In the Olden Days of Summer and Classic Literature


Cover of Shakespeares’s Richard III

It was a poetic summer for those preparing for English 2 advanced honors with Shakespeare’s Richard III, and the option to read one of Homer’s epics: The Iliad or The Odyssey.

Richard III focuses on Richard who desires to be king. The story takes readers through the means of how he obtains the crown and what happens in the result of said actions. I may not know much about Shakespeare, but I know he wrote these plays for the intent of an entertaining performance.

Therefore, only reading Shakespeare’s work puts readers at a disadvantage because passages and words may be mistranslated, due to the disparity between Shakesperian language versus modern language. Readers must infer or imagine the character expression more so in Shakespeare’s plays rather than reading most modern novels.

Fortunately, I had watched a mini-movie version of Richard III and I’m sure I’m wasn’t the only one to explore the web in hopes of gaining some amount of clarity on this novel.

Some passages required me to re-read it so I could translate it for myself, then analyze it. At most times, I was too focused on translation and neglected Shakespear’s message to the audience and its connection to modern politics.In the play, Richard is extremely ambitious and manipulates, deceives, and murders anyone who threatens his path to power. But what will become of Richard and his supporters once he has claimed the throne? It’s important to note that there was a power struggle in England long before Richard was born.

The dynasties of York and Lancaster had the same blood but were willing to shed it all in order to claim the throne they each felt belonged to them; which means a lot of violence, war, and mourning for both families.When the book begins, the York family has the throne due to the deaths of the Lancasterian king and his son.

Shakespeare uses very obvious foreshadowing to highlight the faults of Richard’s immoral ambition.  He exposes a dark perspective of the political world: using ambition to cheat your way to the top. He may be old, but his message in Richard III is relevant, a modern example of false ambition is the Nixon-Watergate Scandal.Nixon used aggressive campaign tactics to obtain the presidency. One night, members of CREEP snuck into the Watergate building to steal confidential records and place listening devices.   

Ironically, the listening devices weren’t working and they had to sneak into Watergate again to replace them, this alone foreshadows Nixon’s demise. When Nixon admits to abusing his power by recording tapes in the Oval Office then resigns in shame on  August 8, 1974.

     How much are politicians rivals willing to obtain the power they think they deserve? And are they getting there wholeheartedly?

     Next year, citizens of the United States will vote for who they think should be president, this story has definitely made me more cautious when observing political schemes because I– and many others– don’t want to be deceived by a person who has more power over us.

    Richard III was an entertaining story to read, and its relevance almost makes me want to read it again. But let’s not be too optimistic. Maybe next year…