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Paper Topic:

Compare how Shakespeare portrayed Elizabeth Woodville in his play `Richard III` to how she was in real life


2005 Introduction

Elizabeth Woodville was one of those personalities who considerably influenced historical events , but she was such a contradictory woman that historians and presented ambiguous portrayals of Woodville in their works . Although William Shakespeare made an attempt to adhere to truthful representation of characters in his historical plays , the dramatist underestimated the role of Elizabeth Woodville in the history of Great Britain . In his play Richard III Shakespeare showed Woodville in the background of the

occurred political and social events of the fifteenth century , paying more attention to such male characters as Richard III , Buckingham and Henry VII . But in real life this strong and beautiful female occupied the central position on the political arena Thus , the aim of this research is to compare a historical figure of Elizabeth Woodville with William Shakespeare 's prototype Elizabeth in the play Richard III

Elizabeth Woodville and Shakespeare 's character

Elizabeth Woodville 's life began to attract attention of historians and since her marriage to Edward IV , a royal member of York dynasty who became the king of Britain after the prolonged Wars of Roses (Pollard 17-21 . Edward IV was overwhelmed by Woodville 's charm and willpower , and he proposed her to marry him at Grafton Regis , despite the fact that this marriage was opposed both by his brother Richard and the followers of Edward . When Richard started a secret struggle against Edward IV , it was Elizabeth Woodville who managed to solve the conflict and improve the relations between the royal families of Lancaster and York . In the play Richard III Shakespeare presents Elizabeth as a brave and sympathetic woman who makes everything to save her children , as well as her position . Adhering to a rather dramatic portrayal of Elizabeth the dramatist reveals Woodville 's wit when the Queen manages to establish marriage of her daughter with the Earl of Richmond , the representative of Lancaster family , in to prevent Richard from taking control over her and her family . Shakespeare demonstrates that although she fails to save her husband Edward IV , she nevertheless succeeds in strengthening Britain

In real life Elizabeth Woodville seized the opportunity of her marriage to Edward IV to help her relatives acquire appropriate places in the British court . In particular , her brothers managed to get appropriate titles and her sisters managed to marry persons of noble birth . However , Elizabeth went beyond these arrangements , increasing her social and political power that became an open threat to Richard the Duke of Gloucester , Edward 's brother and Earl of Warwick . Such power and strong position of Elizabeth aroused suspicion in her enemies who usually regarded Woodville as a witch . But in reality it was her intelligence that raised Elizabeth above other people , as well as her ability to withstand all difficulties . When Elizabeth 's first husband Sir John Grey , died during the Battle of St . Albans , Elizabeth remained with two children Thomas and Richard and...

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