List iconRichard III:
Act 1, scene 1
List icon

Richard III
Act 1, scene 1



Characters in the Play

Entire Play

As Richard III opens, Richard is Duke of Gloucester and his brother, Edward IV, is king. Richard is eager to clear his…

Act 1, scene 1

Richard, alone onstage, reveals his intention to play the villain. He then pretends to console Clarence, the first victim of…

Act 1, scene 2

Richard woos Lady Anne over the corpse of King Henry VI, Anne’s father-in-law, whom Richard murdered.

Act 1, scene 3

Queen Elizabeth bemoans her situation in the face of her husband’s serious illness; Richard quarrels with Queen Elizabeth, her brother,…

Act 1, scene 4

Richard’s agents murder the imprisoned Clarence.

Act 2, scene 1

The dying King Edward IV attempts to reconcile the quarreling factions in his royal court. Queen Elizabeth and her kindred,…

Act 2, scene 2

As the Duchess of York mourns Clarence’s death, Queen Elizabeth enters grieving for the death of King Edward IV. Richard…

Act 2, scene 3

Three citizens discuss the possibly tumultuous succession of Prince Edward.

Act 2, scene 4

As Queen Elizabeth awaits the coming of Prince Edward, news arrives that Richard has imprisoned her brother Rivers, her son…

Act 3, scene 1

Richard and Buckingham arrive in London with Prince Edward and order that Edward’s brother, the Duke of York, be taken…

Act 3, scene 2

Responding to Catesby, Hastings flatly refuses to support Richard’s bid for the throne, and takes great satisfaction in the news…

Act 3, scene 3

The Queen’s brother Rivers, her son Grey, and Sir Thomas Vaughan are led to execution. They recall Margaret’s curse, and…

Act 3, scene 4

A council of lords meets to plan the coronation of Edward V. Richard, learning from Buckingham of Hastings’ refusal to…

Act 3, scene 5

Richard and Buckingham excuse the summary execution of Hastings to the Mayor of London by staging an “uprising” that they…

Act 3, scene 6

The professional scribe who has just finished transcribing Hastings’ indictment shows how the charge against Hastings had been prepared and…

Act 3, scene 7

Richard and Buckingham, having failed to persuade London’s officials and citizens that Richard should be king, stage a scene of…

Act 4, scene 1

Queen Elizabeth, her son Dorset, and the Duchess of York meet Lady Anne and Clarence’s daughter as all approach the…

Act 4, scene 2

The newly crowned Richard asks Buckingham to arrange the deaths of Prince Edward and the Duke of York. When Buckingham…

Act 4, scene 3

Tyrrel reports the deaths of Edward IV’s sons. Richard then reveals that Anne is dead and that he will now…

Act 4, scene 4

Queen Margaret, Queen Elizabeth, and the Duchess of York grieve for their dead. Richard enters on his way to confront…

Act 4, scene 5

Lord Stanley sends news to Richmond, whose army is marching on London: Stanley will be unable to help because Richard…

Act 5, scene 1

Buckingham is led to execution.

Act 5, scene 2

Richmond and his army march against Richard.

Act 5, scene 3

Richard and Richmond and their supporters prepare for battle. Asleep, Richard and Richmond are each visited by the ghosts of…

Act 5, scene 4

In battle Richard has been unhorsed and faces defeat.

Act 5, scene 5

Richmond kills Richard and is given the crown that he will wear as King Henry VII. His coming marriage to…

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Scene 1
Enter Richard, Duke of Gloucester, alone.

 Now is the winter of our discontent
 Made glorious summer by this son of York,
 And all the clouds that loured upon our house
 In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
5 Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths,
 Our bruisèd arms hung up for monuments,
 Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
 Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
 Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrinkled front;
10 And now, instead of mounting barbèd steeds
 To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
 He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber
 To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
 But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
15 Nor made to court an amorous looking glass;
 I, that am rudely stamped and want love’s majesty
 To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
 I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
 Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
20 Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
 Into this breathing world scarce half made up,
 And that so lamely and unfashionable
 That dogs bark at me as I halt by them—

Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 1

 Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
25 Have no delight to pass away the time,
 Unless to see my shadow in the sun
 And descant on mine own deformity.
 And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover
 To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
30 I am determinèd to prove a villain
 And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
 Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
 By drunken prophecies, libels, and dreams,
 To set my brother Clarence and the King
35 In deadly hate, the one against the other;
 And if King Edward be as true and just
 As I am subtle, false, and treacherous,
 This day should Clarence closely be mewed up
 About a prophecy which says that “G”
40 Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be.
 Dive, thoughts, down to my soul. Here Clarence

Enter Clarence, guarded, and Brakenbury.

 Brother, good day. What means this armèd guard
 That waits upon your Grace?
CLARENCE 45 His Majesty,
 Tend’ring my person’s safety, hath appointed
 This conduct to convey me to the Tower.
 Upon what cause?
CLARENCE  Because my name is
50 George.
 Alack, my lord, that fault is none of yours.
 He should, for that, commit your godfathers.
 O, belike his Majesty hath some intent
 That you should be new christened in the Tower.
55 But what’s the matter, Clarence? May I know?

Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 1

 Yea, Richard, when I know, for I protest
 As yet I do not. But, as I can learn,
 He hearkens after prophecies and dreams,
 And from the crossrow plucks the letter G,
60 And says a wizard told him that by “G”
 His issue disinherited should be.
 And for my name of George begins with G,
 It follows in his thought that I am he.
 These, as I learn, and such like toys as these
65 Hath moved his Highness to commit me now.
 Why, this it is when men are ruled by women.
 ’Tis not the King that sends you to the Tower.
 My Lady Grey his wife, Clarence, ’tis she
 That tempers him to this extremity.
70 Was it not she and that good man of worship,
 Anthony Woodeville, her brother there,
 That made him send Lord Hastings to the Tower,
 From whence this present day he is delivered?
 We are not safe, Clarence; we are not safe.
75 By heaven, I think there is no man secure
 But the Queen’s kindred and night-walking heralds
 That trudge betwixt the King and Mistress Shore.
 Heard you not what an humble suppliant
 Lord Hastings was to her for his delivery?
80 Humbly complaining to her Deity
 Got my Lord Chamberlain his liberty.
 I’ll tell you what: I think it is our way,
 If we will keep in favor with the King,
 To be her men and wear her livery.
85 The jealous o’erworn widow and herself,
 Since that our brother dubbed them gentlewomen,
 Are mighty gossips in our monarchy.

Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 1

 I beseech your Graces both to pardon me.
 His Majesty hath straitly given in charge
90 That no man shall have private conference,
 Of what degree soever, with your brother.
 Even so. An please your Worship, Brakenbury,
 You may partake of anything we say.
 We speak no treason, man. We say the King
95 Is wise and virtuous, and his noble queen
 Well struck in years, fair, and not jealous.
 We say that Shore’s wife hath a pretty foot,
 A cherry lip, a bonny eye, a passing pleasing tongue,
 And that the Queen’s kindred are made gentlefolks.
100 How say you, sir? Can you deny all this?
 With this, my lord, myself have naught to do.
 Naught to do with Mistress Shore? I tell thee,
 He that doth naught with her, excepting one,
105 Were best to do it secretly, alone.
 I do beseech your Grace to pardon me, and withal
 Forbear your conference with the noble duke.
 We know thy charge, Brakenbury, and will obey.
 We are the Queen’s abjects and must obey.—
110 Brother, farewell. I will unto the King,
 And whatsoe’er you will employ me in,
 Were it to call King Edward’s widow “sister,”
 I will perform it to enfranchise you.
 Meantime, this deep disgrace in brotherhood
115 Touches me deeper than you can imagine.

Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 1

 I know it pleaseth neither of us well.
 Well, your imprisonment shall not be long.
 I will deliver you or else lie for you.
 Meantime, have patience.
CLARENCE 120 I must, perforce. Farewell.
Exit Clarence, Brakenbury, and guard.
 Go tread the path that thou shalt ne’er return.
 Simple, plain Clarence, I do love thee so
 That I will shortly send thy soul to heaven,
 If heaven will take the present at our hands.
125 But who comes here? The new-delivered Hastings?

Enter Lord Hastings.

 Good time of day unto my gracious lord.
 As much unto my good Lord Chamberlain.
 Well are you welcome to the open air.
 How hath your Lordship brooked imprisonment?
130 With patience, noble lord, as prisoners must.
 But I shall live, my lord, to give them thanks
 That were the cause of my imprisonment.
 No doubt, no doubt; and so shall Clarence too,
 For they that were your enemies are his
135 And have prevailed as much on him as you.
 More pity that the eagles should be mewed,
 Whiles kites and buzzards prey at liberty.
RICHARD What news abroad?
 No news so bad abroad as this at home:

Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 1

140 The King is sickly, weak, and melancholy,
 And his physicians fear him mightily.
 Now, by Saint John, that news is bad indeed.
 O, he hath kept an evil diet long,
 And overmuch consumed his royal person.
145 ’Tis very grievous to be thought upon.
 Where is he, in his bed?
 Go you before, and I will follow you.
Exit Hastings.
 He cannot live, I hope, and must not die
150 Till George be packed with post-horse up to heaven.
 I’ll in to urge his hatred more to Clarence
 With lies well steeled with weighty arguments,
 And, if I fail not in my deep intent,
 Clarence hath not another day to live;
155 Which done, God take King Edward to His mercy,
 And leave the world for me to bustle in.
 For then I’ll marry Warwick’s youngest daughter.
 What though I killed her husband and her father?
 The readiest way to make the wench amends
160 Is to become her husband and her father;
 The which will I, not all so much for love
 As for another secret close intent
 By marrying her which I must reach unto.
 But yet I run before my horse to market.
165 Clarence still breathes; Edward still lives and reigns.
 When they are gone, then must I count my gains.
He exits.