Richard III Act 1, Scene 2 Summary & Analysis
New! Understand every line of Richard III.Read our modern English translation of this scene.
Lady Anne enters in mourning alongside the funerary procession bearing King Henry VI's coffin. Anne, distraught, furiously curses Richard for killing Henry VI, her father-in-law, and Edward of Westminster, her husband. She hopes that any of Richard's future children will be aborted and any future wife of his will be "made more miserable" by his death than she is now.
Lady Anne is understandably devastated by the double loss of husband and father-in-law. But even in her grief-stricken state, she's able to articulate her anger and misery into an eloquent and moving attack on Richard.
Richard enters and calls a halt to the procession, incensing Anne. She berates Richard, calling him "foul devil" and asking God and earth to kill him. Richard praises Anne's beauty, tries to reason with her gently, and claims that he didn't kill her husband, his brother King Edward did. Anne continues to curse and spite him, calling him a liar. Richard changes tacks. He claims that, in fact, it was Anne's beauty that caused Henry and Edward's deaths because he, hopelessly in love with her, killed her husband in order to marry her. Anne spits at him but Richard insists he is in love with her and Anne eventually comes around, hesitantly taking his ring. He pleases Anne by promising he will properly inter Henry VI's noble body himself. Anne exits. Richard sends the funerary procession off without him.
Anne is as articulate as Richard but she lacks his manipulative tactics. Anne speaks eloquently and honestly, but Richard is willing to twist his eloquence to suit whatever "truth" is most convenient – thus, he blames a murder he committed on Edward to make himself look better and, when this doesn't work, he admits he committed the murder, but pretends the act was motivated by love for Anne. Richard gets the upper hand over Anne by dishonest means.
Alone on stage, Richard gleefully marvels at his success with Anne. "Was ever woman in this humour woo'd? Was ever woman in this humour won? I'll have her; but I will not keep her long" he gloats. "I do mistake my person all this while," he reflects [for] "she finds, although I cannot, myself to be a marvelous proper man." He plans to buy new clothes. "I am crept in favour with myself," he muses, then sets off to see Henry VI into his grave before returning to "my love."
Richard's boasting once Anne is gone shows just how disingenuous his claims about being lovesick was – it's all just a power game to him. Yet, Richard is also here lying to himself – Anne may have relented and taken the ring but she certainly did not express admiration for Richard or call him anything close to a ‘marvelous proper man.'