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An honest tale speeds best being plainly told”: Art, truth and rhetorical Supremacy in Richard III

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The relationship between ‘rhetoric’ and ‘truth’ has long been questioned and discussed, especially by ancient philosophers or instructors of rhetoric such as Plato, Aristotle, Cicero and Quintilian. Since rhetoric is associated with persuasive speech and is available to the service of both good and evil, the general tendency has been to foreground its power and emphasize that the goal of rhetoric should be to seek the truth. In the second wooing scene of Shakespeare’s Richard III, King Richard –after having ordered the murder of her two sonsasks Queen Elizabeth to be “eloquent” on his behalf while persuading her daughter Young Elizabeth to marry him. To this, she replies “An honest tale speeds best being plainly told” emphasizing not only that ‘truth’ does not need eloquence but also the danger of rhetoric. In this English history play that has been constructed on dialogue rather than action, rhetorical skill is equivalent to power. Even though almost all of the characters employ a rhetorical style up to a certain point, they do not even come close to the effect produced by Queen Margaret, Richard, and Richmond. Although they all make extensive use of all types of rhetoric (‘deliberative’, ‘judicial’, and ‘demonstrative’), it seems that Queen Margaret represents the past, Richard the present and Richmond the future. Queen Margaret commands the ‘heavens’ to bring forth violence upon her enemies through her rhetorical power while Richard uses his rhetorical competence to remove his opponents and gain the English throne. It is only Richmond, however, who combines rhetorical skill with ‘truth’ to gain the throne and restore order in England. In this respect, the aim of this study is to foreground the importance of the balance between ‘truth’ and ‘rhetoric’ in gaining supremacy in Richard III.

Yayınlandığı Kaynak : Dil Dergisi
  • Yıl : 2018
  • DOI : 10.1501/Dilder_0000000257
  • Cilt : 2018
  • ISSN : 1300-3542
  • Sayı : 169
  • Sayfa Aralığı : 113-134
  • IO Kayıt No : 81491
  • Yayıncı : Ankara Üniversitesi Türkçe ve Yabancı Dil Uygulama ve Araştırma Merkezi