Richard IIITitle: Richard III

Author: William Shakespeare

Date Finished: 23/02/13

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : Yes – The Classics Club 

Overall: 4/5 – rather good

Finishing and enjoying this book has made me feel rather proud of myself!  From what I’ve heard, it is quite a long Shakespeare, it is a history (my first) and it is one that I had absolutely no idea of the story of before.  Therefore, I am proud because it is the first Shakespeare I’ve ever read without knowing the story beforehand.  I was kind of apprehensive, as I thought I wouldn’t be able to understand the language etc but I am really happy with this read – looking forward to seeing the performance in March now.

The plot in Richard III is quite exaggerated from the historically accurate version, but it is gripping and shocking nevertheless.  Obviously, with it being a Shakespeare drama, everything is quite over the top and I don’t think I have ever read about more murders within 100 pages in my life!  I read the first half of this book over the time I was in Uganda, which is quite impressive too, as I didn’t really have much time for reading – a bit on the plane and then a page or two in the evenings.  The plot wasn’t too hard to follow, but I didn’t get bogged down with trying to understand every little thing – when I see the play, I will really get everything.

The characters are obviously quite numerous and confusing, with this being a history.  There are lots of different Lords, Dukes etc etc and I spent a lot of the time thinking ‘Richmond’ was Henry VII’s actual name and not where he was earl of!  Never mind – it doesn’t really matter if I make small mistakes here and there!  Richard was obviously very evil and manipulative, but it did seem a little too easy for him to manipulate some characters in the story, most notably Anne!

The language of Shakespeare is always challenging, but not too bad (as I have now realised).  I enjoy the drama format with speech and stage directions although sometimes it feels a bit unnatural to have the descriptive passages verbalised as speech by a character.
The setting of England isn’t really described as much as some of the other plays I have read/seen – Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in particular seem to focus more heavily on the scene around them, but this wasn’t a problem.

Overall, I can’t say that I loved this story, however I definitely did enjoy it and I am very much looking forward to seeing it in Bristol in a few weeks times.  Has anyone else read/seen this play?