Soon after the initial monologue which opens the homonymous play, Shakespeare’s Richard III – in spite of what he has just told the audience about his unfitness “to prove a lover” (I.i.28) – launches into a prolonged and outrageous, but in the end successful, attack on Lady Anne, the widow of Prince Edward killed by the Yorkist army during the battle of Tewkesbury, in order to court her and convince her to marry him. The scene (I.ii) has been analysed as one of the most highly dramatic points in the play and the characters involved have been focused upon as representative of male power on the one hand, and of female weakness and pliability on the other, respectively. My article aims at showing how the differentiated use of personal pronouns by the two speakers adds a subtext to the semantic value of the protagonists’ words, and how politeness strategies are implemented on both sides so that Richard’s wooing becomes irresistible, and Anne’s surrender shows the effect of Richard’s perlocution exactly while she tries to resist capitulation. Although mimesis of natural conversation seems to be very low in this scene (rhetoric rather than imitation playing a very relevant role instead), the organization of dialogue appears deeply in dept of love/hate discourse and of all its strategies.
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