13. Were the Elizabethans more bloodthirsty or tol

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13. Were the Elizabethans more bloodthirsty or tolerant of
violence on stage than we are? In addition to the visible
bloodletting, there is endless discussion of past gory deeds. Offstage
violence is even brought into view in the form of a severed head. It's
almost as though such over-exposure is designed to make it ordinary.
At the same time, consider the basic topic of the play, the usurpation
of the crown of England and its consequences. These are dramatic
events. They can support the highly charged atmosphere of bloody
actions on stage as well as off. By witnessing Clarence's murder,
which has been carefully set up, we develop a greater revulsion for
its instigator. And even though we are spared the sight of the slaying
of the young princes in the Tower, Richard's involvement before and
after is carefully exploited. Every drop of blood referred to on stage
or in the speeches helps build the effect Shakespeare wishes to
achieve. The peace which comes after Richard's death is both a
relief and a reward.
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14. The Elizabethan audience knew from the start that Richmond was
to become Henry VII, the first Tudor king of England and the
grandfather of their own queen, Elizabeth I. As such, he had only to
appear victorious at the play's conclusion. By the time he shows up,
matters have progressed to a point where Richard's downfall is
inevitable. But what good would victory be if the opposition had
merely caved in? Shakespeare had to build Richmond's importance not
only to satisfy history but to fulfill the dramatic development of the
plot. By sprinkling his name into the preceding scenes, Shakespeare
makes Richmond's arrival a matter of importance. Once Richmond appears on stage, he never makes a false step or says the wrong thing. If
his dialogue sounds slightly flat, it may be a deliberate contrast
to that of the fiery, passionate Richard. Here is a man of reason
who makes his mark with heroic action rather than words. In the duel
scene, Richmond has an opportunity to achieve the stature denied him
in speech. ...

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