Richard III


William Shakespeare

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Richard III: Act 2, Scene 3 Summary & Analysis

Read our modern English translation of this scene.
On a London street, three citizens discuss King Edward's death. Two are optimistic about young Edward Prince of Wales future reign, pointing to the example of King Henry VI crowned at nine months old. Yet the third protests that baby Henry had "virtuous uncles" to protect his grace whereas young Edward's maternal and fraternal uncles are factious and include the dangerous Richard and haughty relatives of Elizabeth. "…were they to be rul'd, and not to rule," the citizen speculates, "This sickly land might solace as before." They exit.
The first of the play's scenes featuring common people's opinions on courtly power struggles. The citizens' conversation shows that the general population knows what a dangerous, evil character Richard is, and that they consider him a poisonous influence on the health of the state. Calling the land "sickly" refers to the oft-used metaphor of political state as human body. The citizens here seem to believe that neither Elizabeth's inner circle nor Richard is fit to rule, and that only if all of them were ruled by someone else would the state be "healthy."
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