer an understanding of language and life; presenting others with the opportunity to discover about themselves and human nature. Similarly to Richard, he manipulates the audience through film techniques to strive towards his ambition: to make Shakespeare resonate with a contemporary audience. When Pacino explains the War of the Roses there is underscoring of non-digetic sounds of fighting, and fast cut images of medieval sketches of royalty, daggers and the crown, symbolic of the crux of the war. For the contemporary audience, it heightens the contextual significance of the violence and appeals to the understanding of our visual society. Pacino places immense emphasis on Richard’s deformity, another example of audience manipulation to achieve his ambition. In the opening soliloquy, when Pacino, playing Richard, says: ‘But I that am not made for sportive tricks’, the film immediately cuts to full-costumed Pacino in a dark space. The use of chiaroscuro creates awkward shadows on his face which visually represents Richard’s deformity. When Pacino says ‘deformed’, it is repeated several times accompanied by a pastiche of images of brutal deformities. By engaging the contemporary strength of visual interpretation, Pacino highlights the extent of Richard...

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