Essay Evaluating The Role Of Women In Richard Iii.

1327 words - 5 pages

In Shakespeare's Richard III, Women play an interesting role. On the surface, they can be considered powerless and unimportant - thought to do nothing but talk about and react to the actions of the men. But by going deeper and analyzing these interactions and reactions, we see a whole new perspective of the play. The women fit into a variety of female character Elizabethan stereotypes, but through analysis we discover they are more useful to the plot than they seem. Madonne M. Miner, author of the critical essay, "Neither Mother, Wife, nor England's Queen", addresses the women's role in Richard III and concludes that all the women are flat characters, but by doing so she limits the understanding of the affect they have on the audience's comprehension of the plot. The women of this play function as voices of protest and morality. Focusing on the men alone, the play would mostly be about political strategizing and power. Only when the women come into view do we really see the emotional reality and toll of this politically volatile situation.Madonne M. Miner addresses and analyzes the misogyny that occurs in Richard III. She critiques three aspects of the play: the interactions between Richard of Gloucester and the women, the interactions among the women themselves, the metaphors of birth and pregnancy and how they are used throughout the play. She uses these 3 categories to illustrate her point that all the women are completely powerless and are just used by men. She gives many examples of this. She gives the example of Richard's use of the women as scapegoats. She states that Richard continually blames women instead of accepting the guilt which is really his own. In Richard's soliloquy, "it is apparent that women are to blame for effacing the countenance of 'Grim-visaged War' and, immediately following the soliloquy, Richard explains to his brother Clarence that women are to blame for other things as well" (Miner 262). Although Richard openly says in his soliloquy that he planned the turmoil that would soon unfold, he places the blame on women. This is all true, Richard does use many of the women as blame for his terrible deeds, but only through the women's reaction can we see through his trickeries and predict possible consequences from his acts.Miner goes on to explain that Richard pushes his moral responsibility onto the women while simultaneously branding them as the "Other." Early in the play, Richard explains to Clarence that Elizabeth "tempts him [Edward] to this harsh extremity" (Shakespeare 1.1 65). Richard's accusation "also tends to unite the two brothers against an intruder (the sister-in-law, the 'Other')" (Miner 262). The women in the play are considered the outsiders and are neglected to be seen as important to the plot.Elizabeth is not the only woman who receives Richard's unfair blame. Richard deems Anne the one responsible for the deaths of her late husband and father-in-law. Miner explains the meaning behind Richard's...

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