Comparative study of texts and contexts (King Richard III and Looking for Richard)

Essay by alysemayHigh School, 12th gradeB-, August 2014

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Context influences the representation of values in a text and can shape the meaning to become more relevant. This is shown through the texts 'Richard III' by William Shakespeare and 'Looking for Richard' by Al Pacino. The different values held in society in the times these texts were created have a strong impact on the way they were written. The idea of divine order and justice was prominent in the time Shakespeare wrote the play, while the modern day re-interpretation of the original focuses on a psychological viewpoint and free will to appeal to the modern day audience. Divine order and justice was a strong belief in the Elizabethan era and this value is shown throughout Richard III to be the main reason for Richards Machiavellian nature and moral corruption. The context of the time this play was written meant Shakespeare dramatized and twisted historical events, as well as Richards's deformities to please the Queen, as her ancestors were Lancaster's, while Richard was a York.

This appeal to the high power meant Richards's deformity was emphasized in the opening scene of the play 'Cheated of feature by disassembling nature'. This descriptive imagery of his deformity associates him with evil and villainy due to the Elizabethan beliefs. The divine order is further explored in the opening soliloquy when Richard states 'that dogs bark at me as I halt by them', which places him lower down than dogs on the great chain of being. Richard's opening soliloquy continues to include the audience in his plans to 'prove a villain' and exposes how he intends to do this. Through this use of soliloquy Richards duplicitous nature is revealed and this creates dramatic irony throughout the play and conflicts with the way he acts around other characters, he later says...