Richard III

Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
Relentlessly power-hungry, Richard is not afraid to betray, lie, and murder to advance himself towards the throne. He is a smooth talker, a skilled actor, and a fickle friend and all around him come to fear his petty, bloody ways. The play tracks his swift ascent to King of England and equally swift fall at Richmond's hand. He is a York and his heraldic symbol is the boar.

Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III Quotes in Richard III

The Richard III quotes below are all either spoken by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III or refer to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Richard III published in 1996.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this son of York

Related Characters: Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III (speaker)
Page Number: 1.1.1-2
Explanation and Analysis:

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Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy 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 determined to prove a villain,
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunken prophecies, libels, and dreams…

Related Characters: Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III (speaker), King Edward IV
Page Number: 1.1.24-33
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

Poor key-cold figure of a holy king,
Pale ashes of the house of Lancaster,
Thou bloodless remnant of that royal blood

Related Characters: Lady Anne, Queen Anne (speaker), Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III
Page Number: 1.2.5-7
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 1, Scene 3 Quotes

Cannot a plain man live, and think no harm,
But thus his simple truth must be abus'd
With silken, sly, insinuating Jacks?

Related Characters: Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III (speaker), Queen Elizabeth
Page Number: 1.3.52-43
Explanation and Analysis:

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Thou elvish-marked, abortive, rooting hog,
Thou that wast sealed in thy nativity
The slave of nature and the son of hell.

Related Characters: Queen Margaret (speaker), Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III
Related Symbols: The Boar
Page Number: 1.3.239-241
Explanation and Analysis:

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And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With odd old ends stol'n forth of Holy Writ;
And seem a saint when most I play the devil.

Related Characters: Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III (speaker)
Page Number: 1.3.356-358
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

But he, poor man, by your first order died,
And that a winged Mercury did bear:
Some tardy cripple bore the countermand,
That came too lag to see him buried.

Related Characters: Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III (speaker), King Edward IV, George, Duke of Clarence
Page Number: 2.1.90-93
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2, Scene 4 Quotes

Ay me, I see the ruin of my house!
The tiger now hath seiz'd the gentle hind;
Insulting tyranny begins to jet
Upon the innocent and aweless throne.
Welcome, destruction, blood, and massacre!
I see, as in a map, the end of all.

Related Characters: Queen Elizabeth (speaker), Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III
Page Number: 2.4.54-59
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

Indeed, I am no mourner for that news,
Because they have been still my adversaries;
But that I'll give my voice on Richard's side
To bar my master's heirs in true descent,
God knows I will not do it to the death.

Related Characters: Lord Hastings (speaker), Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III, Edward, Prince of Wales
Page Number: 3.2.53-57
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3, Scene 5 Quotes

What! think you we are Turks or Infidels?
Or that we would, against the form of law,
Proceed thus rashly in the villain's death
But that the extreme peril of the case,
The peace of England and our person's safety,
Enforc'd us to this execution?

Related Characters: Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III (speaker)
Page Number: 3.5.42-47
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3, Scene 6 Quotes

Who is so gross
That cannot see this palpable device?
Yet who's so bold but says he sees it not?
Bad is the world; and all will come to nought,
When such ill dealing must be seen in thought.

Related Characters: Scrivener (speaker), Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III, Lord Hastings, Sir William Catesby
Page Number: 3.6.10-14
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3, Scene 7 Quotes

No, so God help me, they spake not a word;
But, like dumb statues or breathing stones,
Star'd each on other, and look'd deadly pale.
Which when I saw, I reprehended them,
And ask'd the mayor what meant this willful silence.

Related Characters: Duke of Buckingham (speaker), Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III, Edward, Prince of Wales, Duke of York
Page Number: 3.7.24-28
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 4, Scene 1 Quotes

My woman's heart
Grossly grew captive to his honey words
And proved the subject of my own soul's curse,
Which ever since hath kept my eyes from rest

Related Characters: Lady Anne, Queen Anne (speaker), Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III
Page Number: 4.1.83-86
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 4, Scene 2 Quotes

I must be married to my brother's daughter,
Or else my kingdom stands on brittle glass.
Murder her brothers, and then marry her!
Uncertain way of gain! But I am in
So far in blood that sin will pluck on sin:
Tear-falling pity dwells not in this eye.

Related Characters: Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III (speaker), King Edward IV, Edward, Prince of Wales, Duke of York
Page Number: 4.2.63-68
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 4, Scene 4 Quotes

I had an Edward, till a Richard kill'd him;
I had a Harry, till a Richard kill'd him:
Thou hadst an Edward, till a Richard kill'd him;
Thou hadst a Richard, till a Richard kill'd him.

Related Characters: Queen Margaret (speaker), Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III, Queen Elizabeth, King Edward IV, Ghost of King Henry VI, Ghost of Edward of Westminster
Page Number: 4.4.42-45
Explanation and Analysis:

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Forbear to sleep the nights, and fast the days;
Compare dead happiness with living woe;
Think that thy babes were fairer than they were,
And he that slew them fouler than he is:
Bettering thy loss makes the bad causer worse:
Revolving this will teach thee how to curse.

Related Characters: Queen Margaret (speaker), Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III, Queen Elizabeth
Page Number: 4.4.121-126
Explanation and Analysis:

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Bear her my true love's kiss; and so, farewell.
[Exit QUEEN ELIZABETH]
Relenting fool, and shallow, changing woman!

Related Characters: Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III (speaker), Queen Elizabeth
Page Number: 4.4.453-454
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 5, Scene 2 Quotes

The wretched, bloody, and usurping boar,
That spoil'd your summer fields and fruitful vines,
Swills your warm blood like wash, and makes his trough
In your embowelled bosoms—this foul swine
Is now even in the centre of this isle

Related Characters: Richmond, King Henry VII (speaker), Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III
Related Symbols: The Boar
Page Number: 5.2.7-12
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 5, Scene 3 Quotes

What do I fear? Myself? There's none else by.
Richard loves Richard; that is, I am I.
Is there a murderer here? No-yes, I am.
Then fly. What, from myself? Great reason why-
Lest I revenge. What, myself upon myself!
Alack, I love myself. Wherefore? For any good
That I myself have done unto myself?
O, no! Alas, I rather hate myself
For hateful deed committed by myself!
I am a villain; yet I lie, I am not.
Fool, of thyself speak well. Fool, do not flatter.

Related Characters: Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III (speaker)
Page Number: 5.3.194-204
Explanation and Analysis:

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The sun will not be seen to-day;
The sky doth frown and lour upon our army.
I would these dewy tears were from the ground.
Not shine to-day! Why, what is that to me
More than to Richmond? For the selfsame heaven
That frowns on me looks sadly upon him.

Related Characters: Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III (speaker), Richmond, King Henry VII
Related Symbols: The Clock
Page Number: 5.3.299-304
Explanation and Analysis:

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Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III Character Timeline in Richard III

The timeline below shows where the character Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III appears in Richard III. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
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Richard of Gloucester enters alone and sets the scene, opening with one of Shakespeare's most famous... (full context)
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If he "cannot prove a lover," Richard thinks, he is "determined to prove a villain, and hate the idle pleasures of these... (full context)
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...Tower's lieutenant Brackenbury in armed escort to the Tower (the king's prison). He explains to Richard that he is under arrest because his given name is George and Edward has been... (full context)
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Brackenbury interrupts, saying that King Edward has forbidden anyone to speak privately with Clarence. Richard replies that there's nothing private about their talk and welcomes Brackenbury into it – "we... (full context)
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Hastings enters and Richard congratulates him on his freedom. Hastings is dismayed to hear that Clarence is imprisoned. He... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
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...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... (full context)
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Richard enters and calls a halt to the procession, incensing Anne. She berates Richard, calling him... (full context)
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Alone on stage, Richard gleefully marvels at his success with Anne. "Was ever woman in this humour woo'd? Was... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
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...Palace. Rivers and Grey try to comfort Elizabeth but she fears that, should Edward die, Richard—"a man that loves not me, nor none of you"—will seize power because her sons, the... (full context)
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...having just visited King Edward. They report that the king wants to make peace between Richard and Queen Elizabeth's brothers. Richard enters complaining that Elizabeth and her friends have slandered him... (full context)
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...under her breath, accusing Elizabeth of stealing the throne that belongs to her, and accusing Richard of killing her husband (Henry VI) and son (Edward of Westminster). Meanwhile, Richard accuses Elizabeth... (full context)
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Queen Margaret's accusations grow louder and Richard notices her. He asks why she is in England since she was banished on pain... (full context)
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...die before they reach the age her son was when he was killed. She curses Richard to be "be-gnaw[ed] by "the worm of conscience," to mistake his friends for traitors and... (full context)
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Two murderers enter to report to Richard. Richard sends them off to kill Clarence, but warns them to do it quickly because... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
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...and thus Edward can't order him murdered for that. When Clarence tells the murderers that Richard will reward them for sparing his life, they reveal that Richard himself has ordered the... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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...others to echo them, which they do too. Edward notes that they now only need Richard to swear to keep peace. (full context)
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Richard enters and, at King Edward's prompt, duly swears to keep friendly peace and claims he... (full context)
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Richard notes to Buckingham how pale "the guilty kindred" of Queen Elizabeth looked upon hearing Clarence... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
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In another room in the Palace, the Duchess of York (mother of King Edward, Richard, and Clarence) weeps beside Margaret Plantagenet and Edward Plantagenet (Clarence's children). When they ask her... (full context)
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...to urge Queen Elizabeth to have her son, young Edward Prince of Wales, crowned immediately. Richard, Buckingham, Stanley, Hastings, and Sir Ratcliffe enter and discuss how young Edward should travel to... (full context)
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Buckingham refers to some prior private conference between the two of them, telling Richard they must be present in the party chaperoning young Edward Prince of Wales trip so... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
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...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... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
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...young Duke of York hopes he has not grown faster than his older brother because Richard, his uncle, told him nice flowers grow slow and weeds grow fast. The Duchess says... (full context)
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...messenger enters and announces that Rivers, Grey, and Sir Thomas Vaughan have been imprisoned by Richard and Buckingham. He doesn't know for what offense. Elizabeth laments "the ruin of my house"... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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On a street in London, Edward Prince of Wales, Richard, Buckingham, and Cardinal Bouchier (the Archbishop of Canterbury) enter and Richard welcomes the prince to... (full context)
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Richard suggests that Edward Prince of Wales reside in the Tower (presumably so that Richard can... (full context)
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Alone, Richard, Buckingham, and Catesby confer about their secret plan to make Richard King of England. They... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
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...a.m. with an urgent message from Lord Stanley recounting a dream in which "the boar" [Richard's heraldic symbol] knocked off Stanley's helmet and decapitated him. That dream, combined with the ominous... (full context)
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Catesby then enters and floats the idea of Richard taking the throne to Hastings. Hastings is appalled. Catesby says Richard hopes for Hastings support... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
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At Pomfret Castle, Ratcliffe (one of Richard's minions) enters with a Guard conducting Rivers, Grey, and Vaughan to execution. Rivers tells Ratcliffe... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 4
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...at the Tower, Buckingham, Stanley, Hastings, the Bishop of Ely, Ratcliffe, Lord Lovel (another of Richard's minions) and others sit around a table while Officers of the Council stand attendant. The... (full context)
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Richard sends the Bishop of Ely off to get strawberries for everyone, then takes Buckingham aside... (full context)
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Richard and Buckingham return and Richard asks everyone what should be done to those who "conspire... (full context)
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...him has been fulfilled. Ratcliffe and Lovel shush Hastings and hurry him along. "O bloody Richard!—miserable England!" Hastings cries, "I prophesy the fearfull'st time to thee…" All exit. (full context)
Act 3, Scene 5
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Richard sends Buckingham after the Lord Mayor to spread rumors amongst the citizenry that young Edward... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 7
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At Baynard's Castle in London, Buckingham reports to Richard that the citizens reacted to the rumors Buckingham spread with complete silence, and that they... (full context)
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In light of the public's reaction, Richard and Buckingham contrive to make it seem to the public that Richard does not want... (full context)
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...talks with the Lord Mayor and others, Catesby enters with a message for Buckingham from Richard stating that Buckingham should visit on another day because Richard is currently deep in holy... (full context)
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Richard enters in a gallery above, flanked by two Bishops. Catesby returns. Buckingham points out to... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
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...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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
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At the Palace, Richard is now King and is surrounded by Buckingham, Catesby, Ratcliffe, Lovel, a Page, and others.... (full context)
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...enters and reports that Dorset has run off to the Earl of Richmond (a Lancaster). Richard tells Catesby to spread a rumor that Anne is deathly ill and to find some... (full context)
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The Page enters with Tyrrel, who gladly agrees to kill at Richard's bidding. Richard sends Tyrrel off to kill the princes. Buckingham enters ready to share his... (full context)
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Richard finally acknowledges Buckingham by asking him for the time, saying that "like a Jack, thou... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
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...His hit men were reluctant to murder such innocent children, but went through with it. Richard enters and is pleased to hear the princes have been killed. He promises to reward... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
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...older than theirs. She compares theirs to her own: "I had an Edward, till a Richard kill'd him…Thou hadst an Edward, till a Richard kill'd him" etc. The Duchess and Margaret... (full context)
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Richard enters and the Duchess venomously berates him, saying she wishes she'd never borne him. Richard... (full context)
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Elizabeth dittoes the Duchess' curse and starts to leave but Richard stops her and says he wants her daughter. Elizabeth hotly declares she will do anything... (full context)
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Elizabeth rebuts all Richard's attempts to coax her into taking his side, calling him an evil liar, a godless... (full context)
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...Messengers enter in succession to report that different families around England are raising armies against Richard and that Buckingham's army has been scattered by flooding. Another Messenger enters and reports that... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 5
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...to tell Richmond that, though he wholeheartedly supports Richmond, he cannot yet send aid because Richard has his son, George Stanley, and will behead him if he finds out about Stanley's... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
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On Bosworth Field outside Leicester, Richard feels optimistic about the next day's battle and orders his troops, the Duke of Norfolk,... (full context)
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At Richard's tent, Richard, Norfolk, Ratcliffe, and Catesby gather. Richard asks the time (six in the evening).... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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Starting from sleep, Richard cries for "another horse" and for someone to tend his wounds. He realizes it was... (full context)
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...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.... (full context)
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At Richard's camp, Richard, Ratcliffe, attendants, and soldiers are gathered. A clock strikes and Richard asks whether... (full context)
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Norfolk enters and tells Richard to charge the field. Richard quickly announces his battle plan to his men. Norfolk shows... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 4
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...Norfolk enters with his forces and Catesby calls to him for help. He says that Richard's horse has been killed but that Richard fights madly on by foot, determined to kill... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 5
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At another part of the field, Richard and Richmond enter, fighting each other, Richmond then kills Richard, and Richmond exits as Richard's... (full context)