Kristie Kannaley
Dr. Botelho
Eng 4340
10 November 2009
Page/Stage/Screen Essay
In Act 2, Scene 1, King Henry is dead, and Lady Anne accompanies the entrance of the casket, mourning the loss of her husband as his murderer approaches. The rhetoric of the scene is established through strong binary oppositions that lead to the seduction of Lady Anne. As Richard describes Anne as a “sweet saint,” she responds by saying, “Foul devil, for God’s sake hence and trouble us not” (1.2.50). Richard’s enticement of Lady Anne begins with his initial address of her grace, and her opposition is made extremely clear. Shakespeare uses this as a basis and builds the power of the scene by increasing the curtness of the statements the character make toward each other and the irony of Richard’s charm. In producing this scene on stage or in film, it is necessary for the characters to be extremely aware of the verbal rhetoric. They must capture the enticing, seductive, and manipulative personality of Richard while holding strong to the ravenous anger and vulnerability of Lady Anne.

Although Lady Anne is vulnerable, she must display a front of anger. After all, several of her family members have been killed at the hands of Richard. She is mourning, yet she isat the same time when she declares, “Either heav’n with lightning strike the murderer dead,/ Or earth gape open wide and eat him quick” (1.2.64-65). Each time Richard makes a remark to curses, she retorts and claims that the opposite is true. I believe she should be portrayed very aggressively. It is no simple matter that she is calling him a devil and a beast. She even tells him to hang himself, after she begs the lord to take him from the earth.

Obviously, Richard has a lot of work to do if he hopes to seduce Lady Anne. Much of his process seems to be within the language, the actual words he uses and how he addresses her. The actors must make Richard seem both powerful and apologetic. If he oversteps his boundaries too quickly, he may lose her, so he must begin slowly. As she calls him “devil,” he calls her angel, setting the scene for flattery of her beauty and purity. After she claims he has no pity, he states, “More wonderful, when angels are so angry./ Vouchsafe, divine perfection of a woman,/ Of these supposed crimes to give me leave/ By circumstance but to acquit myself” (1.2.74-77). He begins his defense by praising her.

Once Richard has established an aggressive tone of flattery, he is confident enough to begin to deny his actions. Power rises through his defense of himself. He first defends his action by claiming that he has done a favor to God by sending Henry to Heaven. As he praises her husband, he begins to place the blame on Lady Anne and states, “Your beauty wast the cause of that accursed effect-/ Your beauty that did haunt me in my sleep/ To undertake the death of all the world/ So I might live one hour in your sweet bosom” (1.2.121-124). Although he is technically still complimenting Lady Anne, he is beginning to separate himself from his sin, and the actor must be able to portray his manipulative words in a tone of voice that expieates power and sympathy. He wants to gain control, but he does not want to lose her to her emotions toward the issue.
The ultimate power shift occurs near the end of the scene, when Richard offers Lady Anne his sword to murder him. He confesses his murder and basically prides at Lady Anne to back up what she has said so far. He says, “Lo, here I lend thee this sharp-pointed sword,/ Which if thou please to hide in this true breast/ And let the soul forth that adoreth thee,/ I lay it naked to the deadly stroke” (1.2.162-165). Within these lines, Richard is reaffirming his “love” for her, while at the same time claiming that she is the one who wants to commit murder. Completely caught within the web of manipulation, Lady Anne must either stick to her word and kill Richard or completely given into him. He is placing the decision upon her- if she kill him, will there be consequences, despite the revenge aspect of the scenario? But if she doesn’t kill him, she has allowed herself to be captured into his will. The complete power shift morphs the rest of the scene, as this pinnacle moment shows the viewer just how manipulative Richard can be.

Actors within a film must begin with the build-up to make the power-shift scene as monumental as it is in the actual written play. Al Pacino’s documentary film, Looking For Richard proves to be a fantastic display of the manipulation and fall of Lady Anne. She is a young woman in the movie, and I believe her age has an effect on the audience. Personally, I tend to sympathize more with a nieve, child-like character. Her youth makes her appear innocent and truly castes her in the role of the “gentle Lady Anne,” the “Sweet saint” that Richard so specifically describes her as within the written text. Our Lady Anne is also very spunky in this film version- you can see the anger in her eyes, the quick whit searing out from between her lips as she calls Richard viscious names and defends her right to seek revenge for her murdered family members.
At the same time, Richard appears to be a lot older than Lady Anne, which gives him the appearance of literally “preying” on her as he begins his speech of beguilement. He is absolutely charming, and the actress appears to be entertaining herself with his quick whit. She is pleased that she can respond to him so fiercely without having to think much, and it appears that is how he wants her to feel. He tears her down by building up her spirits and then asking her to solidify her statements through his murder. To do so, he must first give her to power, and appear to be reaching for far-off exuses, such as that Lady Margaret was the reason he committed the murder, or that her beauty in itself is responsible. After Richard builds and builds, he unexpectedly drops to his knees and hands her a sword. You can see Lady Anne’s surprise to the new ultimatum she has been given. It is a shock that she could have been so tricked into the situation, and she holds the sword like it is a foreign object. She is hesitant, and the audience can tell she is entirely uncomfortable as she gives in to Richard by refusing to finalize her claims of hatred.

I was able to watch this scene on stage as well as on the screen. Richard the Third was performed recently at the Shakespeare Tavern in Atlanta. In this production, Lady Anne seemed a bit older than the actor in the movie. Although I would have preferred to see a more vulnerable-looking Lady Anne, I still believe that the rhetoric within the actual words Shakespeare are the foundations to the power struggles within the scene. Like in the film, this Lady Anne did not seem like she would back down at the beginning of the scene. I think it would be difficult to speak the words on the page in an unaggressive or unconfident manner, since the names and accusations exchanges are so foul. Lady Anne seemed more mournful in this version of the play, and it would produced through more dramatic wailing. Richard sneaks into the scene almost comically; there is a tension within the audience, because they can sense he is going to do something immoral. Could he even “murder” Lady Anne?

Since the climatic moment of the scene occurs when Richard offers Lady Anne the sword, the actors really emphasized the difficulty of the situation. Lady Anne stands there for a moment, and then lightly places the sword to Richard’s chest. She appears almost calm and slightly mesmerized as the blood leaks down his chest. I am not entirely aware of how it was done, but I believe the actor had a type of package of fake blood attached to him that was pierced to leak onto his body. As an audience member, I was not expecting to see any gore within this scene, and it startled me to watch the bleeding Richard kneeling before Lady Anne. This is not something that can be seen on a page, and it was not included in the movie version either. I think it was an important part of the play, because it emphasized the climax of the scene and awakened any spacey audience members to the drama of the event that has just occurred.