Richard III by William Shakespeare

Richard III

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subjects: Plays: Classic & Pre-20th Century

Description

An account of the brutal and bloody rise of King Richard III to the throne, Shakespeare’s play depicts the short-lived monarch’s ruthless campaign for power, which resulted in the deaths of two of his brothers. Disfigured, hunchbacked, and cruel, King Richard’s unpopularity with the nobility crippled his reign, resulting in his ultimate demise.


124 pages, with a reading time of ~4.0 hours (31,225 words), and first published in 1592. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, .

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Excerpt

SCENE I

London. A street.

[Enter GLOUCESTER, solus]

GLOUCESTER

Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer by this sun of York; And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house In the deep bosom of the ocean buried. Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths; Our bruised arms hung up for monuments; Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings, Our dreadful marches to delightful measures. Grim-visaged war hath smooth’d his wrinkled front; And now, instead of mounting barded steeds To fright the souls of fearful adversaries, He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber To the lascivious pleasing of a lute. But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks, Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass; I, that am rudely stamp’d, and want love’s majesty To strut before a wanton ambling nymph; I, that am curtail’d of this fair proportion, Cheated of feature by dissembling nature, Deformed, unfinish’d, sent before my time Into this breathing world, scarce half made up, And that so lamely and unfashionable That dogs bark at me as I halt by them; 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, To set my brother Clarence and the king In deadly hate the one against the other: And if King Edward be as true and just As I am subtle, false and treacherous, This day should Clarence closely be mew’d up, About a prophecy, which says that ‘G’ Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be. Dive, thoughts, down to my soul: here Clarence comes.

[Enter CLARENCE, guarded, and BRAKENBURY]

Brother, good day; what means this armed guard That waits upon your grace?

CLARENCE

His majesty Tendering my person’s safety, hath appointed This conduct to convey me to the Tower.

GLOUCESTER

Upon what cause?

CLARENCE

                Because my name is George.

GLOUCESTER

Alack, my lord, that fault is none of yours; He should, for that, commit your godfathers: O, belike his majesty hath some intent That you shall be new-christen’d in the Tower. But what’s the matter, Clarence? may I know?

CLARENCE

Yea, Richard, when I know; for I protest As yet I do not: but, as I can learn, He hearkens after prophecies and dreams; And from the cross-row plucks the letter G. And says a wizard told him that by G His issue disinherited should be; And, for my name of George begins with G, It follows in his thought that I am he. These, as I learn, and such like toys as these Have moved his highness to commit me now.

GLOUCESTER

Why, this it is, when men are ruled by women: ‘Tis not the king that sends you to the Tower: My Lady Grey his wife, Clarence, ‘tis she That tempers him to this extremity. Was it not she and that good man of worship, Anthony Woodville, her brother there, That made him send Lord Hastings to the Tower, From whence this present day he is deliver’d? We are not safe, Clarence; we are not safe.

CLARENCE

By heaven, I think there’s no man is secure But the queen’s kindred and night-walking heralds That trudge betwixt the king and Mistress Shore. Heard ye not what an humble suppliant Lord hastings was to her for his delivery?

GLOUCESTER

Humbly complaining to her deity Got my lord chamberlain his liberty. I’ll tell you what; I think it is our way, If we will keep in favour with the king, To be her men and wear her livery: The jealous o’erworn widow and herself, Since that our brother dubb’d them gentlewomen. Are mighty gossips in this monarchy.

BRAKENBURY

I beseech your graces both to pardon me; His majesty hath straitly given in charge That no man shall have private conference, Of what degree soever, with his brother.

GLOUCESTER

Even so; an’t please your worship, Brakenbury, You may partake of any thing we say: We speak no treason, man: we say the king Is wise and virtuous, and his noble queen Well struck in years, fair, and not jealous; We say that Shore’s wife hath a pretty foot, A cherry lip, a bonny eye, a passing pleasing tongue; And that the queen’s kindred are made gentle-folks: How say you sir? Can you deny all this?

BRAKENBURY

With this, my lord, myself have nought to do.

GLOUCESTER

Naught to do with mistress Shore! I tell thee, fellow, He that doth naught with her, excepting one, Were best he do it secretly, alone.

BRAKENBURY

What one, my lord?

GLOUCESTER

Her husband, knave: wouldst thou betray me?