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Richard is difficult to understand psychologically because while he is clearly pwer-hungry and sadistic the deep-rooted motivations for his malevolent hatred are hard to pinpoint Some critics feel that Richard is not really a fully developed character in the way that Shakespeares later characters such as Macbeth or Hamlet are Such critics argue that Richard does not possess a complex human psychology but instead recalls a stock character from early medieval drama Like the Vice character of medieval morality pageants who simply represented the evil in man Richard does not justify his villainyhe is simply bad Indeed Richard with self-conscious theatricality compares himself to this standard character when he says Thus like the formal Vice Iniquity I moralize two meanings in one word IIIi8283 We should note that the mere fact that he reflects upon his similarity to the Vice figure suggests that there is more to him than this mere resemblance Watching Richards character Shakespeares audiences also would have thought of the Machiavel the archetype of the scandalously amoral power-hungry ruler that had been made famous by the Renaissance Italian writer Niccol Machiavelli in The Prince first published in 1532 Bloody though he was nevertheless the historical King Richard III was not necessarily more murderous than the kings who preceded or succeeded him Nor is it likely that he was deformed as Shakespeare portrays him Winners not losers write history When Shakespeare wrote this play Queen Elizabeth I ruled England Elizabeth was a descendant of King Henry VII the ruler who overthrew Richard Thus the official party line of the Elizabethan era was that Richard was a monster who was not a legitimate ruler of England It would have been thoroughly dangerous for Shakespeare to suggest otherwise For a number of decades in the late fifteenth century Englands royal family was locked in a power struggle that periodically erupted into violence Historians have labeled this battle the Wars of the Roses
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