In Richard III, Shakespeare invites us on moral holiday. The early part of the play draws its readres to identify with Richard and thereby to participate in a fanatasy of total control of self and domination of others. We begin to be pulled into the fanatasy in the play’s opening speech, where richard presents himself as an enterprising, self made villian and offers an elabrote justification for this self he renovation. The average reader is indulged in this fanatsy He then confides to us his plans to dispose of the first victim, his brother
Clarence, who is already being taken to prison as a result of Richard’s plots. Clarence’s imprisonment serves as immediate confirmation of Richard’s sure power over others. Richard decieves Clarence into beliecving that Richard is his ally; in case we were misled along with clarence, Richard achieves similiar success in conquering the woman with whom he chooses to ally himself in mariage. His utter mastery of the political arena continues long into the play assassination and summary execution of this rivals. t Richard’s advances is not wholly without resistance, which appears most threatingly in the person of Queen Margaret, widow of Henry the VI, the king whom Richard killed before this play begin. With a will as strong as Richard’s and a keen appetite for vengeance, Margaret issues a stream of curses, and manages, in spite of Richard’s efforts, to curse Richard too. The Further we proceed into the play, the greater the number of characters who recall how margret cursed them as they go to their deaths at Richard’s hands.
As his patterrn bulids, it begins to seem more and more inevitable that all curses may come true-including her curse on Richard himself. The more clear this pattern becomes, the more the play works to direct our sympathies away from Richard. His supporters desert him: his victims pile up. His fantasy of utter control of himself and domination of others crumbles. In this world of moral holiday, audience fantasy may begin to sharein his desire for vengeance voiced by Margaret as Richard is presented increasingly as the monstrous and hideous villian that he is.