March 29, 2001
Richard III Letter
I spoke to Angela last week. She told me that you were having a hard time in our Shakespeare class. She also mentioned that you were depressed because you just broke up with your boyfriend Richard. I decided to write you a letter hoping to share my thoughts with you on your breakup with Richard, and at the same time, discuss our next play in class--Richard III.
Why? I felt horrible at the thought of your becoming insane from seeing and hearing the name Richard throughout our week-long class discussion of Shakespeare’s play. Also, I consider you my kindred spirit because we have some similar characteristics. For example, I am very smart, and you are semi-smart. I suffer permanently from major depression, and you are temporarily depressed from your recent breakup with “you-know-who.”
So, knowing that your state of mind was very fragile at this time, I felt an overwhelming obligation to attempt to soften your reading journey while you mended your broken heart.
My first thoughts regarding the play centered upon how Shakespeare’s Richard III is a lot like your Richard. Richard III, in his opening soliloquy, admits to being ugly and deformed.
“But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking glass;
I, that am rudely stamped, and want love’s majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling Nature,
Deformed, unfinished, spent before time
Into this breathing world scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them--” (I, i, 14-23)
I remember your telling me that Richard, too, was not a good-looking guy.
“He’s damned ugly, he looks deformed. He walks around with his shirt hanging out of his pants to hide his watermelon-looking belly,” you said, as you extended your arms in front of you making a large circle with hands clasped.
Your arm gesture created in my mind an image of, well, me. For a moment, I thought you were making fun of my body, until Richard came upon us, and you introduced him to me. In my own mind, I readily agreed with your assessment.
Later, when I asked you why you were in love with Richard, you said, “Because he lets me use his MasterCard, and he thinks I’m Da Bomb Diggity.” You further stated that since Richard worked as the lead pan-puller at your hometown’s only pizza parlor, you could get free pizza any day of the week. But what made you love him the most was his ambition. You told me that his dream was to be the chief pan-puller, and that he would stop at nothing until he got the red baseball cap--the official designation of a chief pan-puller.
I remember also one of our conversations when you said that Richard had deceived the parlor manager by sabotaging the work of other employees--applying too much grease to the pulling-pliers so that the other employees dropped the pizzas, or turning up the fire on the oven so that the others would burn their hands while reaching up to get the next pizza.
“Richard finally got his red baseball cap because he carried out all his machinations,” you said. I will never forget the look on your face after you told me the news about Richard. You showed concern for all the other employees Richard had gotten rid of by implementing his evil ways.
In Shakespeare’s play, Richard III is the consummate deceiver and is just as ambitious and evil as Richard. Richard III, however, kills anyone who stands in the way of his coveted crown. There seems to be a definite likeness between the two Richards.
Marisa, I am glad you broke up with Richard. He is not your type. You deserve better; but more importantly, you deserve not to see or hear his name mentioned.
The things you said to Richard when you broke up with him sounded a lot like what Queen Margaret said in the play to Richard III,
“The worm of conscience still begnaw thy soul!
Thy friends suspect for traitors while thou liv’st,
And take deep traitors for thy dearest friends!
No sleep close up that deadly eye of thine,
Unless it be while some tormenting dream
Affrights thee with a hell of ugly devils!
Thou elvish-marked, abortive, rooting hog,
Thou that wast sealed in thy nativity
The slave of nature and the son of hell!
Thou slander of thy heavy mother’s womb,
Thou loathed issue of thy father’s loins,
Thou rag of honor, thou detested-- (I, iii, 222-233)
But Marisa, Queen Margaret’s words were much nicer than yours.
I hope you feel better.