Addressing the Audience and Making History: Soliloquies in Richard III

HOPKINS, Lisa (2024). Addressing the Audience and Making History: Soliloquies in Richard III. Humanities, 13 (1): 24.

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Few plays make such varied or such bravura use of soliloquies as Shakespeare’s Richard III. The opening forty-one-line monologue by Richard himself allows an actor to show what he can do and to capture his audience and offers a view on processes of historical causation: having started with six uses of the word ‘our’, Richard not only moves on to say ‘I’ nine times (supplemented by ‘my’ and ‘me’), but also explains that his plans are going to affect the future of others, too. His plot to set his brothers against each other is going to change the course of history; moreover, it will do so by using the stalking-horse of a prophecy, a form of speech which presumes that the future is already unalterably fixed. Other soliloquies in the play also offer insights into historical process. This paper examines the differing tonality of the play’s soliloquies and the kind of information offered in them to argue that while Richard III officially subscribes to Tudor myths of the past, it not only implicitly urges the audience to a more sceptical take, but in fact raises questions about whether we can ever be sure about how history was made.

Item Type: Article
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Depositing User: Justine Gavin
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2024 14:45
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2024 14:45

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