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Richard III
Act 2, scene 4

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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 4
Enter Archbishop, the young Duke of York,
Queen Elizabeth, and the Duchess of York.


ARCHBISHOP 
 Last night, I hear, they lay at Stony Stratford,
 And at Northampton they do rest tonight.
 Tomorrow or next day they will be here.

121
Richard III
ACT 2. SC. 4

DUCHESS 
 I long with all my heart to see the Prince.
5 I hope he is much grown since last I saw him.
QUEEN ELIZABETH 
 But I hear no; they say my son of York
 Has almost overta’en him in his growth.
YORK 
 Ay, mother, but I would not have it so.
DUCHESS 
 Why, my good cousin? It is good to grow.
YORK 
10 Grandam, one night as we did sit at supper,
 My uncle Rivers talked how I did grow
 More than my brother. “Ay,” quoth my uncle
 Gloucester,
 “Small herbs have grace; great weeds do grow
15 apace.”
 And since, methinks I would not grow so fast
 Because sweet flowers are slow and weeds make
 haste.
DUCHESS 
 Good faith, good faith, the saying did not hold
20 In him that did object the same to thee!
 He was the wretched’st thing when he was young,
 So long a-growing and so leisurely,
 That if his rule were true, he should be gracious.
YORK 
 And so no doubt he is, my gracious madam.
DUCHESS 
25 I hope he is, but yet let mothers doubt.
YORK 
 Now, by my troth, if I had been remembered,
 I could have given my uncle’s Grace a flout
 To touch his growth nearer than he touched mine.
DUCHESS 
 How, my young York? I prithee let me hear it.

123
Richard III
ACT 2. SC. 4

YORK 
30 Marry, they say my uncle grew so fast
 That he could gnaw a crust at two hours old.
 ’Twas full two years ere I could get a tooth.
 Grandam, this would have been a biting jest.
DUCHESS 
 I prithee, pretty York, who told thee this?
YORK 35Grandam, his nurse.
DUCHESS 
 His nurse? Why, she was dead ere thou wast born.
YORK 
 If ’twere not she, I cannot tell who told me.
QUEEN ELIZABETH 
 A parlous boy! Go to, you are too shrewd.
DUCHESS 
 Good madam, be not angry with the child.
QUEEN ELIZABETH 40Pitchers have ears.

Enter a Messenger.

ARCHBISHOP Here comes a messenger.—What news?
MESSENGER 
 Such news, my lord, as grieves me to report.
QUEEN ELIZABETH How doth the Prince?
MESSENGER Well, madam, and in health.
DUCHESS 45What is thy news?
MESSENGER 
 Lord Rivers and Lord Grey are sent to Pomfret,
 And, with them, Sir Thomas Vaughan, prisoners.
DUCHESS Who hath committed them?
MESSENGER 
 The mighty dukes, Gloucester and Buckingham.
ARCHBISHOP 50For what offense?
MESSENGER 
 The sum of all I can, I have disclosed.
 Why, or for what, the nobles were committed
 Is all unknown to me, my gracious lord.

125
Richard III
ACT 2. SC. 4

QUEEN ELIZABETH 
 Ay me! I see the ruin of my house.
55 The tiger now hath seized the gentle hind.
 Insulting tyranny begins to jut
 Upon the innocent and aweless throne.
 Welcome, destruction, blood, and massacre.
 I see, as in a map, the end of all.
DUCHESS 
60 Accursèd and unquiet wrangling days,
 How many of you have mine eyes beheld?
 My husband lost his life to get the crown,
 And often up and down my sons were tossed
 For me to joy, and weep, their gain and loss.
65 And being seated, and domestic broils
 Clean overblown, themselves the conquerors
 Make war upon themselves, brother to brother,
 Blood to blood, self against self. O, preposterous
 And frantic outrage, end thy damnèd spleen,
70 Or let me die, to look on Earth no more.
QUEEN ELIZABETH, to York 
 Come, come, my boy. We will to sanctuary.—
 Madam, farewell.
DUCHESS  Stay, I will go with you.
QUEEN ELIZABETH 
 You have no cause.
ARCHBISHOP, to Queen Elizabeth 75 My gracious lady, go,
 And thither bear your treasure and your goods.
 For my part, I’ll resign unto your Grace
 The seal I keep; and so betide to me
 As well I tender you and all of yours.
80 Go. I’ll conduct you to the sanctuary.
They exit.