Final play in Shakespeare's masterly dramatization of the struggle for power between the Houses of York and Lancaster. Richard is a stunning archvillain who schemes, seduces, betrays and murders his way to the throne, yet is capable of eliciting sympathy for his plight at the end. Explanatory footnotes and an introductory Note.
About the Author
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564, and his birth is traditionally celebrated on April 23. The facts of his life, known from surviving documents, are sparse. He was one of eight children born to John Shakespeare, a merchant of some standing in his community. William probably went to the King’s New School in Stratford, but he had no university education. In November 1582, at the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior, who was pregnant with their first child, Susanna. She was born on May 26, 1583. Twins, a boy, Hamnet ( who would die at age eleven), and a girl, Judith, were born in 1585. By 1592 Shakespeare had gone to London working as an actor and already known as a playwright. A rival dramatist, Robert Greene, referred to him as “an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers.” Shakespeare became a principal shareholder and playwright of the successful acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (later under James I, called the King’s Men). In 1599 the Lord Chamberlain’s Men built and occupied the Globe Theater in Southwark near the Thames River. Here many of Shakespeare’s plays were performed by the most famous actors of his time, including Richard Burbage, Will Kempe, and Robert Armin. In addition to his 37 plays, Shakespeare had a hand in others, including Sir Thomas More and The Two Noble Kinsmen, and he wrote poems, including Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. His 154 sonnets were published, probably without his authorization, in 1609. In 1611 or 1612 he gave up his lodgings in London and devoted more and more time to retirement in Stratford, though he continued writing such plays as The Tempest and Henry VII until about 1613. He died on April 23 1616, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. No collected edition of his plays was published during his life-time, but in 1623 two members of his acting company, John Heminges and Henry Condell, put together the great collection now called the First Folio.
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list of parts
RICHARD, Duke of Gloucester, later King RICHARD III Duke of CLARENCE, his brother Duke of BUCKINGHAM Lord HASTINGS, the Lord Chamberlain Sir William CATESBY Sir Richard RATCLIFFE Lord LOVELL BRACKENBURY, Lord Lieutenant of the Tower Lord Stanley, Earl of DERBY (sometimes addressed as Derby and sometimes as Stanley, here given speech prefix Derby)
KING EDWARD IV, Gloucester's older brother QUEEN ELIZABETH, his wife PRINCE EDWARD, their older son Duke of YORK, their younger son Lord RIVERS, Elizabeth's brother Lord GREY, Elizabeth's son by her first husband Marquis of DORSET, his brother Sir Thomas VAUGHAN Lady ANNE, Widow of Edward, Prince of Wales, later Duchess of Gloucester QUEEN MARGARET, widow of Henry VI DUCHESS OF YORK, mother to Gloucester, Clarence, Edward IV BOY Clarence's DAUGHTER children Earl of RICHMOND, later King Henry VII Earl of OXFORD Sir JAMES BLUNT Sir WALTER HERBERT Sir WILLIAM BRANDON Duke of NORFOLK Earl of SURREY CARDINAL, Archbishop of Canterbury ARCHBISHOP OF YORK BISHOP OF ELY SIR CHRISTOPHER, a priest Sir John, a PRIEST Lord MAYOR of London Three CITIZENS JAMES TYRRELL Two MURDERERS MESSENGERS KEEPER PURSUIVANT PAGE Ghost of KING HENRY VI Ghost of EDWARD, his son Two Bishops, Soldiers,
Halberdiers, Gentlemen, Lords, Citizens, Attendants
Act 1 Scene 1 running scene 1
Enter Richard, Duke of Gloucester, solus
RICHARD Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer by this son of York:
And all the clouds that loured upon our house In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths,
Our bruisèd arms hung up for monuments,
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrinkled front,
And now, instead of mounting barbèd steeds To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a lady's chamber To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass:
I, that am rudely stamped, and want love's majesty To strut before a wanton ambling nymph:
I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable That dogs bark at me as I halt by them -
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to see my shadow in the sun And descant on mine own deformity.
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determinèd to prove a villain And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams,
To set my brother Clarence and the king In deadly hate the one against the other.
And if King Edward be as true and just As I am subtle, false and treacherous,
This day should Clarence closely be mewed up About a prophecy, which says that 'G'
Of Edward's heirs the murderer shall be.
Dive, thoughts, down to my soul: here Clarence comes.-
Enter Clarence, guarded, and Brackenbury
Brother, good day. What means this armèd guard That waits upon your grace?
CLARENCE His majesty,
Tend'ring my person's safety, hath appointed This conduct to convey me to th'Tower.
RICHARD Upon what cause?
CLARENCE Because my name is George.
RICHARD Alack, my lord, that fault is none of yours.
He should, for that, commit your godfathers.
O, belike his majesty hath some intent That you should be new-christened in the Tower.
But what's the matter, Clarence, may I know?
CLARENCE Yea, Richard, when I know, but I protest As yet I do not. But, as I can learn,
He hearkens after prophecies and dreams,
And from the cross-row plucks the letter G,
And says a wizard told him that by 'G'
His issue disinherited should be:
And, for my name of George begins with G,
It follows in his thought that I am he.
These, as I learn, and such like toys as these,
Hath moved his highness to commit me now.
RICHARD Why, this it is when men are ruled by women:
'Tis not the king that sends you to the Tower,
My lady Grey his wife, Clarence, 'tis she That tempts him to this harsh extremity.
Was it not she and that good man of worship,
Anthony Woodville, her brother there,
That made him send Lord Hastings to the Tower,
From whence this present day he is delivered?
We are not safe, Clarence, we are not safe.
CLARENCE By heaven, I think there is no man secure But the queen's kindred and night-walking heralds That trudge betwixt the king and Mistress Shore.
Heard you not what an humble suppliant Lord Hastings was to her, for his delivery?
RICHARD Humbly complaining to her deity Got my Lord Chamberlain his liberty.
I'll tell you what: I think it is our way,
If we will keep in favour with the king,
To be her men and wear her livery.
The jealous o'erworn widow and herself,
Since that our brother dubbed them gentlewomen,
Are mighty gossips in our monarchy.
BRACKENBURY I beseech your graces both to pardon me:
His majesty hath straitly given in charge That no man shall have private conference,
Of what degree soever, with your brother.
RICHARD Even so, an please your worship, Brackenbury,
You may partake of anything we say.
We speak no treason, man: we say the king Is wise and virtuous, and his noble queen Well struck in years, fair and not jealous.
We say that Shore's wife hath a pretty foot,
A cherry lip, a bonny eye, a passing pleasing tongue,
And that the queen's kindred are made gentlefolks.
How say you sir? Can you deny all this?
BRACKENBURY With this, my lord, myself have nought to do.
RICHARD Naught to do with Mistress Shore? I tell thee,
He that doth naught with her, excepting one,
Were best to do it secretly, alone.
BRACKENBURY What one, my lord?
RICHARD Her husband, knave. Wouldst thou betray me?
BRACKENBURY I do beseech your grace to pardon me,
and withal Forbear your conference with the noble duke.
CLARENCE We know thy charge, Brackenbury, and will obey.
RICHARD We are the queen's abjects, and must obey.-
Brother, farewell. I will unto the king,
And whatsoe'er you will employ me in,
Were it to call King Edward's widow sister,
I will perform it to enfranchise you.
Meantime, this deep disgrace in brotherhood Touches me deeper than you can imagine. Embraces him
CLARENCE I know it pleaseth neither of us well.
RICHARD Well, your imprisonment shall not be long.
I will deliver you or else lie for you.
Meantime, have patience.
CLARENCE I must perforce. Farewell.
Exit Clarence [led by Brackenbury and Guards]
RICHARD Go, tread the path that thou shalt ne'er return.
Simple, plain Clarence, I do love thee so That I will shortly send thy soul to heaven,
If heaven will take the present at our hands.
But who comes here? The new-delivered Hastings?
Enter Lord Hastings
HASTINGS Good time of day unto my gracious lord.
RICHARD As much unto my good Lord Chamberlain.
Well are you welcome to this open air.
How hath your lordship brooked imprisonment?
HASTINGS With patience, noble lord, as prisoners must.
But I shall live, my lord, to give them thanks That were the cause of my imprisonment.
RICHARD No doubt, no doubt. And so shall Clarence too,
For they that were your enemies are his,
And have prevailed as much on him as you.
HASTINGS More pity that the eagles should be mewed,
Whiles kites and buzzards play at liberty.
RICHARD What news abroad?
HASTINGS No news so bad abroad as this at home:
The king is sickly, weak and melancholy,
And his physicians fear him mightily.
RICHARD Now, by Saint John, that news is bad indeed.
O, he hath kept an evil diet long,
And overmuch consumed his royal person.
'Tis very grievous to be thought upon.
Where is he, in his bed?
HASTINGS He is.
RICHARD Go you before, and I will follow you.
He cannot live, I hope, and must not die Till George be packed with post-horse up to heaven.
I'll in to urge his hatred more to Clarence,
With lies well steeled with weighty arguments.
And, if I fail not in my deep intent,
Clarence hath not another day to live:
Which done, God take King Edward to his mercy,
And leave the world for me to bustle in.
For then I'll marry Warwick's youngest daughter.
What though I killed her husband and her father?
The readiest way to make the wench amends Is to become her husband and her father:
The which will I, not all so much for love As for another secret close intent,
By marrying her which I must reach unto.
But yet I run before my horse to market:
Clarence still breathes, Edward still lives and reigns.
When they are gone, then must I count my gains.
Act 1 Scene 2 running scene 1 continues
Enter the corpse of Henry the Sixth with [Gentlemen bearing] halberds to guard it, Lady Anne being the mourner
ANNE Set down, set down your honourable load -
If honour may be shrouded in a hearse -
Whilst I awhile obsequiously lament Th'untimely fall of virtuous Lancaster. [They set down the coffin]
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,
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.
O, cursèd be the hand that made these holes:
Cursed the heart that had the heart to do it:
Cursed the blood that let this blood from hence!
More direful hap betide that hated wretch That makes us wretched by the death of thee 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 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.-
Come, now towards Chertsey with your holy load,
Taken from Paul's to be interrèd there. [They lift the coffin]
And still as you are weary of this weight,
Rest you, whiles I lament King Henry's corpse.
Enter Richard, Duke of Gloucester
RICHARD Stay, you that bear the corpse, and set it down.
ANNE What black magician conjures up this fiend,
To stop devoted charitable deeds?
RICHARD Villains, set down the corpse, or, by Saint Paul,
I'll make a corpse of him that disobeys.
GENTLEMAN My lord, stand back, and let the coffin pass.
RICHARD Unmannered dog, stand'st 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 coffin]
ANNE What, do you tremble? Are you all afraid?
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 be gone.
RICHARD 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,
Filled it with cursing cries and deep exclaims.
If thou delight to view thy heinous deeds,
Behold this pattern of thy butcheries.- ]Uncovers the body]
O, gentlemen, see, see dead Henry's wounds Open their congealed mouths and bleed afresh.-
Blush, blush, thou lump of foul deformity,
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!
O earth, which this blood drink'st, revenge his death!
Either heav'n with lightning strike the murd'rer dead,
Or earth gape open wide and eat him quick,
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:
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,
Of these supposèd crimes to give me leave,
By circumstance but to acquit myself.
ANNE Vouchsafe, defused infection of man,
Of these known evils, but to give me leave,
By circumstance to curse thy cursèd self.
RICHARD 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 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.
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 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 Thou wast provokèd by thy bloody mind,
That never dream'st on aught but butcheries.
Didst thou not kill this king?
RICHARD I grant ye.
ANNE Dost grant me, hedgehog? Then, God grant me too 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,
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 I'll 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,
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 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.
Table of Contents
On the CD
Notes from the Series Editors
In Production: Richard III through the Years by William P. Williams
Richard III and Pop Culture by Douglas Lanier
Richard III BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE edited by William P. Williams
The Cast Speaks: The 2005 Oregon Shakespeare Theatre Production by Marie Macaisa
A Voice Coach's Perspective on Speaking Shakespeare:
Keeping Shakespeare Practical by Andrew Wade
In the Age of Shakespeare by Thomas Garvey
About the Contributors