List iconRichard III:
Act 1, scene 3
List icon

Richard III
Act 1, scene 3



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 3
Enter Queen Elizabeth, the Lord Marquess of Dorset,
Lord Rivers, and Lord Grey.

 Have patience, madam. There’s no doubt his
 Will soon recover his accustomed health.
 In that you brook it ill, it makes him worse.
5 Therefore, for God’s sake, entertain good comfort
 And cheer his Grace with quick and merry eyes.
 If he were dead, what would betide on me?
 No other harm but loss of such a lord.
 The loss of such a lord includes all harms.
10 The heavens have blessed you with a goodly son
 To be your comforter when he is gone.
 Ah, he is young, and his minority
 Is put unto the trust of Richard Gloucester,
 A man that loves not me nor none of you.
15 Is it concluded he shall be Protector?
 It is determined, not concluded yet;
 But so it must be if the King miscarry.

Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 3

Enter Buckingham and Lord Stanley, Earl of Derby.

 Here comes the lord of Buckingham, and Derby.
BUCKINGHAM, to Queen Elizabeth 
 Good time of day unto your royal Grace.
20 God make your Majesty joyful, as you have been.
 The Countess Richmond, good my lord of Derby,
 To your good prayer will scarcely say amen.
 Yet, Derby, notwithstanding she’s your wife
 And loves not me, be you, good lord, assured
25 I hate not you for her proud arrogance.
 I do beseech you either not believe
 The envious slanders of her false accusers,
 Or if she be accused on true report,
 Bear with her weakness, which I think proceeds
30 From wayward sickness and no grounded malice.
 Saw you the King today, my lord of Derby?
 But now the Duke of Buckingham and I
 Are come from visiting his Majesty.
 What likelihood of his amendment, lords?
35 Madam, good hope. His Grace speaks cheerfully.
 God grant him health. Did you confer with him?
 Ay, madam. He desires to make atonement
 Between the Duke of Gloucester and your brothers,
 And between them and my Lord Chamberlain,
40 And sent to warn them to his royal presence.

Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 3

 Would all were well—but that will never be.
 I fear our happiness is at the height.

Enter Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and Hastings.

 They do me wrong, and I will not endure it!
 Who is it that complains unto the King
45 That I, forsooth, am stern and love them not?
 By holy Paul, they love his Grace but lightly
 That fill his ears with such dissentious rumors.
 Because I cannot flatter and look fair,
 Smile in men’s faces, smooth, deceive, and cog,
50 Duck with French nods and apish courtesy,
 I must be held a rancorous enemy.
 Cannot a plain man live and think no harm,
 But thus his simple truth must be abused
 With silken, sly, insinuating Jacks?
55 To who in all this presence speaks your Grace?
 To thee, that hast nor honesty nor grace.
 When have I injured thee? When done thee
 Or thee?—Or thee? Or any of your faction?
60 A plague upon you all! His royal Grace,
 Whom God preserve better than you would wish,
 Cannot be quiet scarce a breathing while
 But you must trouble him with lewd complaints.
 Brother of Gloucester, you mistake the matter.
65 The King, on his own royal disposition,
 And not provoked by any suitor else,
 Aiming belike at your interior hatred
 That in your outward action shows itself
 Against my children, brothers, and myself,
70 Makes him to send, that he may learn the ground.

Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 3

 I cannot tell. The world is grown so bad
 That wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch.
 Since every Jack became a gentleman,
 There’s many a gentle person made a Jack.
75 Come, come, we know your meaning, brother
 You envy my advancement, and my friends’.
 God grant we never may have need of you.
 Meantime God grants that we have need of
80 you.
 Our brother is imprisoned by your means,
 Myself disgraced, and the nobility
 Held in contempt, while great promotions
 Are daily given to ennoble those
85 That scarce some two days since were worth a
 By Him that raised me to this careful height
 From that contented hap which I enjoyed,
 I never did incense his Majesty
90 Against the Duke of Clarence, but have been
 An earnest advocate to plead for him.
 My lord, you do me shameful injury
 Falsely to draw me in these vile suspects.
 You may deny that you were not the mean
95 Of my Lord Hastings’ late imprisonment.
RIVERS She may, my lord, for—
 She may, Lord Rivers. Why, who knows not so?
 She may do more, sir, than denying that.
 She may help you to many fair preferments

Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 3

100 And then deny her aiding hand therein,
 And lay those honors on your high desert.
 What may she not? She may, ay, marry, may she—
RIVERS What, marry, may she?
 What, marry, may she? Marry with a king,
105 A bachelor, and a handsome stripling too.
 Iwis, your grandam had a worser match.
 My lord of Gloucester, I have too long borne
 Your blunt upbraidings and your bitter scoffs.
 By heaven, I will acquaint his Majesty
110 Of those gross taunts that oft I have endured.
 I had rather be a country servant-maid
 Than a great queen with this condition,
 To be so baited, scorned, and stormèd at.

Enter old Queen Margaret, apart from the others.

 Small joy have I in being England’s queen.
115 And lessened be that small, God I beseech Him!
 Thy honor, state, and seat is due to me.
RICHARD, to Queen Elizabeth 
 What, threat you me with telling of the King?
 Tell him and spare not. Look, what I have said,
 I will avouch ’t in presence of the King;
120 I dare adventure to be sent to th’ Tower.
 ’Tis time to speak. My pains are quite forgot.
 Out, devil! I do remember them too well:
 Thou killed’st my husband Henry in the Tower,
 And Edward, my poor son, at Tewkesbury.
RICHARD, to Queen Elizabeth 
125 Ere you were queen, ay, or your husband king,
 I was a packhorse in his great affairs,
 A weeder-out of his proud adversaries,

Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 3

 A liberal rewarder of his friends.
 To royalize his blood, I spent mine own.
130 Ay, and much better blood than his or thine.
RICHARD, to Queen Elizabeth 
 In all which time, you and your husband Grey
 Were factious for the House of Lancaster.—
 And, Rivers, so were you.—Was not your husband
 In Margaret’s battle at Saint Albans slain?
135 Let me put in your minds, if you forget,
 What you have been ere this, and what you are;
 Withal, what I have been, and what I am.
 A murd’rous villain, and so still thou art.
RICHARD, to Queen Elizabeth 
 Poor Clarence did forsake his father Warwick,
140 Ay, and forswore himself—which Jesu pardon!—
QUEEN MARGARET, aside Which God revenge!
 To fight on Edward’s party for the crown;
 And for his meed, poor lord, he is mewed up.
 I would to God my heart were flint, like Edward’s,
145 Or Edward’s soft and pitiful, like mine.
 I am too childish-foolish for this world.
 Hie thee to hell for shame, and leave this world,
 Thou cacodemon! There thy kingdom is.
 My lord of Gloucester, in those busy days
150 Which here you urge to prove us enemies,
 We followed then our lord, our sovereign king.
 So should we you, if you should be our king.
 If I should be? I had rather be a peddler.
 Far be it from my heart, the thought thereof.

Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 3

155 As little joy, my lord, as you suppose
 You should enjoy were you this country’s king,
 As little joy you may suppose in me
 That I enjoy, being the queen thereof.
 As little joy enjoys the queen thereof,
160 For I am she, and altogether joyless.
 I can no longer hold me patient.
She steps forward.
 Hear me, you wrangling pirates, that fall out
 In sharing that which you have pilled from me!
 Which of you trembles not that looks on me?
165 If not, that I am queen, you bow like subjects,
 Yet that, by you deposed, you quake like rebels.—
 Ah, gentle villain, do not turn away.
 Foul, wrinkled witch, what mak’st thou in my
170 But repetition of what thou hast marred.
 That will I make before I let thee go.
 Wert thou not banishèd on pain of death?
 I was, but I do find more pain in banishment
 Than death can yield me here by my abode.
175 A husband and a son thou ow’st to me;
 To Queen Elizabeth. And thou a kingdom;—all
 of you, allegiance.
 This sorrow that I have by right is yours,
 And all the pleasures you usurp are mine.
180 The curse my noble father laid on thee
 When thou didst crown his warlike brows with

Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 3

 And with thy scorns drew’st rivers from his eyes,
 And then, to dry them, gav’st the Duke a clout
185 Steeped in the faultless blood of pretty Rutland—
 His curses then, from bitterness of soul
 Denounced against thee, are all fall’n upon thee,
 And God, not we, hath plagued thy bloody deed.
 So just is God to right the innocent.
190 O, ’twas the foulest deed to slay that babe,
 And the most merciless that e’er was heard of!
 Tyrants themselves wept when it was reported.
 No man but prophesied revenge for it.
 Northumberland, then present, wept to see it.
195 What, were you snarling all before I came,
 Ready to catch each other by the throat,
 And turn you all your hatred now on me?
 Did York’s dread curse prevail so much with
200 That Henry’s death, my lovely Edward’s death,
 Their kingdom’s loss, my woeful banishment,
 Should all but answer for that peevish brat?
 Can curses pierce the clouds and enter heaven?
 Why then, give way, dull clouds, to my quick
205 curses!
 Though not by war, by surfeit die your king,
 As ours by murder to make him a king.
 To Queen Elizabeth. Edward thy son, that now is
 Prince of Wales,
210 For Edward our son, that was Prince of Wales,
 Die in his youth by like untimely violence.
 Thyself a queen, for me that was a queen,

Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 3

 Outlive thy glory, like my wretched self.
 Long mayst thou live to wail thy children’s death
215 And see another, as I see thee now,
 Decked in thy rights, as thou art stalled in mine.
 Long die thy happy days before thy death,
 And, after many lengthened hours of grief,
 Die neither mother, wife, nor England’s queen.—
220 Rivers and Dorset, you were standers-by,
 And so wast thou, Lord Hastings, when my son
 Was stabbed with bloody daggers. God I pray Him
 That none of you may live his natural age,
 But by some unlooked accident cut off.
225 Have done thy charm, thou hateful, withered hag.
 And leave out thee? Stay, dog, for thou shalt hear
 If heaven have any grievous plague in store
 Exceeding those that I can wish upon thee,
230 O, let them keep it till thy sins be ripe
 And then hurl down their indignation
 On thee, the troubler of the poor world’s peace.
 The worm of conscience still begnaw thy soul.
 Thy friends suspect for traitors while thou liv’st,
235 And take deep traitors for thy dearest friends.
 No sleep close up that deadly eye of thine,
 Unless it be while some tormenting dream
 Affrights thee with a hell of ugly devils.
 Thou elvish-marked, abortive, rooting hog,
240 Thou that wast sealed in thy nativity
 The slave of nature and the son of hell,
 Thou slander of thy heavy mother’s womb,
 Thou loathèd issue of thy father’s loins,
 Thou rag of honor, thou detested—
RICHARD 245 Margaret.

Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 3

QUEEN MARGARET I call thee not.
 I cry thee mercy, then, for I did think
250 That thou hadst called me all these bitter names.
 Why, so I did, but looked for no reply.
 O, let me make the period to my curse!
 ’Tis done by me and ends in “Margaret.”
QUEEN ELIZABETH, to Queen Margaret 
 Thus have you breathed your curse against yourself.
255 Poor painted queen, vain flourish of my fortune,
 Why strew’st thou sugar on that bottled spider,
 Whose deadly web ensnareth thee about?
 Fool, fool, thou whet’st a knife to kill thyself.
 The day will come that thou shalt wish for me
260 To help thee curse this poisonous bunch-backed
 False-boding woman, end thy frantic curse,
 Lest to thy harm thou move our patience.
 Foul shame upon you, you have all moved mine.
265 Were you well served, you would be taught your
 To serve me well, you all should do me duty:
 Teach me to be your queen, and you my subjects.
 O, serve me well, and teach yourselves that duty!
DORSET, to Rivers 
270 Dispute not with her; she is lunatic.

Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 3

 Peace, Master Marquess, you are malapert.
 Your fire-new stamp of honor is scarce current.
 O, that your young nobility could judge
 What ’twere to lose it and be miserable!
275 They that stand high have many blasts to shake
 And if they fall, they dash themselves to pieces.
 Good counsel, marry.—Learn it, learn it, marquess.
 It touches you, my lord, as much as me.
280 Ay, and much more; but I was born so high.
 Our aerie buildeth in the cedar’s top,
 And dallies with the wind and scorns the sun.
 And turns the sun to shade. Alas, alas,
 Witness my son, now in the shade of death,
285 Whose bright out-shining beams thy cloudy wrath
 Hath in eternal darkness folded up.
 Your aerie buildeth in our aerie’s nest.
 O God, that seest it, do not suffer it!
 As it is won with blood, lost be it so.
290 Peace, peace, for shame, if not for charity.
 Urge neither charity nor shame to me.
 Addressing the others. Uncharitably with me have
 you dealt,
 And shamefully my hopes by you are butchered.
295 My charity is outrage, life my shame,
 And in that shame still live my sorrows’ rage.
BUCKINGHAM Have done, have done.
 O princely Buckingham, I’ll kiss thy hand

Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 3

 In sign of league and amity with thee.
300 Now fair befall thee and thy noble house!
 Thy garments are not spotted with our blood,
 Nor thou within the compass of my curse.
 Nor no one here, for curses never pass
 The lips of those that breathe them in the air.
305 I will not think but they ascend the sky,
 And there awake God’s gentle sleeping peace.
 Aside to Buckingham. O Buckingham, take heed of
 yonder dog!
 Look when he fawns, he bites; and when he bites,
310 His venom tooth will rankle to the death.
 Have not to do with him. Beware of him.
 Sin, death, and hell have set their marks on him,
 And all their ministers attend on him.
 What doth she say, my lord of Buckingham?
315 Nothing that I respect, my gracious lord.
 What, dost thou scorn me for my gentle counsel,
 And soothe the devil that I warn thee from?
 O, but remember this another day,
 When he shall split thy very heart with sorrow,
320 And say poor Margaret was a prophetess.—
 Live each of you the subjects to his hate,
 And he to yours, and all of you to God’s.She exits.
 My hair doth stand an end to hear her curses.
 And so doth mine. I muse why she’s at liberty.
325 I cannot blame her. By God’s holy mother,

Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 3

 She hath had too much wrong, and I repent
 My part thereof that I have done to her.
 I never did her any, to my knowledge.
 Yet you have all the vantage of her wrong.
330 I was too hot to do somebody good
 That is too cold in thinking of it now.
 Marry, as for Clarence, he is well repaid;
 He is franked up to fatting for his pains.
 God pardon them that are the cause thereof.
335 A virtuous and a Christian-like conclusion
 To pray for them that have done scathe to us.
 So do I ever—(speaks to himself) being well advised,
 For had I cursed now, I had cursed myself.

Enter Catesby.

 Madam, his Majesty doth call for you,—
340 And for your Grace,—and yours, my gracious
 Catesby, I come.—Lords, will you go with me?
RIVERS We wait upon your Grace.
All but Richard, Duke of Gloucester exit.
 I do the wrong and first begin to brawl.
345 The secret mischiefs that I set abroach
 I lay unto the grievous charge of others.
 Clarence, who I indeed have cast in darkness,
 I do beweep to many simple gulls,
 Namely, to Derby, Hastings, Buckingham,
350 And tell them ’tis the Queen and her allies
 That stir the King against the Duke my brother.

Richard III
ACT 1. SC. 3

 Now they believe it and withal whet me
 To be revenged on Rivers, Dorset, Grey;
 But then I sigh and, with a piece of scripture,
355 Tell them that God bids us do good for evil;
 And thus I clothe my naked villainy
 With odd old ends stol’n forth of Holy Writ,
 And seem a saint when most I play the devil.

Enter two Murderers.

 But soft, here come my executioners.—
360 How now, my hardy, stout, resolvèd mates?
 Are you now going to dispatch this thing?
 We are, my lord, and come to have the warrant
 That we may be admitted where he is.
 Well thought upon. I have it here about me.
He gives a paper.
365 When you have done, repair to Crosby Place.
 But, sirs, be sudden in the execution,
 Withal obdurate; do not hear him plead,
 For Clarence is well-spoken and perhaps
 May move your hearts to pity if you mark him.
370 Tut, tut, my lord, we will not stand to prate.
 Talkers are no good doers. Be assured
 We go to use our hands and not our tongues.
 Your eyes drop millstones when fools’ eyes fall
375 I like you lads. About your business straight.
 Go, go, dispatch.
MURDERERS  We will, my noble lord.
They exit.