Richard III

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Richard III Act 5, Scene 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
At Richard's tent, Richard, Norfolk, Ratcliffe, and Catesby gather. Richard asks the time (six in the evening). He asks after his own armor and horse and is told they're both in order. He tells Ratcliffe to summon Stanley's promised forces and threaten George Stanley's death should they not arrive. He asks for a clock and declares himself cheerless. He retires to his tent. Ratcliffe and Catesby exit.
In contrast to Richmond (who has been divvying his power among his lords and making speeches to rally his troops), Richard is focused entirely on himself: he is concerned only with his own horse and armor and doesn't even ask how his troops or lords are doing.
Themes
Power Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Back at Richmond's tent, Stanley is warmly welcomed and assures Richmond that he will do all he can for him on the battlefield tomorrow, though he must do so subtly as George Stanley will be killed if Richard detects him fighting for Richmond. All exit with Stanley. Richmond prays to God that his forces be protected and victorious on the field. He sleeps.
Again, Richmond shows himself to be a kind and compassionate leader: warm towards Stanley and generous towards his troops, whose wellbeing he prays for. He wishes not just for victory but that his men are protected.
Themes
Power Theme Icon
The Throne and the State Theme Icon
Between the two camps, the ghosts of King Henry VI, Clarence, Rivers, Grey, Vaughan, Hastings, Edward Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, Anne, and Buckingham rise in succession. Each ghost speaks to Richard and then to Richmond. Each calls on Richard to remember him and to think on the ghosts with shame and guilt. Each calls for Richard's death the next day. To Richmond, each ghost gives a kind blessing and prays for his imminent victory. The ghosts vanish.
Each of the ghosts speak aloud the formerly implicit contrast the play has drawn between Richard and Richmond: where Richard is violent, cruel, and undeserving of the throne, Richmond is gentle, kind, and worthy.
Themes
Power Theme Icon
The Throne and the State Theme Icon
Language Theme Icon
Starting from sleep, Richard cries for "another horse" and for someone to tend his wounds. He realizes it was all a dream but remains rattled, vacillating between self-love and self-loathing. The latter starts to win out and he fears that, should he die, no one will pity him for he cannot even pity himself. Ratcliffe enters and announces it's time to get ready for battle. Richard declares that "shadows" (ghosts) have scared him more than thousands of Richmond's soldiers could. Richard and Ratcliffe exit.
Though he tries to ignore the message of his dream, the ghosts' language proves too powerful for Richard to dismiss and leaves him deeply disturbed. Sick with self-loathing, Richard seems even more disempowered than he did when he first stepped on stage a bitter, outcast hunchback.
Themes
Power Theme Icon
Language Theme Icon
Get the entire Richard III LitChart as a printable PDF.
Richard iii.pdf.medium
At the other camp, Richmond wakes and reports to his lords the "fairest-boding dreams" in which the souls of all Richard's victims cheered him on. It is four in the morning, and time to get going. Before they all set forth, Richmond delivers an inspiring speech to his troops, assuring them that God, goodness, saints, and wronged souls are all on their side. He says even Richard's soldiers would rather have Richmond's side win. They set off for battle.
Where Richard was disempowered by the ghosts' words, Richmond is empowered by them and feels his supporters swell to include God and the saints themselves. He reads his dreams as a good omen. For Richmond's camp, the day has begun.
Themes
Power Theme Icon
Language Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon