Richard the Third: Abuse of Power; Abuse of Self
Richard the Third is self-abuse at it's finest.
Some quick random thoughts:
Power without self-awareness breeds self-destruction.
R3 doesn't TRULY believe at the beginning he's a villain. "[S]ince I cannot prove a lover to entertain these fair well-spoken days," he says, "I am determined to prove a villain..." He's set things up but nothing's in play yet. His actions haven't yet defined him.
Power comes first from power over one's own self, which is what you see at the beginning. To set up the machinations at the beginning he has to control his body--his face, primarily, to put forth the concerned expressions towards Clarence, towards Lady Anne--to appear the way he WANTS to appear and so deceive others.
And he realizes it's easy. Which always disappoints. The first time you lie to GET something and actually get it--there's a disappointment. "Where is the higher, greater good to stop me from this?"
Look how he seduces Anne in Act I, Scene 2, and then badmouths her once she leaves!
Having God, her conscience, and these bars
And I nothing to back my suit at all,
But the plain devil and dissembling looks,
And yet to win her, all the world to nothing!
Hath she forgot already that brave prince,
Edward, her lord, whom I, some three months since,
Each gain through deceit keeps him on the climb upward to greater power to--I believe--find an even greater "goodly" power to stop him.
Power is just the willingness to do what someone else won't.
Power seems to be one of those things people mistake as roads to redemption, or self-fulfillment, or whichever name you choose to give to just being good with yourself. R3's decision to be a villain makes him first subjugate his body and then all those around him to his will. But he is always looking for ANYBODY to stand up to him and set him straight.
The monologue that he offers in Act IV Scene 4 in response to Elizabeth has him talking how heaven and fortune and all good things should bar him from happiness.
As I intend to prosper and repent,
So thrive I in my dangerous attempt
Of hostile arms! myself myself confound!
Heaven and fortune bar me happy hours!
Day, yield me not thy light; nor, night, thy rest!
Be opposite all planets of good luck
To my proceedings...
Is he denying those things? No. He's screaming for them to please keep him unhappy