Sir James Tyrrell, who has been sent by Richard to murder the princes in the Tower, describes the sad scene of the two young princes before their deaths. He tells the audience about it using visual sensory language, and pathos:
[...] girdling one another
Within their alabaster innocent arms.
Their lips were four red roses on a stalk,
And in their summer beauty kissed each other.
A book of prayers on their pillow lay [...]
Shakespeare employs visual imagery to create a poignant picture of the sleeping princes. The use of the word “alabaster” to describe their arms conveys a sense of purity and innocence. Alabaster is a kind of white stone, used for carving fine statues and often ornate gravestones. The marble-white, unblemished purity of the little boys' bodies is tragically juxtaposed with the violence they are about to experience.
The metaphor of their lips being like “four red roses on a stalk” in their “summer beauty” further highlights their youth. Shakespeare is emphasizing here that Tyrrell knows he’s about to cut short innocent lives. The sleeping children entangled together are about to be wiped out, regardless of how adorable they are.
Shakespeare makes an intense appeal to the audience's emotions in this passage, using pathos. They are reminded of the princes’ innocence and vulnerability. The knowledge that the children are to be killed creates an overwhelming sense of tragedy and injustice. The reference to the book of prayers on their pillow also adds a religious dimension to the scene, suggesting that the princes are pious and innocent in the eyes of God. This further accentuates the heinousness of Richard’s actions in ordering them to be murdered. Through this combination of visual imagery and pathos, Shakespeare makes it clear that even a cold-hearted killer like Tyrrell can be moved by extreme beauty and innocence. It forces the audience to face the grim reality of the princes’ fate. It's also another place in the play where the colors white and red collide. The princes' "alabaster" bodies, their "red ros[e]" lips, and the blood that it's implied Tyrell will spill are a callback to the warring colors of York and Lancaster.