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Thread: Richard III - standalone play?

  1. #1
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    Oct 2014

    Richard III - standalone play?

    I have the opportunity to see Richard III on stage, which I'd very much like to do. However, I know that Richard III is part of a series, and I don't have to read all the other plays before I go to see it. Would my experience of the play be very much marred by the unfamiliarity with the rest of the series, or would I have just as fine an experience?

  2. #2
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    May 2015
    Somehow is a historical tragedy as Julius Caesar, the sequence does not matter, Shakespeare wrote him between 1591-1592 before his Henriad sequence. So I think you can read it with no worries. It's a Macbeth without much sympathy.
    Last edited by Haran Alkarin; 07-29-2015 at 04:31 PM.

  3. #3
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Sep 2012
    Somewhere in the South East of England
    Richard III has always been a popular play - not all Shakespeare's plays have been. The history continues from Henry VI Part 3, which is usually regarded as a far less worthwhile play, although it has Richard as a character beginning his career of villainy.

    Rather than read Henry VI Parts 1, 2 or 3 you would be better off getting your heads round the history. There were two families descended from King Edward III, the house of York (of which Richard is a member) and the house of Lancaster (which had been pretty well wiped out, but is represented in the play by the Earl of Richmond, Henry Tudor, who defeats Richard at the end and becomes Henry VII, the grandfather of Elizabeth I who was reigning when the play was written).

    When the play opens Richard is the younger brother of Edward IV, who is the Yorkist king. His title is Duke of Gloster. In the first scene he meets Lady Anne, the widow of the last Lancastrian prince who is attending the coffin of her father-in-law, Henry VI, the last Lancastrian king, who according to Shakespeare, Richard has personally murdered. He woos her over the coffin. He goes on to arrange the death of his third brother, George Duke of Clarence. King Edward dies and Richard becomes guardian of his two young sons, who he proceeds to have murdered. He then gets himself made king.

    There is opposition from three women, who are the only ones who defy him, Elizabeth widow of Edward IV, Margaret widow of Henry VI and his mother the old Duchess of York.

    Eventually he loses the Battle of Bosworth Field and Henry Tudor becomes king.

    You can check all that on wikipedia. I hope I haven't confused you, but the play, which is not my personal favourite, remains popular because of the villainous energy of Richard himself.

    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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