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Essay/Term paper: Richard iii

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Shakespeare

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Richard III

Michael Williams

In William Shakespeare's Richard III, we see Shakespeare's
interpretation of despot rule and the parallels that stem from this
interpretation. The character type of Richard has been examined and marveled
for thousands of years. From Plato's examination of despot rule in the
Republic, we see the motives of what drives despot rulers. A look at the
background of Richard and how his upbringing and personal life contributed to
his insecurities will help to understand why someone may become a despot. The
comparison of Adolf Hitler to that of Richard, shown by the modern motion
picture Richard III, will show the rapid rise and fall of the despot and the
reality of totalitarian rule.

Plato's Republic, a fascinating look at the comparison of the just soul
and the unjust soul, allows one to see the philosophical motives behind despot
rule. Despot rulers are simply driven by fear. Their anxieties and
insecurities lead to a hatred that has a desire to destroy, deep-rooted in
violence. Despot rulers are also never satisfied with the power they have at
any given time, thus exposing their constant fear of retaliation from their
subjects. This examination of the despot ruler by Plato clearly shows the
motives by which despot rulers rule, but it fails to explain why and how these
motives originate in the human mind.

In order to comprehend why such a high level of fear and insecurity can
be brought about, a look at the upbringing and personal life of Richard should
be brought into discussion. One of three brothers, Richard was in constant
competition of who would succeed in gaining the throne of England. Richard,
like his other brothers, wanted the title of king quite badly, but as time
pressed on it seemed less likely that Richard would succeed in gaining the
throne. His shrewd attitude and a physical deformity, that left him nearly
paralyzed, were two of the many reasons why Richard would be kept of the throne.
Richard quickly became aware of this and he therefore began his rampage to
insure himself the throne. After killing off his brothers and many others, who
were eligible to succeed, Richard finally became King of England. This title
did not bring comfort, and Richard continued to kill anybody who posed a threat
in keeping him from remaining king. Richard's reign as king lasted only two
years, and during this two year period Richard was never once happy, thus
showing how the unjust soul will never be happy. His insecurities and fears
worsened as he gained more and more power. This proves Plato's examination of
the unjust soul or the despot ruler. To understand why he became this way, one
must look at how his competitive nature was hindered by his deformities and how
he could not come to understand his disposition.

It is clear that the motion picture Richard III aims to exhibit a
parallel between the lives of Richard and Adolf Hitler, but why? The film aims
to show a universal theme: the reality of the despot ruler. Richard ruled over
England during the sixteenth century, a time when totalitarian rule was quite
prevalent. Hitler's rule however, took place in the twentieth century, which
seems quite amazing seeing how the ideas of liberty and justice had been
accepted by most western countries. What is more amazing is that Hitler was
able to gain so much power without military intervention by other countries. By
the time the allies decided to take a stand, Hitler's empire had conquered many
eastern European lands, and had occupation over France.

Therefore, rule by a despot is something we must always be aware of.
Though it is becoming harder to attain authoritarian rule because of
organizations such as the United Nations, one must never close our eyes to the
fact that man was given the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness. One also must never forget that government is meant to
preserve these rights, not to take them away. We must learn from history, not
forget about it. We must take into account the works of Plato and Shakespeare
and try to understand the motives of a despot and how they come about. If we
are able to do this our society, will eventually prevent totalitarian rule from
ever again occurring.


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