Richard III was made to look like a villain by Shakespeare, mainly by increasing the hump on his right shoulder and other nasty characteristics. However, what was his motive for this? Was it just because he could make a good story from it, or was it more personal than that?

  • 4
    Literary criticism ain’t history. Jun 1 '20 at 10:10
  • 1
    Richard was "crooked"/"crouchback" and probably compensated against this with clever ruses such as clothes, etc. While it wasn't often mentioned by contemporaries (one source did mention this), then that was the medical assessment from his skeleton when it was found in 2012. [Source: Alison Weir's 'Elizabeth of York' (which doesn't actually cover Elizabeth at all, but there's plenty on Richard)]
    – gktscrk
    Jun 1 '20 at 10:13
  • @SamuelRussell This shows that it is a critical part of the times Jun 1 '20 at 10:14
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    Isn't this covered in the Wikipedia article about the play? Jun 1 '20 at 10:15
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    @SamuelRussell Historical fiction seems in scope to the extent the work is intended to influence people's view of history. Shakespeare had a certain propaganda angle in mind, but then so did Macaulay, or Gibbon. The question here is an historiography question, not a literary criticism question.
    – C Monsour
    Jun 1 '20 at 11:29

Shakespeare regularly performed his plays to the sovereign. Elizabeth I was the grandchild of Henry Tudor, who deposed Richard III.

If Henry VII is good, Richard III must be bad.

In Macbeth, Banquo is a goody because he's the ancestor of James VI & I, who was then king.

  • 1
    Shakespeare writing Richard III as a villain should be no more surprising than an American screenwriter hyping Benedict Arnold as a villain. You don't need to explain it as pandering to the ruling party. It's what the audience would expect and it's what the screenwriter would have learned in school. And after all, what Shakespeare cared about was having a good villain to chew the scenery, not the truth of the matter. Jun 2 '20 at 16:20
  • That's the same as what I said. The rebels as opposed to loyalists are the ruling party. And there's the added fact that Shakespeare personally acted some of the parts in front of the king/Queen
    – Ne Mo
    Jun 4 '20 at 12:56

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