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Richard III
Act 2, 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 old Duchess of York with the two
children of Clarence.


BOY 
 Good grandam, tell us, is our father dead?
DUCHESS No, boy.
DAUGHTER 
 Why do you weep so oft, and beat your breast,
 And cry “O Clarence, my unhappy son”?
BOY 
5 Why do you look on us and shake your head,

105
Richard III
ACT 2. SC. 2

 And call us orphans, wretches, castaways,
 If that our noble father were alive?
DUCHESS 
 My pretty cousins, you mistake me both.
 I do lament the sickness of the King,
10 As loath to lose him, not your father’s death.
 It were lost sorrow to wail one that’s lost.
BOY 
 Then, you conclude, my grandam, he is dead.
 The King mine uncle is to blame for it.
 God will revenge it, whom I will importune
15 With earnest prayers, all to that effect.
DAUGHTER And so will I.
DUCHESS 
 Peace, children, peace. The King doth love you
 well.
 Incapable and shallow innocents,
20 You cannot guess who caused your father’s death.
BOY 
 Grandam, we can, for my good uncle Gloucester
 Told me the King, provoked to it by the Queen,
 Devised impeachments to imprison him;
 And when my uncle told me so, he wept,
25 And pitied me, and kindly kissed my cheek,
 Bade me rely on him as on my father,
 And he would love me dearly as a child.
DUCHESS 
 Ah, that deceit should steal such gentle shape,
 And with a virtuous visor hide deep vice.
30 He is my son, ay, and therein my shame,
 Yet from my dugs he drew not this deceit.
BOY 
 Think you my uncle did dissemble, grandam?
DUCHESS Ay, boy.
BOY 
 I cannot think it. Hark, what noise is this?

107
Richard III
ACT 2. SC. 2

Enter Queen Elizabeth with her hair about her ears,
Rivers and Dorset after her.


QUEEN ELIZABETH 
35 Ah, who shall hinder me to wail and weep,
 To chide my fortune and torment myself?
 I’ll join with black despair against my soul
 And to myself become an enemy.
DUCHESS 
 What means this scene of rude impatience?
QUEEN ELIZABETH 
40 To make an act of tragic violence.
 Edward, my lord, thy son, our king, is dead.
 Why grow the branches when the root is gone?
 Why wither not the leaves that want their sap?
 If you will live, lament. If die, be brief,
45 That our swift-wingèd souls may catch the King’s,
 Or, like obedient subjects, follow him
 To his new kingdom of ne’er-changing night.
DUCHESS 
 Ah, so much interest have I in thy sorrow
 As I had title in thy noble husband.
50 I have bewept a worthy husband’s death
 And lived with looking on his images;
 But now two mirrors of his princely semblance
 Are cracked in pieces by malignant death,
 And I, for comfort, have but one false glass
55 That grieves me when I see my shame in him.
 Thou art a widow, yet thou art a mother,
 And hast the comfort of thy children left,
 But death hath snatched my husband from mine
 arms
60 And plucked two crutches from my feeble hands,
 Clarence and Edward. O, what cause have I,
 Thine being but a moiety of my moan,
 To overgo thy woes and drown thy cries!

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Richard III
ACT 2. SC. 2

BOY, to Queen Elizabeth 
 Ah, aunt, you wept not for our father’s death.
65 How can we aid you with our kindred tears?
DAUGHTER, to Queen Elizabeth 
 Our fatherless distress was left unmoaned.
 Your widow-dolor likewise be unwept!
QUEEN ELIZABETH 
 Give me no help in lamentation.
 I am not barren to bring forth complaints.
70 All springs reduce their currents to mine eyes,
 That I, being governed by the watery moon,
 May send forth plenteous tears to drown the world.
 Ah, for my husband, for my dear lord Edward!
CHILDREN 
 Ah, for our father, for our dear lord Clarence!
DUCHESS 
75 Alas for both, both mine, Edward and Clarence!
QUEEN ELIZABETH 
 What stay had I but Edward? And he’s gone.
CHILDREN 
 What stay had we but Clarence? And he’s gone.
DUCHESS 
 What stays had I but they? And they are gone.
QUEEN ELIZABETH 
 Was never widow had so dear a loss.
CHILDREN 
80 Were never orphans had so dear a loss.
DUCHESS 
 Was never mother had so dear a loss.
 Alas, I am the mother of these griefs.
 Their woes are parceled; mine is general.
 She for an Edward weeps, and so do I;
85 I for a Clarence weep; so doth not she.
 These babes for Clarence weep, and so do I;
 I for an Edward weep; so do not they.
 Alas, you three, on me, threefold distressed,

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ACT 2. SC. 2

 Pour all your tears. I am your sorrow’s nurse,
90 And I will pamper it with lamentation.
DORSET, to Queen Elizabeth 
 Comfort, dear mother. God is much displeased
 That you take with unthankfulness His doing.
 In common worldly things, ’tis called ungrateful
 With dull unwillingness to repay a debt
95 Which with a bounteous hand was kindly lent;
 Much more to be thus opposite with heaven,
 For it requires the royal debt it lent you.
RIVERS 
 Madam, bethink you, like a careful mother,
 Of the young prince your son. Send straight for
100 him.
 Let him be crowned. In him your comfort lives.
 Drown desperate sorrow in dead Edward’s grave
 And plant your joys in living Edward’s throne.

Enter Richard, Duke of Gloucester, Buckingham, Lord
Stanley, Earl of Derby, Hastings, and Ratcliffe.


RICHARD, to Queen Elizabeth 
 Sister, have comfort. All of us have cause
105 To wail the dimming of our shining star,
 But none can help our harms by wailing them.—
 Madam my mother, I do cry you mercy;
 I did not see your Grace. Humbly on my knee
 I crave your blessing.He kneels.
DUCHESS 
110 God bless thee, and put meekness in thy breast,
 Love, charity, obedience, and true duty.
RICHARD, standing 
 Amen. Aside. And make me die a good old man!
 That is the butt end of a mother’s blessing;
 I marvel that her Grace did leave it out.
BUCKINGHAM 
115 You cloudy princes and heart-sorrowing peers

113
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ACT 2. SC. 2

 That bear this heavy mutual load of moan,
 Now cheer each other in each other’s love.
 Though we have spent our harvest of this king,
 We are to reap the harvest of his son.
120 The broken rancor of your high-swoll’n hates,
 But lately splintered, knit, and joined together,
 Must gently be preserved, cherished, and kept.
 Meseemeth good that with some little train
 Forthwith from Ludlow the young prince be fet
125 Hither to London, to be crowned our king.
RIVERS 
 Why “with some little train,” my lord of
 Buckingham?
BUCKINGHAM 
 Marry, my lord, lest by a multitude
 The new-healed wound of malice should break out,
130 Which would be so much the more dangerous
 By how much the estate is green and yet
 ungoverned.
 Where every horse bears his commanding rein
 And may direct his course as please himself,
135 As well the fear of harm as harm apparent,
 In my opinion, ought to be prevented.
RICHARD 
 I hope the King made peace with all of us;
 And the compact is firm and true in me.
RIVERS 
 And so in me, and so, I think, in all.
140 Yet since it is but green, it should be put
 To no apparent likelihood of breach,
 Which haply by much company might be urged.
 Therefore I say with noble Buckingham
 That it is meet so few should fetch the Prince.
HASTINGS 145And so say I.
RICHARD 
 Then be it so, and go we to determine

115
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ACT 2. SC. 3

 Who they shall be that straight shall post to
 Ludlow.
 Madam, and you, my sister, will you go
150 To give your censures in this business?
All but Buckingham and Richard exit.
BUCKINGHAM 
 My lord, whoever journeys to the Prince,
 For God’s sake let not us two stay at home.
 For by the way I’ll sort occasion,
 As index to the story we late talked of,
155 To part the Queen’s proud kindred from the Prince.
RICHARD 
 My other self, my council’s consistory,
 My oracle, my prophet, my dear cousin,
 I, as a child, will go by thy direction.
 Toward Ludlow then, for we’ll not stay behind.
They exit.