Play: Richard III, act 3, sc. 7
“… my lord, this prince is not an Edward!
He is not lolling on a lewd day-bed,
But on his knees at meditation;
Not dallying with a brace of courtezans,
But meditating with two deep divines;
Not sleeping, to engross his idle body,
But praying, to enrich his watchful soul…”
In Current Language:
For a better treatment, an explanation of the quote-context should precede the quote itself. Still, I will keep to the traditional format of this segment of the program.
Uttering these words in the play is Buckingham, partner in crimes of Richard III. The idea is to convince the mayor of London and his associates that Richard is a worthier ruler than the legitimate Edward, whom Richard will have assassinated later.
The core lines of this quote, in current language, are:
(Look! This prince, that is Richard), is not seeking entertainment with a bunch of prostitutes, but is meditating together with two highly qualified priests; he is not asleep to fatten his idle body, but is praying to further ennoble his attentive soul…”
Suggestions For Use:
It may difficult to excel these lines in the representation of public and political hypocrisy. One way of describing a base and hypocritical politician, or a hypocrite at large, would be to recall part of the quote as a reference.
(Mr. XYZ) reminds me of Richard III, one of the best-worst political villains in Shakespeare’s plays. Richard III, to pretend that he is not seeking the English crown, sets up a well-crafted charade (today we would call it a public relations exercise).
For the charade Richard enlists the help of Buckingham, who acts, as today would, a reporter from a crooked TV network.
To better impress the audience, Buckingham describes the pretended sainthood of Richard – which is why Richard is showed standing and praying between two ‘deep divines’, two priests of sterling credibility.
In this most excellent example of deceit and mass indoctrination, Buckingham underscores that Richard is not sleeping (suggesting that other political competitors do). Rather, Richard is praying to further sanctify his soul.
In recent history, the part of Buckingham could be compared to those American democratic senators, who, in order to save Clinton’s bottom, pretended to believe that Clinton did not have sex with Lewinski and therefore did not lie under oath, which, as we know, would be immediate ground of impeachment. They did not go as far as saying that Clinton was “praying to enrich his watchful soul” but it is almost as if they did.
In a more down-to-earth setting, if, for whatever reason you are elected to a committee or are given some kind of added responsibility in your job, or club or similar, you could say, “Thank you. As Richard III said, I am not made of stone but penetrable to your kind entreaties.”
What Happens in the Actual Play:
The setting and the scene are almost completely described in the previous sections. To complete the description, after the excellent pubic relation pantomime produced by Buckingham, Richard pretends to refuse the crown. To make the charade even more realistic, Buckingham has enlisted the mayor of London to plead with Richard that he, Richard, should accept the crown. The charade ends up with Richard replying, in an apotheosis of hypocrisy, “I am not made of stone, but penetrable to your kind entreaties,” and of course he becomes king, after murdering both Edward and the two young boys who stand in his way in terms of legitimacy.
Some time ago – as part of the book I am writing, to show and demonstrate how easy and self-motivating skillful memorization can be (in the book applied to Shakespearean quotes) – I was assembling the Mnemonic Frame, as I call it, for the line, “I am not made of stone but penetrable to your kind entreaties.”
Then, through spontaneous recollections, I remembered the masterly episode of “Yes, Prime Minister” in which Jim Hacker has been chosen by ‘the powers that be’ to be the next prime minister.
In a scene featuring Jim Hacker and one of the pretenders to the prime minister post, the pretender catches the gist of what is happening. And after Jim Hacker asks the pretender to transfer his support to someone else. The pretender says, “You mean you?” and Hacker replies, “Me? I have absolutely no ambition in that direction.” At which the now ex-pretender exclaims, “You do mean you!”
Then in a similar exchange with the second pretender to be eliminated, to the same question, “You mean you?” Jim Hacker replies,
“Anne and I are reaching the age when we are hoping to spend much more time with each other.”
Whereupon, the other pretender also exclaims, “You do mean you.”
Both the now dropped-out pretenders were of course right. Jim Hacker’s replies were phony, however elegantly so.
When I think of that episode, I still cannot help laughing again, as the scene is acted, I should say, with perfection.
Which reminds me – and perhaps it should be a shared feeling among most of us – that if politicians must lie, they could at least do so with some more elegance. If not else, because, with their gross and crass hypocrisy, they further add a layer of insults and contempt towards those who, technically, have conferred onto them the power that they now abuse – thus further adding the proverbial shame to the proverbial injuries.
Examples are countless. I will just mention one here, current and undeniable.
Most of us have watched on television the Palestinian territory of Gaza turned into rubble, mayhem and a slaughter-house. And we have equally seen or heard highly-ranked Israeli politicians call those who dare rebel against the illegal occupation, ‘human animals’ that must be destroyed just like animals.
As I am taking down these notes, the toll among Palestinians civilians exceeds 16,000 and mounting. The world has seen – almost in live broadcasts – Palestinian children dead, along with the wounded, the helpless and the hungry. What we cannot see, we can imagine. And yet the official media, controlled and owned by the unmentionable, keeps telling the audience that “Israel has a right to defend itself”.
Without extending further the analysis, compared with the corporate-media reports on Palestine, Richard III and Buckingham appear less insincere in their behavior to achieve their goal. Besides, their killings, however horrible, were selective, but they were not genocides, as in Palestine they are.