A Love Affair With Perversion


Having seen Richard III performed by the Shakespeare company, I can now say that I am a very big fan of this play. Initially when I actually read it, I absolutely hated it because I found it to be boring partially because of the length and partially because I didn’t read it with a translation and therefor found myself not understanding most of it. (Not to mention I read the whole thing in six hours, which is quite a feat in my opinion.) I found it to be stereotypical of Shakespeare’s writing and far too lengthy to properly enjoy.

With that said, actually seeing the play performed on stage, my perspective has altered entirely–Shakespeare’s plays truly were meant to be watched and not read. I found that I thoroughly understood and enjoyed the play upon this viewing, and in a sick, twisted way fell completely in love with Richard III himself.

I think this new found passion for this murderous, perverse villain largely comes from the fact that I would argue that something about other people’s pain, and something about the wickedness of villains is addicting. I found that I was enraptured with Richard from the moment he opened with the famous soliloquy “Now is the winter of our discontent. . .” and from that point on was strangely attracted to this evil being. This attraction wasn’t in spite of his villainy–it was because of this villainy that I found myself mesmerized with Richard–the more murders he committed and the more twisted he became, the more I was seduced by his dangerous charm and carelessness for the value of human lives.

Thus, through this play, I discovered a world which we all live in at some point or another, yet are perhaps too embarrassed to admit to–a guilty pleasure. A thrilling escape; the world of being romanced by the perversions of others. In this case, I was charmed into seduction by Richard’s perverse mind and persona. I found  him to be very raw in his desires, and there was something disgustingly erotic about Richard as a person. It is not so hard to believe that he was able to seduce Anne after the death of her husband, for he was so revoltingly alluring.

When I went home after watching this play, I couldn’t stop thinking about why Richard, despite being grotesque in both form and mind, was able to make the audience fall in love lust with him. I have come to the conclusion that part of the charm with Richard was in fact, his disfigured form–this speaks to the idea that other’s perversions can be enticing to us for purely the thrill of getting to be part of that perverseness, if even for a very short time and indirectly, in the case of the audience viewing the play. Something about watching a (I would argue) psychopath is incredibly thrilling, for he took pleasure in the pain and death he inflicted upon others which is oddly exciting in a way, for we love to watch others do the things that we’d love to do but never could. Something about the idea of getting pleasure from other’s pain is disgustingly alluring in the sense that you are in complete control and have all the power and everyone is merely just a piece on your chessboard–they must do anything you say.

There is something very attractive about having a love affair with something perverse. I suppose people always want what is wrong for themselves simply because it is wrong–like reverse psychology. I loved how irrevocably and unequivocally bad Richard was. There is also something very alluring about charming men doing bad things–at least to me.

I can honestly say that this is probably my favourite Shakespearean play after seeing it live, and Richard III will be a character that I’m not sure I could ever forget. For that reason I think I will always melt at least a little when I revisit this play and this particular character.

Richard III

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

3 thoughts on “A Love Affair With Perversion

  1. Dear Hope,

    I really enjoyed what you thought about seeing Richard III, how your perspective changed when you read it compared to when you saw it, was interesting. I remember when we started to talk about Richard III in class how you, from the beginning, told us that you were not a fan of this play. I do agree though – Shakespeare’s plays are mostly meant to be seen and not just read. Having seen it before I had the chance to read Richard III, I don’ think I would find this play as captivating as it was on stage; there was an element in seeing the play that made it easier to interpret and understand, and therefore more entertaining.

    You have an amazing insight into Richard’s character, and from an interesting perspective; my favourite part of your blog was reading about why collectively we tend to associate with or form a bond with the most perverse, revolting characters. I found it really interesting and had never really thought about it before. You couldn’t have stated this better when you said that it “wasn’t in spite of his villainy–it was because of this villainy” that we associate and bond with these characters. I have found that in movies or other novels, I tend to sympathize with the character that fits the villain archetype; their ability to do what we are afraid to do and to showcase their flaws is enchanting and somehow validating. They satisfy a deeper, bad, more erotic part of ourselves that is socially unacceptable to show. When we know something is wrong and yet we continue to watch others do it, there is a sense of power or control associated with it, and so much so that we become submissive to it. It is, as you said in your writing, a guilty pleasure.

    Your ability to express what you feel in words is incredible – some of the phrases that you used to explain why we bond with villains, such as guilty pleasure, were just perfect – I could not have thought of a better way to say it. The only suggestion that I would have for this blog is to re-read it, there was just one part where it said “therefor” instead of “therefore.”

    I truly enjoyed reading your blog, you always have something different to say and I really appreciated that you took the time to write about this topic on your blog. It gave me a better understanding of the characterization of Richard and how it personally affected you. I could relate to it in the sense that, though I have not read a lot of Shakespeare’s plays, I know I don’t always enjoy or comprehend all parts of it, but seeing them live truly helps in this understanding.

    I can’t wait to read another one of your pieces,

    – Shyla

  2. Dear Hoppie,

    It was a pleasure reading this post. I agree with you; there is something so ravishingly dark about Richard’s character. I think we all, in a disturbing way, appreciated the perverseness of his nature. I think part of this is because we have probably never experienced this darkness ourselves, so to see this darkness laid out for us is exhilarating. It’s enjoyable because we get to experience something so awful without actually being harmed by it or directly involved with it. It’s satisfying.

    I also appreciated the sentence “There is something very attractive about having a love affair with something perverse.” I think as humans, we have this tendency to flirt with darkness at one point or another, and I think sometimes our capacities for darkness are underestimated. But in reality, there is something so romantic about dark, twisted things, which explains why Richard is so fascinating to his audience.

    I would also like to comment on what you said about seeing Shakespeare performed opposed to just reading it. Again, I agree; to truly understand and connect to his plays, you really need to see it performed. This is due to a few reasons: a) you get to see how the characters move, as well as the actual stage directions which sometimes is an aid that helps us understand certain aspects of plot and b) Shakespeare is open to interpretation depending on the actors and the director, which opens up new opportunities for us to learn.

    This post has brought up some very valid ideas, which I have appreciated reading about. I don’t have a whole lot to say in terms of critical feedback goes. I noticed a few grammatical things, as Shyla said. But other than that, it was great.

    Never stop writing,

  3. Dear Hope,

    First of all, I’d like to commend you on writing about a topic that we as humans never really want to address. I think this is because, as you said, we are so drawn to evil and perversion which seems so wrong. This wrongness just adds to our attraction, and one thing I really appreciated was the way you brought the themes of love and lust together, but made it clear that this love affair was lust.

    I love the insight you brought into this play and it really gave reason behind the fact that we love to hate characters like this, but can’t help secretly being drawn to it. It’s the passion and desire we know can never truly satisfy us, but we try anyways.

    As Jade and Shyla said, I also love how you talked about the difference between just reading one of Shakespeare’s plays and experiencing them. Reading this play didn’t give me nearly as much pleasure as it did when I watched it.

    Thank you for bringing such profound insight to the class through your writing.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *