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Richard III
Act 1, scene 2

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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 2
Enter the corse of Henry the Sixth on a bier, with
Halberds to guard it, Lady Anne being the mourner,
accompanied by Gentlemen.


ANNE 
 Set down, set down your honorable load,
 If honor may be shrouded in a hearse,
 Whilst I awhile obsequiously lament
 Th’ untimely fall of virtuous Lancaster.
They set down the bier.
5 Poor key-cold figure of a holy king,
 Pale ashes of the house of Lancaster,
 Thou bloodless remnant of that royal blood,
 Be it lawful that I invocate thy ghost
 To hear the lamentations of poor Anne,
10 Wife to thy Edward, to thy slaughtered son,
 Stabbed by the selfsame hand that made these
 wounds.
 Lo, in these windows that let forth thy life
 I pour the helpless balm of my poor eyes.
15 O, cursèd be the hand that made these holes;
 Cursèd the heart that had the heart to do it;
 Cursèd the blood that let this blood from hence.
 More direful hap betide that hated wretch
 That makes us wretched by the death of thee
20 Than I can wish to wolves, to spiders, toads,
 Or any creeping venomed thing that lives.
 If ever he have child, abortive be it,
 Prodigious, and untimely brought to light,
 Whose ugly and unnatural aspect
25 May fright the hopeful mother at the view,
 And that be heir to his unhappiness.
 If ever he have wife, let her be made
 More miserable by the death of him
 Than I am made by my young lord and thee.—

23
Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 2

30 Come now towards Chertsey with your holy load,
 Taken from Paul’s to be interrèd there.
They take up the bier.
 And still, as you are weary of this weight,
 Rest you, whiles I lament King Henry’s corse.

Enter Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

RICHARD 
 Stay, you that bear the corse, and set it down.
ANNE 
35 What black magician conjures up this fiend
 To stop devoted charitable deeds?
RICHARD 
 Villains, set down the corse or, by Saint Paul,
 I’ll make a corse of him that disobeys.
GENTLEMAN 
 My lord, stand back and let the coffin pass.
RICHARD 
40 Unmannered dog, stand thou when I command!—
 Advance thy halberd higher than my breast,
 Or by Saint Paul I’ll strike thee to my foot
 And spurn upon thee, beggar, for thy boldness.
They set down the bier.
ANNE, to the Gentlemen and Halberds 
 What, do you tremble? Are you all afraid?
45 Alas, I blame you not, for you are mortal,
 And mortal eyes cannot endure the devil.—
 Avaunt, thou dreadful minister of hell.
 Thou hadst but power over his mortal body;
 His soul thou canst not have. Therefore begone.
RICHARD 
50 Sweet saint, for charity, be not so curst.
ANNE 
 Foul devil, for God’s sake, hence, and trouble us
 not,
 For thou hast made the happy Earth thy hell,

25
Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 2

 Filled it with cursing cries and deep exclaims.
55 If thou delight to view thy heinous deeds,
 Behold this pattern of thy butcheries.
She points to the corpse.
 O, gentlemen, see, see dead Henry’s wounds
 Open their congealed mouths and bleed afresh!—
 Blush, blush, thou lump of foul deformity,
60 For ’tis thy presence that exhales this blood
 From cold and empty veins where no blood dwells.
 Thy deeds, inhuman and unnatural,
 Provokes this deluge most unnatural.—
 O God, which this blood mad’st, revenge his death!
65 O Earth, which this blood drink’st, revenge his
 death!
 Either heaven with lightning strike the murderer
 dead,
 Or Earth gape open wide and eat him quick,
70 As thou dost swallow up this good king’s blood,
 Which his hell-governed arm hath butcherèd.
RICHARD 
 Lady, you know no rules of charity,
 Which renders good for bad, blessings for curses.
ANNE 
 Villain, thou know’st nor law of God nor man.
75 No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity.
RICHARD 
 But I know none, and therefore am no beast.
ANNE 
 O, wonderful, when devils tell the truth!
RICHARD 
 More wonderful, when angels are so angry.
 Vouchsafe, divine perfection of a woman,
80 Of these supposèd crimes to give me leave
 By circumstance but to acquit myself.
ANNE 
 Vouchsafe, defused infection of a man,

27
Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 2

 Of these known evils but to give me leave
 By circumstance to curse thy cursèd self.
RICHARD 
85 Fairer than tongue can name thee, let me have
 Some patient leisure to excuse myself.
ANNE 
 Fouler than heart can think thee, thou canst make
 No excuse current but to hang thyself.
RICHARD 
 By such despair I should accuse myself.
ANNE 
90 And by despairing shalt thou stand excused
 For doing worthy vengeance on thyself
 That didst unworthy slaughter upon others.
RICHARD Say that I slew them not.
ANNE Then say they were not slain.
95 But dead they are, and, devilish slave, by thee.
RICHARD I did not kill your husband.
ANNE Why then, he is alive.
RICHARD 
 Nay, he is dead, and slain by Edward’s hands.
ANNE 
 In thy foul throat thou liest. Queen Margaret saw
100 Thy murd’rous falchion smoking in his blood,
 The which thou once didst bend against her breast,
 But that thy brothers beat aside the point.
RICHARD 
 I was provokèd by her sland’rous tongue,
 That laid their guilt upon my guiltless shoulders.
ANNE 
105 Thou wast provokèd by thy bloody mind,
 That never dream’st on aught but butcheries.
 Didst thou not kill this king?
RICHARD I grant you.
ANNE 
 Dost grant me, hedgehog? Then, God grant me too

29
Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 2

110 Thou mayst be damnèd for that wicked deed.
 O, he was gentle, mild, and virtuous.
RICHARD 
 The better for the King of heaven that hath him.
ANNE 
 He is in heaven, where thou shalt never come.
RICHARD 
 Let him thank me, that holp to send him thither,
115 For he was fitter for that place than Earth.
ANNE 
 And thou unfit for any place but hell.
RICHARD 
 Yes, one place else, if you will hear me name it.
ANNE Some dungeon.
RICHARD Your bedchamber.
ANNE 
120 Ill rest betide the chamber where thou liest!
RICHARD 
 So will it, madam, till I lie with you.
ANNE 
 I hope so.
RICHARD  I know so. But, gentle Lady Anne,
 To leave this keen encounter of our wits
125 And fall something into a slower method:
 Is not the causer of the timeless deaths
 Of these Plantagenets, Henry and Edward,
 As blameful as the executioner?
ANNE 
 Thou wast the cause and most accursed effect.
RICHARD 
130 Your beauty was the cause of that effect—
 Your beauty, that did haunt me in my sleep
 To undertake the death of all the world,
 So I might live one hour in your sweet bosom.
ANNE 
 If I thought that, I tell thee, homicide,

31
Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 2

135 These nails should rend that beauty from my
 cheeks.
RICHARD 
 These eyes could not endure that beauty’s wrack.
 You should not blemish it, if I stood by.
 As all the world is cheerèd by the sun,
140 So I by that. It is my day, my life.
ANNE 
 Black night o’ershade thy day, and death thy life.
RICHARD 
 Curse not thyself, fair creature; thou art both.
ANNE 
 I would I were, to be revenged on thee.
RICHARD 
 It is a quarrel most unnatural
145 To be revenged on him that loveth thee.
ANNE 
 It is a quarrel just and reasonable
 To be revenged on him that killed my husband.
RICHARD 
 He that bereft thee, lady, of thy husband
 Did it to help thee to a better husband.
ANNE 
150 His better doth not breathe upon the earth.
RICHARD 
 He lives that loves thee better than he could.
ANNE 
 Name him.
RICHARD  Plantagenet.
ANNE  Why, that was he.
RICHARD 
155 The selfsame name, but one of better nature.
ANNE 
 Where is he?
RICHARD  Here. (She spits at him.) Why dost
 thou spit at me?

33
Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 2

ANNE 
 Would it were mortal poison for thy sake.
RICHARD 
160 Never came poison from so sweet a place.
ANNE 
 Never hung poison on a fouler toad.
 Out of my sight! Thou dost infect mine eyes.
RICHARD 
 Thine eyes, sweet lady, have infected mine.
ANNE 
 Would they were basilisks’ to strike thee dead.
RICHARD 
165 I would they were, that I might die at once,
 For now they kill me with a living death.
 Those eyes of thine from mine have drawn salt
 tears,
 Shamed their aspects with store of childish drops.
170 These eyes, which never shed remorseful tear—
 No, when my father York and Edward wept
 To hear the piteous moan that Rutland made
 When black-faced Clifford shook his sword at him;
 Nor when thy warlike father, like a child,
175 Told the sad story of my father’s death
 And twenty times made pause to sob and weep,
 That all the standers-by had wet their cheeks
 Like trees bedashed with rain—in that sad time,
 My manly eyes did scorn an humble tear;
180 And what these sorrows could not thence exhale
 Thy beauty hath, and made them blind with
 weeping.
 I never sued to friend nor enemy;
 My tongue could never learn sweet smoothing word.
185 But now thy beauty is proposed my fee,
 My proud heart sues and prompts my tongue to
 speak.She looks scornfully at him.
 Teach not thy lip such scorn, for it was made

35
Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 2

 For kissing, lady, not for such contempt.
190 If thy revengeful heart cannot forgive,
 Lo, here I lend thee this sharp-pointed sword,
 Which if thou please to hide in this true breast
 And let the soul forth that adoreth thee,
 I lay it naked to the deadly stroke
195 And humbly beg the death upon my knee.
He kneels and lays his breast open;
she offers at it with his sword.

 Nay, do not pause, for I did kill King Henry—
 But ’twas thy beauty that provokèd me.
 Nay, now dispatch; ’twas I that stabbed young
 Edward—
200 But ’twas thy heavenly face that set me on.
She falls the sword.
 Take up the sword again, or take up me.
ANNE 
 Arise, dissembler. Though I wish thy death,
 I will not be thy executioner.
RICHARD, rising 
 Then bid me kill myself, and I will do it.
ANNE 
205 I have already.
RICHARD  That was in thy rage.
 Speak it again and, even with the word,
 This hand, which for thy love did kill thy love,
 Shall for thy love kill a far truer love.
210 To both their deaths shalt thou be accessory.
ANNE I would I knew thy heart.
RICHARD ’Tis figured in my tongue.
ANNE I fear me both are false.
RICHARD Then never was man true.
ANNE 215Well, well, put up your sword.
RICHARD Say then my peace is made.
ANNE That shalt thou know hereafter.
RICHARD But shall I live in hope?

37
Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 2

ANNE All men I hope live so.
RICHARD 220Vouchsafe to wear this ring.
ANNE To take is not to give.
He places the ring on her hand.
RICHARD 
 Look how my ring encompasseth thy finger;
 Even so thy breast encloseth my poor heart.
 Wear both of them, for both of them are thine.
225 And if thy poor devoted servant may
 But beg one favor at thy gracious hand,
 Thou dost confirm his happiness forever.
ANNE What is it?
RICHARD 
 That it may please you leave these sad designs
230 To him that hath most cause to be a mourner,
 And presently repair to Crosby House,
 Where, after I have solemnly interred
 At Chertsey monast’ry this noble king
 And wet his grave with my repentant tears,
235 I will with all expedient duty see you.
 For divers unknown reasons, I beseech you,
 Grant me this boon.
ANNE 
 With all my heart, and much it joys me too
 To see you are become so penitent.—
240 Tressel and Berkeley, go along with me.
RICHARD 
 Bid me farewell.
ANNE  ’Tis more than you deserve;
 But since you teach me how to flatter you,
 Imagine I have said “farewell” already.
Two exit with Anne. The bier is taken up.
GENTLEMAN 245Towards Chertsey, noble lord?
RICHARD 
 No, to Whitefriars. There attend my coming.
Halberds and gentlemen exit with corse.

39
Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 2

 Was ever woman in this humor wooed?
 Was ever woman in this humor won?
 I’ll have her, but I will not keep her long.
250 What, I that killed her husband and his father,
 To take her in her heart’s extremest hate,
 With curses in her mouth, tears in her eyes,
 The bleeding witness of my hatred by,
 Having God, her conscience, and these bars against
255 me,
 And I no friends to back my suit at all
 But the plain devil and dissembling looks?
 And yet to win her, all the world to nothing!
 Ha!
260 Hath she forgot already that brave prince,
 Edward, her lord, whom I some three months since
 Stabbed in my angry mood at Tewkesbury?
 A sweeter and a lovelier gentleman,
 Framed in the prodigality of nature,
265 Young, valiant, wise, and, no doubt, right royal,
 The spacious world cannot again afford.
 And will she yet abase her eyes on me,
 That cropped the golden prime of this sweet prince
 And made her widow to a woeful bed?
270 On me, whose all not equals Edward’s moiety?
 On me, that halts and am misshapen thus?
 My dukedom to a beggarly denier,
 I do mistake my person all this while!
 Upon my life, she finds, although I cannot,
275 Myself to be a marv’lous proper man.
 I’ll be at charges for a looking glass
 And entertain a score or two of tailors
 To study fashions to adorn my body.
 Since I am crept in favor with myself,
280 I will maintain it with some little cost.
 But first I’ll turn yon fellow in his grave

41
Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 3

 And then return lamenting to my love.
 Shine out, fair sun, till I have bought a glass,
 That I may see my shadow as I pass.
He exits.