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Richard III

The Tragedy of Richard the Third (a History)
- the 2nd longest Shakespeare play by number of lines (3619)
- Note that Richard III is the Duke of Gloucester

Richard opens the play by declaring all in England is well, except with himself. Richard III convinces Edward IV to send his own brother Clarence to jail because his name starts with a G (George, Duke of Clarence). Hastings, recently released from jail, and Richard go to see the sickly King Edward IV. On the way, Richard III meets Anne Neville (Warwick's daughter), widow of Edward, Henry VI's son, who is transferring Henry VI's body to his funeral. They fight over the royals' deaths. Richard III tells Anne that he killed them because he loves her. He even gets her to like him. At the London palace Queen Elizabeth (Edward IV's wife) informs Rivers and Grey that Richard III would be the protector if Edward IV dies. [Dorset and Grey are Elizabeth's kids by a different husband than Edward IV; Rivers is her brother]. Richard III enters and fights with Queen Elizabeth about his loyalties and intentions. Queen Margaret (Henry VI's wife) shows up and curses: 1) Edward IV to die of sickness; 2) Edward V to die young; 3) Queen Elizabeth to live long, and be not wife, mother, or Queen; 4) Rivers, Dorset, and Hastings to die an unnatural death; 5) Richard III to be friends of traitors and betrayed by friends; and 6) Queen Elizabeth to later wish for Margaret's help to curse Richard III. Margaret spares Buckingham telling him he hasn't wronged her, but he insults her so she curses him too.

In the Tower of London, Clarence relates a dream to his keeper, in which Clarence drowns and sees his father-in-law, Warwick, cursing Clarence for deserting him at Tewksbury. Two executioners, paid by Richard III, then murder Clarence by drowning him in a wine barrel. At the London palace, sick Edward IV makes Queen Elizabeth, Hastings, Dorset, Buckingham, and Rivers make up old differences and be friends. Richard III enters and makes peace too, then informs them all of Clarence's death, afterwhich Edward IV repents the death. Cicely Neville (Duchess of York, 3rd Duke of York's widow) tells Clarence's children, Edward and Margaret Plantagenet, that their father is dead. Edward IV dies and Queen Elizabeth laments. The children criticize Elizabeth for not mourning Clarence's death. Buckingham quietly tells Richard he will pursue their aim to separate Dorset and Grey from their mother.

Queen Elizabeth learns that her sons, Grey and Dorset, have been committed to Pomfret Castle by Richard III and Buckingham. Queen Elizabeth, her son Richard Duke of York, and the Duchess of York flee to sanctuary. Prince Edward V arrives in London and sends Hastings to bring his brother Richard Duke of York out of hiding and to him. Richard III sends Richard Duke of York and his brother Edward V to the Tower of London to "sleep", though he, Buckingham, and Catesby plan to kill the boys and crown Richard III king. In return, Richard III promises Buckingham land. Stanley dreams Richard III beheads Hastings and tells him of it, but Hastings thinks nothing of it. Catesby tries to convince Hastings to side with Richard III, but he refuses. All learn that Rivers, Vaughn, and Grey have been executed at Pomfret castle (same place as Richard II). At a meeting at the Tower, Richard III accuses Hastings of treason and has him beheaded.

Richard III tells Buckingham to start rumors that Edward IV's children are bastards, and furthermore, that Edward IV himself was a bastard. Also, Richard devises a plan to get rid of Clarence's children. The mayor of London comes to Richard III and offers him the throne, which Richard, reluctantly (faking) accepts. The Duchess of York (Grandma), Queen Elizabeth (Mother), and Anne (Aunt of the princes Edward V and his brother Richard Duke of York) mourn because Richard III imprisoned the princes in the Tower of London. Queen Elizabeth tells her son Dorset to leave England to see Richmond (Henry VII), after Stanley brings news that Richard III plans to crown Anne Neville queen, fulfilling Anne's own curse that Richard III's future wife be cursed and miserable.

At court, King Richard III asks Buckingham to murder Prince Edward and his brother, yet Buckingham hesitates to respond favorably. Richard III plans to have Clarence's daughter married off to a poor man to get rid of her. Richard also plans to kill his own wife Anne Neville, then marry Edward IV's daughter, Elizabeth, Richard's own niece. Richard III pays Tyrrel to kill the princes since Buckingham is unwilling to do it. Richard III remembers a prophesy that Richmond (Henry VII, Henry VI's nephew) would be king someday. Anne and the princes are killed, Elizabeth is married off, Clarence's son Edward is killed, and Richard III goes to woo his niece Elizabeth away from Richmond. However, Ely joins Richmond and Buckingham who raise an army against Richard III. Old Queen Margaret (Henry VI's wife) meets the Duchess of York and Queen Elizabeth and tells them to curse Richard III, and they do. Richard III tells Queen Elizabeth that he wants to marry her daughter Elizabeth. Battle ensues, Richmond attacking England and Buckingham losing while defending it. Stanley would help Richmond, but Richard III keeps Stanley's son as insurance against Stanley's defection. Richard III has Buckingham executed. Richmond has Oxford, Blunt, Herbert, and William Brandon as his allies. Richard III's allies are Norfolk, Ratcliffe, Surrey, Catesby, and Northumberland, though they're not very supportive of Richard.

All of Richard III's victims come to him in a dream to haunt and torment him: Henry VI's son Edward; Henry VI; Richard III's brother Clarence; Rivers, Grey, and Vaughn; Hastings; Richard III's nephews Edward V and Richard Duke of York; Richard III's wife Anne Neville; and finally Buckingham. All say, "Despair and die" to Richard III, causing him to go crazy. The same ghosts also visit Richmond and wish him luck. The two armies meet in battle on Bosworth Field, both generals giving orations to their armies before battle. Richard III fights valiantly screaming, "A Horse! A Horse! My kingdom for a horse!" Richmond kills Richard III and Stanley crowns Richmond Henry VII. Henry VII, a Lancaster, marries Edward IV's daughter Elizabeth, a York, ending the War of the Roses by uniting the houses of York and Lancaster.

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Recent Forum Posts on Richard III

Shakespeare's Justice

Hi i am currently studying and i am very intrigued. What i would like to know is your opinion on justice in the play. Richard died on the battle field without proper recount of how he died. Do u think this is Shakespeare's justice? Meaning that after all the atrocities Richard committed, he was never given an honorary burial. In the beginning of the play Richard 's strongest point was his manipulation with words, his power with speech. However during his death he was giving no lines to say. This is justice by Shakespeare as Richard lost the very thing that help him to acquire power. what is your opinion on this?

Double meaning 82-83

Re: III.1, 82-3 I understand that there is a relationship between "Vice" and "Iniquity"; and that they have "two meaning", but I also understand that they both represent the "7 deadly sins"; which is 7 meanings! I can't figure out what all that has to do the gist of his conversation with the prince, or his statement in line 81: without characters (written records) fame lives long".

Relevence for today **HELP**

Hey guys, i was reading Richard III and was intrigued by how the play is similar to our times when it was written well over 400 years ago. I just have just two questions please. How is Richard III relevant to today?:( What interpretations do you discern from the play? Any help will be much appreciated :D


Does Richard manipulate, Buckingham in the very beginning by saying,look at the guilty faces of elizabeth's family even when they're innocent on Clarenece's death.. and when he tries to win Lady Anne.. aand near Lord Mayor regarding Hastings.. what are other ways he manipulates?

beauty in richardiii

hi evryone and thanks for the forum, I'm a french student studying richardiii.The topic of my essai is : beauty in richardiii.I don't know what to say, can anyone help me please. michel

RIII in Production

For reasons that are becoming less clear as I try to wade through this synopsis, I am producing this play with high school students in November. I would love to hear from anyone who has produced this play in high school or college about what they did that worked and what they would warn against. I will be posting my own responses to those questions in December.

Richard III is evil man!

This is a really time consuming play! I guess it's worth the time and the effort if you thinkabout it. My essay i'm writing is going to become a classic, instantly! I just hope i can stay awake to finish it this time since this is my 2nd extension already. But you can't rush greatness! And killing kids is just wrong-o! Richard III was a nerd! I hope that midget creepy crawlers ate his face!


This is now one of my favorite plays written by Shakespeare. In Richard, one of the greatest characters ever was created in literature, and the plot of the play is gripping. I loved it to the end.

Why it shouldn't be confusing

I had to read Richard III several times before I could understand who did what and which Edward was which. The important thing for anyone interested in reading Richard III is that you NEED to review the late branches of the York and Lancaster families. Everything is clear from there. I feel I have enough to do with this play since I've already tested over it at our UIL state academic meet.

Richard's relationship with women

I'm studying this play for my year 12 English coursework and I found at the beginning, the language and structure hard to understand but now, I'm grasping Shakespeare's use of language. The aspect I'm focusing on is Richard's relationship with women, which I think is the most interesting issue throughout the play. Richard is continually shown to use the women to gain and retain the crown. Does any one else agree?

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