Study Guide

Richard III Manipulation

By William Shakespeare


Manipulation greases the wheels of Richard III. Richard is constantly manipulating characters around him in an acrobatic performance of subtlety and wordplay. Richard's skill at manipulating everyone around him is key to his success.  It also increases our begrudging admiration of him, even though it's pretty clear that he manipulates us, his audience, as well.  By letting us in on the secret details of his scheming, he creates an atmosphere of complicity.

Richard's manipulative tactics also keep the play lively, and the skill with which they're executed keep us on his side throughout most of the play. It's like looking inside an incredibly artful machine.

Questions About Manipulation

  1. In what ways does Richard manipulate the audience? 
  2. How is it, exactly, that Richard succeeds in wooing lady Anne (over the corpse of her dead-father-in-law)? 
  3. Is Buckingham a victim of Richard's manipulation, or does he get what he deserves?
  4. What is it that makes Richard such a master manipulator?

Chew on This

By making the audience members his confidants at the beginning of the play, Richard manipulates us just as he manipulates the characters around him. 

Richard is able to manipulate everyone around him because he's a good actor, has strong rhetorical skills, and can think on his feet.