Shakespeare and Ethics
Richard III questions
1. Summarize Chapter 9 in Shakespeare and Moral Agency. What is the author’s argument
and how does it apply to Richard?
2. Consider Richard’s opening speech (1.1). When he says he is “determined to prove a
villain,” in what sense does he mean “determined”? That he has made up his own mind?
or that “dissembling nature” (1.1.19) has “determined” his character and fate? or that he
has been providentially “shaped” to be a villain? When he plays the role of “the formal
Vice, Iniquity” (3.1.82), does he decide to play this role or does he mean he is destined to
be God’s evil “scourge and minister”? What difference does it make?
3. Richard can so well perform the affections of love (1.2) and repentance (1.2.204-208)
that he convinces Lady Anne to begin to think well of him, even to marry him. Is he
almost convinced by his own performance (1.2.239)? Can he play the lover, the plotter,
the pious courtier, the villain, even the king so well that he loses track of who he is (see
5.5.131-157)? Does his manipulation of other’s desires finally subvert his own?
4. Richard pretends to believe in nothing, but uses other’s beliefs to set his traps and plots.
He uses superstitious beliefs to imprison Clarence, and to mock the women; he uses
psychology to woo Lady Anne; he uses Hasting’s bland confidence in bloodlines and
divine ordination to trip him up. He appears through much of the play to prove the
effectiveness of utterly cynical self-promotion, playing upon others’ oversimple faith to
use them to his ends. Does the play run any risk of endorsing such a cynical machiavel?
Are we invited to admire Richard’s stunning successes? Does he fall victim to his own
cynicism, or does he just prove unable to keep track of so many different selves?
1. Finish Richard III
2. Reach Chapter 9 in Shakespeare and Moral Agency (it starts on page
129) Link (if link doesn’t work, type book name into library database
3. Read Richard the III and Tyranny Link Here
4. Answer the questions in the Word doc above. MLA format, double
spaced. 20 points.
Submit through turnitin.
Folger Shakespeare Library
From the Director of the Folger Shakespeare
Characters in the Play
From the Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library
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As Richard III opens, Richard is Duke of Gloucester and his brother,
Edward IV, is king. Richard is eager to clear his way to the crown. He
manipulates Edward into imprisoning their brother, Clarence, and then
has Clarence murdered in the Tower. Meanwhile, Richard succeeds in
marrying Lady Anne, even though he killed her father-in-law, Henry
VI, and her husband.
When the ailing King Edward dies, Prince Edward, the older of his
two young sons, is next in line for the throne. Richard houses the
Prince and his younger brother in the Tower. Richard then stages
events that yield him the crown.
After Richard’s coronation, he has the boys secretly killed. He also
disposes of Anne, his wife, in order to court his niece, Elizabeth of
York. Rebellious nobles rally to Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond.
When their armies meet, Richard is defeated and killed. Richmond
becomes Henry VII. His marriage to Elizabeth of York ends the Wars
of the Roses and starts the Tudor dynasty.
Characters in the Play
Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard III
LADY ANNE, widow of Edward, son to the late King Henry VI;
later wife to Richard
KING EDWARD IV,
brother to Richard
QUEEN ELIZABETH, Edward’s wife, formerly the Lady Grey
RICHARD, DUKE OF YORK
GEORGE, DUKE OF CLARENCE,
brother to Edward and Richard
DUCHESS OF YORK,
mother of Richard, Edward, and Clarence
widow of King Henry VI
DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM
WILLIAM, LORD HASTINGS,
Earl of Derby
brother to Queen Elizabeth
sons of Queen Elizabeth by her
MARQUESS OF DORSET
SIR THOMAS VAUGHAN
SIR WILLIAM CATESBY
SIR RICHARD RATCLIFFE
DUKE OF NORFOLK
EARL OF SURREY
EARL OF RICHMOND,
Henry Tudor, later King Henry VII
EARL OF OXFORD
SIR JAMES BLUNT
SIR WALTER HERBERT
SIR WILLIAM BRANDON
JOHN MORTON, BISHOP OF ELY
SIR ROBERT BRAKENBURY,
Lieutenant of the Tower in London
GENTLEMAN, attending Lady Anne
KEEPER in the Tower
LORD MAYOR of London
GHOSTS of King Henry VI, his son Prince Edward, Clarence, Rivers,
Grey, Vaughan, the two Princes, Hastings, Lady Anne, and
Guards, Tressel, Berkeley, Halberds, Gentlemen, Anthony Woodeville
and Lord Scales (brothers to Queen Elizabeth), Two Bishops, Sir
William Brandon, Lords, Attendants, Citizens, Aldermen,
Enter Richard, Duke of Gloucester, alone.
Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this son of York,
And all the clouds that loured upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths,
Our bruisèd arms hung up for monuments,
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting barbèd 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 stamped and want love’s majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinished, 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 see 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 determinèd 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 mewed up
About a prophecy which says that “G”
Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be.
Dive, thoughts, down to my soul. Here Clarence
ACT 1. SC. 1
Enter Clarence, guarded, and Brakenbury.
Brother, good day. What means this armèd guard
That waits upon your Grace?
Tend’ring my person’s safety, hath appointed
This conduct to convey me to the Tower.
Upon what cause?
Because my name is
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 should be new christened in the Tower.
But what’s the matter, Clarence? May I know?
ACT 1. SC. 1
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 crossrow 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
Hath moved his Highness to commit me now.
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 Woodeville, her brother there,
That made him send Lord Hastings to the Tower,
From whence this present day he is delivered?
We are not safe, Clarence; we are not safe.
By heaven, I think there is no man secure
But the Queen’s kindred and night-walking heralds
That trudge betwixt the King and Mistress Shore.
Heard you not what an humble suppliant
Lord Hastings was to her for his delivery?
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 favor with the King,
To be her men and wear her livery.
The jealous o’erworn widow and herself,
Since that our brother dubbed them gentlewomen,
Are mighty gossips in our monarchy.
ACT 1. SC. 1
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 your brother.
Even so. An please your Worship, Brakenbury,
You may partake of anything 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 gentlefolks.
How say you, sir? Can you deny all this?
With this, my lord, myself have naught to do.
Naught to do with Mistress Shore? I tell thee,
He that doth naught with her, excepting one,
Were best to do it secretly, alone.
I do beseech your Grace to pardon me, and withal
Forbear your conference with the noble duke.
We know thy charge, Brakenbury, and will obey.
We are the Queen’s abjects and must obey.—
Brother, farewell. I will unto the King,
And whatsoe’er you will employ me in,
Were it to call King Edward’s widow “sister,”
I will perform it to enfranchise you.
Meantime, this deep disgrace in brotherhood
Touches me deeper than you can imagine.
ACT 1. SC. 1
I know it pleaseth neither of us well.
Well, your imprisonment shall not be long.
I will deliver you or else lie for you.
Meantime, have patience.
I must, perforce. Farewell.
Exit Clarence, Brakenbury, and guard.
Go tread the path that thou shalt ne’er return.
Simple, plain Clarence, I do love thee so
That I will shortly send thy soul to heaven,
If heaven will take the present at our hands.
But who comes here? The new-delivered Hastings?
Enter Lord Hastings.
Good time of day unto my gracious lord.
As much unto my good Lord Chamberlain.
Well are you welcome to the open air.
How hath your Lordship brooked imprisonment?
With patience, noble lord, as prisoners must.
But I shall live, my lord, to give them thanks
That were the cause of my imprisonment.
No doubt, no doubt; and so shall Clarence too,
For they that were your enemies are his
And have prevailed as much on him as you.
More pity that the eagles should be mewed,
Whiles kites and buzzards prey at liberty.
RICHARD What news abroad?
No news so bad abroad as this at home:
ACT 1. SC. 1
The King is sickly, weak, and melancholy,
And his physicians fear him mightily.
Now, by Saint John, that news is bad indeed.
O, he hath kept an evil diet long,
And overmuch consumed his royal person.
’Tis very grievous to be thought upon.
Where is he, in his bed?
HASTINGS He is.
Go you before, and I will follow you.
He cannot live, I hope, and must not die
Till George be packed with post-horse up to heaven.
I’ll in to urge his hatred more to Clarence
With lies well steeled with weighty arguments,
And, if I fail not in my deep intent,
Clarence hath not another day to live;
Which done, God take King Edward to His mercy,
And leave the world for me to bustle in.
For then I’ll marry Warwick’s youngest daughter.
What though I killed her husband and her father?
The readiest way to make the wench amends
Is to become her husband and her father;
The which will I, not all so much for love
As for another secret close intent
By marrying her which I must reach unto.
But yet I run before my horse to market.
Clarence still breathes; Edward still lives and reigns.
When they are gone, then must I count my gains.
ACT 1. SC. 2
Enter the corse of Henry the Sixth on a bier, with
Halberds to guard it, Lady Anne being the mourner,
accompanied by Gentlemen.
FTLN 0167 …
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