One of the most fascinating characters that I came across during this class was Lady Anne from Richard the III. In one of my previous blog posts, I was confused by her “easily persuaded” nature. She enters the play in mourning, with such foul and bitter speech that she appears as anything less than weak. Her vehement hatred for Richard is shown through her indelicate language choices such as calling him a devil (1.2.50), a villain (1.2.70), and even insults his disfigurement, saying “thou lump of foul deformity” (1.2.57). Yet, within three pages, she is hinting at seeing him again (1.2.88), and even accepting his ring (1.2.190).
Even after reading the rest of the play, I still must claim either one of or both of two things: That Anne is merely an easily dominated character, or the Richard has a mysterious gift for persuasion. Each argument has its merits. As is seen in Act Four, Anne has come to recognize Richard as the villain she guessed him to be at first, wishing and imagining her crown to be burned into her brain (4.1.58-60). However, rather than committing suicide or even plotting Richard’s murder, she merely remains distraught in her situation and awaits the death that she knows Richard is planning for her: “Besides, he hates me…and will, no doubt, shortly be rid of me” (4.1.85-86). Anne has settled for her fate, and mirroring the mourning for her late husband in her first scene, in this scene she is mourning for her for her own soul: “Adieu, poor soul, that tak’st thy leave of it” (4.1.90).
At the same time in this scene, Anne blames her actions on Richard and his remarkable skills of persuasion: “Within so small a time, my woman’s heart Grossly grew captive to his honey words” (4.1.78-79). It seems as if even she is surprised by how quickly she gave in to him, much like Richard’s surprise in their first scene together: “But the plain devil and dissembling looks- And yet to win her, all the world to nothing? Ha!” (1.2.223-224). This statement reinforces that Richard is himself surprised by his qualities of persuasion.
As is seen throughout the play, whether Anne is easily lorded over or no, Richard demands power, using both persuasion and intimidation to get his way. Anne has a few fiery moments, but ends up merely as emotionally drained and battered, while Richard climbs higher and higher causing more and more destruction.