Richard III


William Shakespeare

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Richard III: Act 4, Scene 1 Summary & Analysis

Read our modern English translation of this scene.
At the Tower, Queen Elizabeth enters on one side with the Duchess and Dorset while Anne, now Richard's wife, and Margaret Plantagenet enter on the other side. All are on their way to see Edward Prince of Wales and the Duke of York, but they are stopped by Brackenbury, who says "the king…I mean the lord protector" Richard has forbidden them to visit. The women protest in indignation but Brackenbury will not relent. He exits.
Brackenbury's slip of the tongue shows just how quickly Richard's plot is playing out –one minute he was the lord protector, but the next minute he'll be king. Richard has ordered the princes' seclusion in order to prepare to make that transition unimpeded by Edward Prince of Wales.
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Stanley enters and summons Anne to Westminster to be crowned Richard's queen. Elizabeth wails in grief at the news of Richard becoming king. Anne, too, is distraught and goes unwillingly, recounting that Richard snared her into marrying him with "honey words." The curse she laid on Richard's future marriage thus ended up falling on her own head. Elizabeth pities Anne. The Duchess plans to die, as the grave is the only place to find peace. All exit.
Indeed, Brackenbury was right to call Richard king – he will be shortly. As Richard's wife, Anne is forced to obey his commands. But she movingly expresses how much she loathes obeying him. Yet though she is eloquent, Anne is also a victim of language: she fell prey to Richard's lies and ended up suffering her own curse.
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