The dictionary definition of a Machiavellian character is: Being or acting in accordance with the principles of government analyzed in Machiavelli’s The Prince, in which political expediency is placed above morality and the use of craft and deceit to maintain the authority and carry out the policies of a ruler is described. Machiavellian behaviour is characterized by subtle or unscrupulous cunning, deception, expediency, or dishonesty. The part in the play which I think epitomizes Richard’s Machiavellian character is his cunning plan to turn his two brothers, George Duke of Clarence and King Edward IV against each other.

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He does this by creating a completely bogus prophecy that the person who will kill the King, their name will start with the letter “G”. As Clarence’s name (George) starts with a “G” Edward has no choice but to send Clarence to the tower of London. The making of this rumour shows great expediency and cunning, not to mention dishonesty.

After a little bit of a push in the right direction from Richard, Edward IV sends out an execution order for Clarence. However Edward has a change of heart at the last minute and send out an order through Richard revoking the execution warrant.

However Richard in a show of great deception and dishonesty never passes on this message. This plan works really well and is shown in Clarence’s refusal to accept that he was betrayed by Richard: SECOND MURDERER You are deceived. Your brother Gloucester hates you.

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CLARENCE O, no, he loves me and holds me dear! ….. FIRST MURDERER … Come, you deceive yourself; ‘Tis he that sends us here to destroy you here. CLARENCE It cannot be, for he bewept my fortune, And hugged me in his arms, and swore with sobs

That he would labour my delivery. One Moment in the play where Richard shows much cunning and deceitfulness is in Act One where Richard is seducing Lady Anne the widow of the Prince of Lancaster. Richard says that he has never cried, not even at his father’s funeral but says that Anne’s refusal to marry him makes him cry. This makes Richard appear initially weak and that “Anne holds all the cards”. Richard then begs Anne to stab him “for I did kill King Henry”, “’twas I that stabbed young Edward”.

Anne cannot do it and Richard uses this very manipulatively. He says “Take upon this sword or take upon me”. As Anne cannot stab him she marries him. A part of the play where Richard is greatly manipulative in gaining support through fear is at a meeting with many people including Hastings and The Archbishop. Richard incensed by Hastings ignorance says “those who love me follow me, those that do not stay here”. Not wanting to stay with the doomed Hastings all stand and follow Richard.

After the beheading of Hastings, Richard had to persuade the Mayor of London that Hastings killing was justified. So Richard and Richmond dressed in rusty armour (Stage direction says; Enter Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and Buckingham, in rotten armour, marvellous ill-favoured). This cunning move makes him appear weak just like when he was seducing Anne where in actual fact it is Richard who holds all the cards. So therefore, in my interpretation of a Machiavellian character, Richard is a Machiavellian. Does he benefit from it?

I think that he does. Richard, a deformed man, can never exist in a peaceful world but on a battlefield is equal to any man. To gain this war Richard used Machiavellian “techniques/tactics” so that he could live. Without his Machiavellian side Richard probably would have stayed under his brother’s shadows, shunned by his mother.

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Richard Iii Machiavelli. (2019, Nov 27). Retrieved from

Richard Iii Machiavelli
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