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More disability in Richard the 3rd (And not just about Richard the 3rd)

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Hi everyone! I haven’t written for a while,and this may not be quite clear, but I want to take a stab out of this. I  really want to look at Act 1, scene 4 of Richard the 3rd, where Clarence is imprisoned in the tower, unaware that two men are about to murder him. They decide how they should kill him when Clarence wakes up, and pleads with the men not to kill him.

Cla. Not to relent, is beastly, sauage, diuellish:
My Friend, I spy some pitty in thy lookes:
O, if thine eye be not a Flatterer,
Come thou on my side, and intreate for mee,
A begging Prince, what begger pitties not
  2 Looke behinde you, my Lord
  1 Take that, and that, if all this will not do,
Stabs him.
Ile drowne you in the MalmeseyBut within.
 2 A bloody deed, and desperately dispatcht:
How faine (like Pilate) would I wash my hands
Of this most greeuous murther.

(Richard the Third, Act1, Scene 4)

I found this passage really interesting because when Clarence is about to be killed, he doesn’t believe that Richard was the one who sent the two men, and explained how loyal Richard was. Then, he degraded himself even more by comparing himself to a beggar, and then, the men killed him. Finally, one of the men told him to look the other way before he killed Clarence. I thought the man was saying it in a sympathetic way, because he knew he had to kill Clarence, but he didn’t want Clarence to see the violence he was about to commit. It’s like soothing a scared child so he’s not thinking about the shot the doctor has to give him.  Later on, Rivers is executed in another prison, and he and his relations did not say a whole lot before they die. Edward (the Prince of Wales), and his younger brother were killed in the tower. We don’t even hear what they said when they were killed.

To me,  I found a connection between the ones who are imprisoned in the play, with disabled people living in mental institutions (or other institutions for the disabled). Prisons have the same function. They separate and isolate people from society, and yes, can make some people lose their sanity. I think Shakespeare  reversed the role of disability by making the innocents the disabled. Yes, the innocents are technically notphysically disabled, but once environment is altered (putting them in prison and killing them), they do become disabled. The guard walking with Clarence to the tower at the beginning of the play represented one who was watching over someone who may be a potential harm to the King. Queen Elizabeth, Anne and the Duchess of York were forbidden to see the princes. As the play went on, the voices of these “innocent” characters decreased.  In a way, Richard became the nondisabled, killing off the innocent ones that he made disabled (by lies and manipulations).

What’s scary is that the characters really don’t have a say for their right to live. They’re murdered, just like that!  I connect it to the questions about whether it’s right to abort a disabled baby in a pregnacny screening or if it’s right to degrade someone based on their disability.

That’s how I thought about it, but what does everyone else think? Is Shakespeare really reversing roles to the innocent characters into disabled characters or not? Why do you think he is/is not doing it?

Written by library1288

September 14th, 2010 at 11:14 pm