To achieve goals, in one's life, one must be determined and focused. In the play Richard III, Richard III's goal is to ascend the throne. There are two ways that one can claim the throne, by birthright, or by might. Since Richard III cannot claim the throne by right he must therefore take it by might. To accomplish this goal Richard, Duke of Gloucester, must be determined to achieve his goal at all costs and he must have the characteristics to meet his determination. In the first scene of the play, Richard announces in a narration, his plan to become king.
Richard is truly a Machiavel. A Machiavel is "one who views politics as amoral and that any means, however unscrupulous, can justifiably be used to achieve power." Richard plainly states that he is 'Deformed, Unfinished, and sent before his time' and 'since he cannot prove to be a lover; he is determined to prove a villain'. As a villain Richard must be heartless; he cannot let his emotions interfere with his actions. He must also be intelligent and organized; a villain must know exactly what he has to do, when he has to do it and how he is going to do it.
'A villain must also be manipulative and persuasive so that if he is accused of a crime, or if he finds himself between a rock and a hard place, he is able to talk his way out or convince people that he did not commit the crimes in question. A villain must also have scapegoats to use if he is discovered or if he is in a dangerous situation'. Richard devised a brutal stratagem to ascend the English throne. Brilliantly, he executed his plan. Heartlessly, he executed family, friends, and subjects. Richard did indeed display these characteristics and, therefore, fulfilled his goal to ascend the throne.
With his elder brother, King Edward IV, dying, Richard believes himself to be the most qualified to rule. He sets his plan to ascend to the throne into action. The first step was to lock up the rightful heir, his other brother George, Duke of Clarence, in the tower. He demonstrates his manipulative skills and plants the seeds of distrust in his brother Clarence's head.
He tells Clarence that it is not the king that is locking him up in the tower, ''Tis not the king that sends you to the tower; My Lady Grey his wife, Clarence, 'tis she that tempers him to this extremity " he says. He then puts on a show; sobbing to Clarence in front of Brakenbury, telling Clarence ' I will deliver you, or else lie for you, ' a statement that turned out to be false. Instead of trying to deliver Clarence from the tower, Richard hires two murderers to kill Clarence. This plan was executed perfectly. His next step in his plan to claim the throne was to claim a bride.
He had one woman in mind; a widow named Anne Neville. Anne Neville was formerly married to Edward, Prince of Wales, Henry VI's son, both of whom Richard murdered. He stated that 'The readiest way to make the wench amends is to become her husband and her father'. He once more demonstrates his wonderful manipulative, and persuasive abilities to woo Anne to marry him. Total success once again, he marries Anne, notwithstanding the fact that he had murdered both her father and brother. When King Edward dies, Richard, Duke of Gloucester decides that he needs a scapegoat, so that if he should fail to execute the next steps in his plan, he will have someone to break his fall.
He employs the Duke of Buckingham, a powerful political ally. The next step in Richard's plan is to eliminate the family of the late king's wife, Queen Elizabeth, who naturally would prefer to see her sons, Prince Edward and Richard Duke of York, to ascend the throne. To discredit the two little princes, he circulates rumors that the sons of Queen Elizabeth are bastards, therefore, they cannot claim the throne. Richard III decides that the only way to make sure that the little princes cannot claim the throne is to eliminate them permanently. Richard decides that the most secure way to kill the princes is to become their most trusted friend. Richard therefore becomes 'Lord Protector' of the little princes.
Anxious to 'protect' his own interests, Richard imprisons them in the tower. The next step in his brilliant scheme is to increase public support for his own claim to the crown. Richard, aided by Buckingham, enacts shows of devotion, kindness, religiousness and other virtues, which recommend him to the citizenry and especially to the Lord Mayor and aldermen of London. This done, he finally wins the mayor and the alderman over and receives the offer to 'the supreme seat, the throne majestic al, the sceptered office of his ancestors themselves, the lineal glory of his royal house'.
After some false persuasion by the Duke of Buckingham, Richard finally accepts the 'golden yoke of sovereignty.' To secure his position further, he hires James Tyrell to 'terminate' the two princes in the tower. His wife Anne dies, so he then arranges to marry Princess Elizabeth, daughter of the former king, Edward IV. Since Richard has no more need for Buckingham, since the crown is secured. So he therefore 'terminates' Buckingham as well.
Many argue that Richard is not, however, that harsh a villain. Writer Catherine Dominic feels that not all of Richard's victims were innocent, they were hypocritical and were trying to use Richard. Richard is, simply, too clever to be outwitted. As a king, Richard did not succeed. He became overconfident, and sloppy. Richard thought that he did not need to protect himself from enemies since they were all dead.
He did not know that Stanley, whom he did trust, was defecting to Richmond, his bitter enemy. He became overconfident when the war came upon him and, in the end, he failed. As a villain Richard did succeed, he was heartless, intelligent, organized, manipulative and persuasive. He also had the perfect scapegoat; the Duke of Buckingham who was hard working, honest and loyal to the end. Richard did indeed display the properties of a perfect villain and therefore fulfilled his goal to ascend the throne. Without these resources Richard would not have a chance at the throne..