Richard III In Plain and Simple English (Digital Download)
A Dance of Power and Deception

In the grand halls of England's history stands Richard III, a figure of cunning ambition and unrelenting pursuit of power. Shakespeare paints this historical figure in a play, blending tragedy with real-life events, creating a masterpiece that can baffle many with its intricate Old English prose.

Witness the tumultuous rise and the ephemeral rule of Richard III, a king whose name is synonymous with political scheming and treachery. Dive deep into a world of alliances, betrayals, and plots, where the hunger for the throne overshadows morality.

Feeling lost in Shakespeare's world? BookCaps comes to the rescue! Introducing a contemporary rendition of "Richard III", this version keeps the spirit of the original intact while making it accessible to modern readers. Alongside the authentic Shakespearean text, this translation serves as a bridge between eras, ensuring that the brilliance of this historical tragedy shines through, clear and undiminished. Whether a Shakespeare aficionado or a newcomer to the Bard's work, this book promises an engaging journey through the annals of English royalty.






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The play begins with Richard giving the background and setting the scene. Richard's brother, Edward IV, is ruling England. With his reign, the civil war that had been plaguing the country, the war between the Lancasters and the Yorks, was halted, and England experienced a time of peace. Richard, however, a deformed hunchback and jealous of others’ power, decides to try and claim the throne for himself. In order to do this, he needs to get rid of both his brothers: Clarence and Edward. Edward is ill, and will die soon, and Richard has Clarence sent to prison.

​At the funeral of Henry VI, Richard woos Lady Anne, a widow. At first Anne curses Richard, but ends up accepting his offer due to his powers of manipulation. Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth is worrying about what will happen when her husband, the King, dies. Richard appears on the scene and accuses Elizabeth of sending Clarence to prison. The Queen denies the accusations and leaves. Two murderers hired by Richard come in, and Richard tells them to kill Clarence in his cell.

In the tower, Clarence dreamed that Richard threw him off the edge of a ship. He does not want to believe that his brother betrayed him, but then the two murderers show up. Clarence pleads, to no avail, and the murderers return to tell Richard the news.

The King is holding a council to eradicate all old family grudges and bring peace between the Lancasters and Yorks. Richard comes in with news that Clarence is dead, and the King becomes sick with grief. The next day the Duchess of York and Elizabeth lament the King's death. They agree that the young prince Edward must be brought to London. The citizens are aware of the power struggle between the two noble families and discuss the news of Edward IV's death in the streets.

On the road, Richard has Elizabeth's kinsman arrested. Realizing Richard is going to try and take the throne, Elizabeth takes sanctuary. When the young Edward arrives in the city, he is suspicious of Richard, but goes to the tower along with his brother. Now Richard has amassed some followers, and plots with Buckingham and Catesby to see if Lord Hastings is sympathetic to his side. He decides to hold a council and invites the lords.

The next day at Hasting's house, Stanley warns Hastings about going to the council. Hastings, however, is trusting. When Catesby hints that Richard might ascend the throne, Hastings remains loyal to Edward IV. Later that day at the council, Richard has Hastings arrested and executed.

Led by Buckingham, a crowd gathers in Richard's house. Richard is offered the crown, and he refuses it, pretending to be modest. In the end,  he takes it and is crowned King. After the coronation, Richard has the two young princes killed. Buckingham leaves Richard because of this and joins Richard's enemy and major contender for the throne, Richmond.

Universally hated, Richard is cursed by his mother and deceived by Queen Elizabeth. He wants to marry the young Elizabeth in order to cement his tie to the throne, but the Queen secretly promises her daughter to Richmond.

Richmond and Richard both amass armies, and travel to a field of battle. The night before the fight, the ghosts of all those Richard has killed appear on stage. The ghosts curse Richard and tell Richmond that he will be victorious. The next morning Richard is terrified. He faces Richmond in battle after losing his horse, and dies. Richmond is crowned king and vows to marry Elizabeth, thereby uniting the two houses and bringing peace to England.


Succession of Kings
Henry VI - killed before the play takes place, the subject of the prequels
Edward IV - succeeded Henry, brought temporary peace
Richard III - main character, conspires to ascend the throne
Henry VII - Richmond, unites the families and begins the Tudor dynasty

Family Ties
Henry VI's family - previous king
    Prince Edward - Henry's son, killed before the play takes place
    Lady Anne - Edward's widow
    Margaret - Henry VI's widow
Duchess of York's family - mother to the royal family
    Edward - Son, King Edward IV
    Clarence - Son
    Richard - Son
Queen Elizabeth's family - Queen to King Edward IV
    Edward - son, rightful heir to the throne
    Duke of York - youngest son
    Elizabeth - daughter
    Dorset and Grey - sons from Elizabeth's first marriage
    Rivers - brother

Richard, Duke of Gloster
The main character of the play, Richard is King Edward IV's hunchback brother. Jealous of those who have power and are able to enjoy the peaceful court life, Richard decides to gain power by ascending the throne and is willing to kill anyone who gets in his way, including his own family. A master manipulator, Richard gets his way with the power of his words. He manipulates Lady Anne into marrying him after he killed her previous husband and gains followers through his well-placed lies. In the end, even Richard realizes what a villain he has become, as he realizes he is the murderer in his own tent.

Richard's Men
Richard's right-hand man who helps him becomes King. Eventually, Buckingham hesitates when Richard asks him to kill the two young princes, and runs away because he believes Richard will have him killed. Eventually, Buckingham is arrested and executed and realizes his mistake before he dies.
Ratcliff, Catesby, Norfolk, Surrey
Lords that serve Richard throughout the play.

King Edward IV
Richard's eldest brother, King Edward IV succeeded King Henry VI in the prequels. Under his reign, England experienced a time of peace. At the beginning of the play, it is common knowledge that Edward is ill and will die soon. As Edward goes closer towards death, he wishes to unite the warring families of Lancaster and York in order to create a lasting peace. However, Richard does not allow this to happen.

Queen Elizabeth
The wife of King Edward IV, Elizabeth does not trust Richard and knows him to be a villain from the very beginning of the play. A caring mother, Elizabeth wants nothing more than to protect her remaining family from Richard's murderous intent. She proves herself to be Richard's match in wit, as she is capable of standing up to his manipulation and, in the end, manipulates him.

Royal Children of Edward and Elizabeth
Prince Edward
The eldest son of King Edward and Elizabeth, Prince Edward is brought to London after his father's death in order to become the new king. He is only present for one scene, but he proves himself to be an intelligent boy. He immediately distrusts Richard, but still goes to the tower where he is killed by Richard's hired murderers.
Duke of York
The younger son of Edward and Elizabeth, the Duke of York stayed in London while his brother went abroad. Just like the rest of his family, the Duke of York can hold his own against Richard's wits. For this reason, Richard views the young boy as dangerous. He is killed along with his older brother in the tower.
Young Elizabeth
Although she is never seen, the young Elizabeth nevertheless plays an important part in the play. As the last remaining York of royal blood, the young Elizabeth is the only one capable of uniting the houses through the bloodlines. Richard attempts to gain her hand by manipulating her mother, but the young Elizabeth is promised to Richmond.
Queen Elizabeth's Kin
Dorset and Grey are Elizabeth's sons from her first marriage. Rivers is her brother, and Vaughn is a close friend of the family. The four of them go to bring the young Prince Edward back to London, but are arrested during the trip on Richard's command and eventually executed. They accept their deaths, and come back at the end to curse Richard.
Lords Loyal to King Edward IV
After the death of King Edward IV, Richard tries to get Hastings on his side. When he fails, he has Hasting's beheaded. In the end, Hasting's realizes he was too quick to trust Richard and comes back to curse him at the end of the play.
Although Stanley pretends to support Richard, he is truly loyal to King Edward. He uses his influence with Richard to pass along messages and valuable information to Richmond, even though his son is being held hostage to ensure his good behavior.
George, Duke of Clarence
The middle of the York brothers, Clarence has a trusting, happy nature. He believes that Richard is on his side, and is not willing to think that his own brother betrayed him. Although while in prison he dreams that Richard pushed him off the edge of a ship, even when the murderers come to the room and tell him that Richard was the one who sent them, Clarence still does not believe. Clarence pleads for his life so well that one of the murderers decides not to kill him. However, the other ends his life in the prison cell.
Duchess of York
The mother of Richard, Clarence and Edward, the Duchess of York appears throughout the play. She sympathizes with Queen Elizabeth, although she repeatedly says that her grief is more than the Queen's. Eventually, prompted by Richard's evil actions and Margaret's curses, the Duchess of York curses Richard after he becomes King. After cursing ever giving birth to him, she vows never to speak to him again.
Queen Margaret
Henry VI's widow, Margaret was supposedly banished from court. However, since she has nothing left to lose she remains in London in order to wait for her revenge to be realized. As the character in the play who has lost everything, Margaret's curses are powerful. Although everyone dismisses her as crazy, they eventually recognize her power. After her revenge is realized, she flees to France to live out the rest of her life.
Lady Anne
The deceased Prince Edward's widow, Lady Anne first appears attending the funeral of Henry VI. Here, Richard decides to woo Anne with sweet talk. He claims that he only killed Edward because of Anne's beauty, and, unbelievably, convinces her to marry him. Their marriage is not a happy one, however, and Anne reveals that Richard is plagued by nightmares in his sleep. She realizes that Richard will kill her once he has no more use for her and comes back to curse him with the other ghosts after her death.
After Edward IV's death, Richmond is the other contender for the throne of England. He is shown as the ideal leader, always treating his commanders with respect and leading his army with courage and valor. Eventually, Richmond kills Richard and succeeds the throne. He marries the young Elizabeth, uniting the two houses and becoming King Henry VII. Richmond began the Tudor dynasty, which was still in power during Shakespeare's day. Many scholars believe that is why Richmond was portrayed as the savior and Richard the villain. 



London. A street


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 chang'd to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visag'd war hath smooth'd his wrinkled front,
And now, instead of mounting barbed 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 shap'd 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,
Deform'd, 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?

Now this miserable time
has been made wonderful by Edward;
and all the clouds that were hanging over our family
have sunk back into the sea.
Now our foreheads carry victorious wreaths,
our battered weapons are hung up as memorials,
great chaos has been changed to pleasant greetings,
grim marches to delightful music.
The terrible face of war has been smoothed over:
and now, instead of mounting armoured horses
to terrify his fearful enemies,
he dances lightly in a lady's bedroom
to the sexy music of a lute.
But I was not made for those flirtatious games,
or to look in the mirror of love;
I am poorly made and don't have the
wherewithal to dance in front of a amorously inclined lass:
I, who haven't been given the correct proportions,
who has been cheated of looks by deceitful Nature,
deformed, unfinished, sent into the world only
half made, before my time–
and I am so lame and unfashionable
that dogs bark at me if I stopnear them–
why, I, in this time of songs of peace,
have no pleasure to pass away the time,
unless it is to see my shadow on the ground,
and sing a song about my own deformities.
And therefore, since I cannot be a lover
to suit these pleasant days,
I am determined I will be a villain,
and despise the idle pleasures of others.
I have constructed a plot, with a dangerous beginning,
through drunken prophesies, lies, and dreams,
to make my brother Clarence and the King
develop a deadly hatred for each other:
and if King Edward is as true and just
as I am cunning, lying, and treacherous,
then today Clarence should be imprisoned
due to a prophecy, which says that ‘G’
will murder Edward's heirs–
I will bury my thoughts deep in my soul: here comes Clarence.

Good day, brother; why are you accompanied
by this armed guard?

His Majesty,
Tend'ring my person's safety, hath appointed
This conduct to convey me to th' Tower.

His Majesty,
out of concern for my safety, has appointed
this escort to take me to the Tower.

Upon what cause?

For what reason?

Because my name is George.

Because my name is George.

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-christ'ned in the Tower.
But what's the matter, Clarence? May I know?

Alas, my lord, that's no fault of yours:
he should imprison your godfathers for that.
Perhaps his Majesty has some plan
for you to be newly christened in the Tower.
But what's the problem, Clarence? May I know?

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
Hath mov'd his Highness to commit me now.

You shall know, Richard, when I do; for I tell you
that at the moment I don't; all I can discover is that
he has been listening to prophecies and dreams,
and out of the alphabet he has picked the letter G,
and says that a wizard told him that G
would disinherit his children;
and, as my name George begins with G,
he thinks that I must be that person.
It's this, and things like this, so I hear,
that has made his Highness imprison me now.
Why, this it is when men are rul'd 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,
Antony Woodville, 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.

Why, this is what happens when men are ruled by women:
it's not the king who's sending you to the Tower;
it's his wife, Lady Grey, Clarence, it's her
who has encouraged this absurdity.
Wasn't it her and that good holy man,
Antony Woodville, her brother,
that made him send Lord Hastings to the Tower,
from which he was released today?
We are not safe, Clarence; we are not safe.

By heaven, I think there is no man is 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 her delivery?

By heaven, I don't think anyone's safe
apart from the Queen's family and the nightly messengers
who go between the King and Mistress Shore.
Haven't you heard how humbly Lord Hastings
begged her for her forgiveness?

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'er-worn widow, and herself,
Since that our brother dubb'd them gentlewomen,
Are mighty gossips in our monarchy.

Humbly begging to her
got the Lord Chamberlain his freedom.
I tell you what, I think the best way for us
to keep the goodwill of the King
is to put ourselves at her service:
the jealous queen and her,
since our brother made them gentlewomen,
are great influences on the King.

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.

I must ask your Graces to both excuse me:
his Majesty has given strict orders
that nobody is to speak privately with
your brother under any circumstances.

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 gentlefolks.
How say you, sir? Can you deny all this?

Very well; if you want to, Brakenbury,
you can listen to anything we say:
we are not discussing treason, man; we say the King
is wise and virtuous, and his noble Queen
nicely mature, fair and not jealous; 
we say that Shore's wife is graceful,
with red lips, merry eyes, and she speaks well;
and that the Queen's relatives are made into gentlefolk.
What do you say to that, sir? Can you deny all this?

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

This is nothing to do with me, my lord.

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

Nothing to do with Mistress Shore! I tell you, fellow,
that anyone doing ‘nothing’ with her, apart from one,
would be well advised to do it in secret.

What one, my lord?

Who is the one, my lord?

Her husband, knave! Wouldst thou betray me?

Her husband, scoundrel! Do you want to get me into trouble?

I do beseech your Grace to pardon me, and
Forbear your conference with the noble Duke.

I beg your Grace to excuse me, and also
to stop talking with the noble duke.

We know thy charge, Brakenbury, and will

We know your orders, 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.

Everybody must submit to the Queen.
Brother, farewell; I will go to the king;
and whatever service you want from me–
if you asked me to call King Edward's widow my sister–
I will do it to win your freedom.
In the meanwhile, this insult to our family
affects me more than you can imagine.

I know it pleaseth neither of us well.

I know neither of us are happy about it.

Well, your imprisonment shall not be long;
I will deliver or else lie for you.
Meantime, have patience.

Well, you won't be locked up for long;
I will free you or I'll take your place.
In the meantime, be patient.

I must perforce. Farewell.
Exeunt CLARENCE, BRAKENBURY, and guard

I have no choice. Farewell.

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?

Go and walk the path from which you will never return.
Plain, simple Clarence, I love you so
that I will shortly send your soul to heaven,
if heaven will take the gift from me.
But who is this? The newly freed Hastings?


Good time of day unto my gracious lord!

A very good day to my gracious lord!

As much unto my good Lord Chamberlain!
Well are you welcome to the open air. 
How hath your lordship brook'd imprisonment?

And the same to my good Lord Chamberlain!
I'm pleased to welcome you to freedom.
How did your lordship cope with 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.

Patiently, noble lord, as prisoners have to;
but I shall make sure I repay those, my lord,
who caused my imprisonment.

No doubt, no doubt; and so shall Clarence too;
For they that were your enemies are his,
And have prevail'd as much on him as you.

No doubt, no doubt; and Clarence will as well;
for those who were your enemies are his,
and have treated him just as badly as you.

More pity that the eagles should be mew'd
Whiles kites and buzzards prey at liberty.

It's a great shame that eagles get locked up
while kites and buzzards are free to prey.

What news abroad?

What news is there abroad?

No news so bad abroad as this at home:
The King is sickly, weak, and melancholy,
And his physicians fear him mightily.

There's no news as bad as the news at home:
the King is sickly, weak and depressed,
and his doctors are very worried for him.

Now, by Saint John, that news is bad indeed.
O, he hath kept an evil diet long
And overmuch consum'd his royal person!
'Tis very grievous to be thought upon.
Where is he? In his bed?

Now, by St John, that news is certainly bad.
His lifestyle has been poor for too long,
he's worn out his royal body with excess!
It's very sad to think of.
Where is he? In his bed?

He is.

He is.

Go you before, and I will follow you. 
He cannot live, I hope, and must not die
Till George be pack'd with posthorse up to heaven.
I'll in to urge his hatred more to Clarence
With lies well steel'd 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 kill'd 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. 

You go on ahead, and I will follow you.

I hope he will not live, but he must not die
before George has been hastened up to heaven.
I'll encourage Clarence's hatred of him
with lies backed up with stern arguments;
and, if my cunning plans succeed,
Clarence does not have another day to live;
once that's done, may God take King Edward also
and leave the world free for me.
Then I will marry Warwick's youngest daughter–
who cares if I killed her husband and her father?
The best way to make it up to the girl
would be to become her husband, and her father:
which I will, not so much for love
as for another secret plan,
which I need to marry her to fulfil.
But I'm getting ahead of myself:
 Clarence is still alive, so is Edward and he is still king;
I must count my gains when they are gone.



London. Another street

Enter corpse of KING HENRY THE SIXTH, with halberds to guard it;
LADY ANNE being the mourner, attended by TRESSEL and BERKELEY

Set down, set down your honourable load-
If honour may be shrouded in a hearse;
Whilst I awhile obsequiously lament
Th' untimely fall of virtuous Lancaster.
Poor key-cold figure of a holy king!
Pale ashes of the house of Lancaster!
Thou bloodless remnant of that royal blood!
Be it lawful that I invocate thy ghost
To hear the lamentations of poor Anne,
Wife to thy Edward, to thy slaughtered son,
Stabb'd by the self-same hand that made these wounds.
Lo, in these windows that let forth thy life
I pour the helpless balm of my poor eyes.
O, cursed be the hand that made these holes!
Cursed the heart that had the heart to do it! 
Cursed the blood that let this blood from hence!
More direful hap betide that hated wretch
That makes us wretched by the death of thee
Than I can wish to adders, spiders, toads,
Or any creeping venom'd thing that lives!
If ever he have child, abortive be it,
Prodigious, and untimely brought to light,
Whose ugly and unnatural aspect
May fright the hopeful mother at the view,
And that be heir to his unhappiness!
If ever he have wife, let her be made
More miserable by the death of him
Than I am made by my young lord and thee!
Come, now towards Chertsey with your holy load,
Taken from Paul's to be interred there;
And still as you are weary of this weight
Rest you, whiles I lament King Henry's corse.
[The bearers take up the coffin]

Put down your honourable burden
(if one can be found on a hearse) 
while I set the example of mourning
for the untimely death of virtuous Lancaster.
Poor stone dead image of a holy King,
the pale ashes of the house of Lancaster,
you bloodless remains of that royal line:
May it be lawful for me to plead with your ghost
to hear the sorrowing of poor Anne,
the wife of your Edward, your slaughtered son,
stabbed by the same hand that wounded you.
Into these wounds that killed you
I pour my useless tears.
Curses on the hand that made these wounds;
cursed be the heart that could bring itself to do it;
May the blood of the bloodletter be cursed.
I wish for worse to happen to that horrible wretch,
who has made us wretched with your death,
than I wish to adders, spiders, toads,
or any creeping poisonous thing alive.
If he ever has a child, may it be an abortion:
monstrous, born too early,
with an ugly unnatural look
which terrifies the mother to see it,
and may it inherit his unhappiness.
If he ever marries, let his death
make her more miserable than
I am made by that of my young lord, and you.
Come, bring your holy burden to Chertsey,
taken from St Paul's to be buried there;
and whenever you get tired of the weight
you can rest, while I lament for King Henry's body.


Stay, you that bear the corse, and set it down.

Wait, you carrying that corpse, put it down.

What black magician conjures up this fiend
To stop devoted charitable deeds?

What black magician has summoned up this devil
to stop kind and devoted deeds?

Villains, set down the corse; or, by Saint Paul,
I'll make a corse of him that disobeys!

Villains, put down the corpse; or, I swear by St Paul,
I'll make a corpse of the one who disobeys!

My lord, stand back, and let the coffin

My Lord, stand back and let the coffin pass.

Unmannerd dog! Stand thou, when I command.
Advance thy halberd higher than my breast,
Or, by Saint Paul, I'll strike thee to my foot
And spurn upon thee, beggar, for thy boldness.

Rude dog! You stop when I order.
Stop pointing your spear at me,
or, by St Paul, I'll knock you to the ground
and grind you with my heel, beggar, for your impudence.

[The bearers set down the coffin]

What, do you tremble? Are you all afraid?
Alas, I blame you not, for you are mortal,
And mortal eyes cannot endure the devil.
Avaunt, thou dreadful minister of hell!
Thou hadst but power over his mortal body,
His soul thou canst not have; therefore, be gone.

What, are you trembling? Are you all afraid?
Alas, I do not blame you, for you are mortal,
and the eyes of mortals cannot bear the sight of the devil.
Away with you, you foul Minister of hell!
You only have power over his mortal body,
you cannot have his soul; so, go.

Sweet saint, for charity, be not so curst. 

Sweet saint, be kind, don't be so harsh.

Foul devil, for God's sake, hence and trouble us not;
For thou hast made the happy earth thy hell
Fill'd it with cursing cries and deep exclaims.
If thou delight to view thy heinous deeds,
Behold this pattern of thy butcheries.
O, gentlemen, see, see! Dead Henry's wounds
Open their congeal'd mouths and bleed afresh.
Blush, blush, thou lump of foul deformity,
For 'tis thy presence that exhales this blood
From cold and empty veins where no blood dwells;
Thy deeds inhuman and unnatural
Provokes this deluge most unnatural.
O God, which this blood mad'st, revenge his death!
O earth, which this blood drink'st, revenge his death!
Either, heav'n, with lightning strike the murd'rer dead;
Or, earth, gape open wide and eat him quick,
As thou dost swallow up this good king's blood,
Which his hell-govern'd arm hath butchered.

Foul devil, for God's sake, go away and don't bother us;
you have turned the happy earth into hell,
filling it with screams and curses.
If you enjoy seeing your horrible deeds,
look at this example of your butchery.
Oh gentlemen, look, look! The wounds of dead Henry
have reopened and are bleeding again.
Blush, blush, you foul twisted lump,
it’s your presence that makes this blood run
from cold and empty veins where there is no blood;
your inhuman and unnatural deeds
have caused this unnatural flood.
O God, who made this blood, revenge his death!
O Earth, which drinks this blood, revenge his death!
Let either heaven strike the murderer dead with lightning,
or let the Earth open wide and consume him as quickly
as you have swallowed up the blood of this good king,
whom his devilish hand butchered.

Lady, you know no rules of charity,
Which renders good for bad, blessings for curses. 

Lady, you are not being kind,
you should give back good for bad, blessings for curses.

Villain, thou knowest nor law of God nor man:
No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity.

Villain, you don't obey the laws of God or man:
there is no animal so fierce that he doesn't feel some pity.

But I know none, and therefore am no beast.

But I feel no pity, and so I am not an animal.

O wonderful, when devils tell the truth!

Amazing, when devils tell the truth!

More wonderful when angels are so angry.
Vouchsafe, divine perfection of a woman,
Of these supposed crimes to give me leave
By circumstance but to acquit myself.

More amazing when angels are so angry.
Explain, you heavenly perfect woman,
what crimes I'm supposed to have committed,
so that I can give you proof of my innocence.

Vouchsafe, diffus'd infection of a man,
Of these known evils but to give me leave
By circumstance to accuse thy cursed self.

I will explain, you disease of a man,
the well-known facts of the matter just to
give myself permission to accuse you.

Fairer than tongue can name thee, let me have
Some patient leisure to excuse myself.

Lady more beautiful than words can say,
give me a chance to excuse myself.

Fouler than heart can think thee, thou canst make
No excuse current but to hang thyself.

Man uglier than the heart could imagine,
the only way you could excuse yourself this is by hanging yourself.

By such despair I should accuse myself.

If I did such a thing I would be accusing myself.

And by despairing shalt thou stand excused
For doing worthy vengeance on thyself
That didst unworthy slaughter upon others.

And by doing it you would be acquitted
for taking proper revenge on yourself
who unjustly slaughtered others.

Say that I slew them not? 

What if it wasn't me who killed them?

Then say they were not slain.
But dead they are, and, devilish slave, by thee.

Then they wouldn't be dead.
But they are dead, and, devil's slave, you killed them.

I did not kill your husband.

I didn't kill your husband.

Why, then he is alive.

Well then, he must still be alive.

Nay, he is dead, and slain by Edward's hands.

No, he is dead, and killed by Edward.

In thy foul throat thou liest: Queen Margaret saw
Thy murd'rous falchion smoking in his blood;
The which thou once didst bend against her breast,
But that thy brothers beat aside the point.

You're lying through your foul throat: Queen Margaret saw
your murderous sword covered with his warm blood;
the same sword that you tried to stab her with,
but your brothers pushed the point away.

I was provoked by her sland'rous tongue
That laid their guilt upon my guiltless shoulders.

I was provoked by the lies she told,
which placed guilt upon my guiltless shoulders.

Thou wast provoked by thy bloody mind,
That never dream'st on aught but butcheries.
Didst thou not kill this king?

You were provoked by your vicious mind,
that never thinks of anything but murder. 
Did you not kill this king?

I grant ye.

I grant you that.

Dost grant me, hedgehog? Then, God grant me to
Thou mayst be damned for that wicked deed!
O, he was gentle, mild, and virtuous!

You grant me that, hedgehog? Then, may God grant me
that you will be dammed for that wicked deed!
Oh, he was gentle, mild and good!

The better for the King of Heaven, that hath

Then he'll be well suited to the King of Heaven,
who has him now.

He is in heaven, where thou shalt never come.

He is in heaven, where you will never go.

Let him thank me that holp to send him
For he was fitter for that place than earth.

He should thank me for helping to send him there,
he was more suited to that place than to Earth.

And thou unfit for any place but hell.

And you are unsuited for any place apart from hell.

Yes, one place else, if you will hear me name it.

There is one place, if you will let me name it.

Some dungeon.

Some dungeon.

Your bed-chamber.

Your bedroom.

Ill rest betide the chamber where thou liest!

May there be no rest in any room where you sleep!

So will it, madam, till I lie with you.

That's how it will be, madam,until I sleep with you.

I hope so.

That's what I hope.

I know so. But, gentle Lady Anne,
To leave this keen encounter of our wits,
And fall something into a slower method-
Is not the causer of the timeless deaths
Of these Plantagenets, Henry and Edward,
As blameful as the executioner?

I know this is how it will be. But, gentle Lady Anne,
let us leave off this sharp banter,
and talk more reasonably–
hasn't the person who caused these untimely deaths
of these Plantagenets, Henry and Edward,
as much to blame as the executioner?

Thou wast the cause and most accurs'd effect.

You were the cause and the cursed effect.

Your beauty was the cause of that effect-
Your beauty that did haunt me in my sleep 
To undertake the death of all the world
So I might live one hour in your sweet bosom.

It was your beauty that caused the effect–
your beauty that haunted me in my sleep
making me want to kill the whole world
if it meant I could spend one hour with you.

If I thought that, I tell thee, homicide,
These nails should rend that beauty from my cheeks.

If I thought that was true, I tell you, murderer,
that I would tear my looks to bits with my nails.

These eyes could not endure that beauty's wreck;
You should not blemish it if I stood by.
As all the world is cheered by the sun,
So I by that; it is my day, my life.

My eyes could not tolerate the wreck of your beauty;
if I was there you would not be allowed to damage it.
It cheers up my whole day, my whole life
in the same way the world is cheered by the sun.

Black night o'ershade thy day, and death thy life!

May black night overshadow your day, and death your life!

Curse not thyself, fair creature; thou art both.

Do not curse yourself, beautiful creature; you are my day and my life.

I would I were, to be reveng'd on thee.

I wish I was, so I could get revenge on you.

It is a quarrel most unnatural,
To be reveng'd on him that loveth thee.

It's most unnatural to want to
take revenge on someone who loves you.

It is a quarrel just and reasonable,
To be reveng'd on him that kill'd my husband.

It's entirely just and reasonable to want
to have revenge on the person who killed my husband.

He that bereft thee, lady, of thy husband
Did it to help thee to a better husband.

Lady, the one who took your husband away,
did it so you could find a better husband.

His better doth not breathe upon the earth.

There isn't a better one alive.

He lives that loves thee better than he could. 

There is someone alive who loves you better than he could.

Name him.

Name him.



Why, that was he.

Why, that was his name.

The self-same name, but one of better nature.

The exact same name, but better made.

Where is he?

Where is he?

Here.[She spits at him]Why dost thou spit
at me?

Here. Why are you spitting on me?

Would it were mortal poison, for thy sake!

I wish it was fatal poison, to get you!

Never came poison from so sweet a place.

No poison ever came from such a sweet place.

Never hung poison on a fouler toad.
Out of my sight! Thou dost infect mine eyes.

And poison never hit a more horrible toad.
Get out of my sight! Thesight of you infects my eyes.

Thine eyes, sweet lady, have infected mine.

Your eyes, sweet lady, have infected mine.

Would they were basilisks to strike thee dead!

I wish I had eyes like a basilisk, to strike you dead!

I would they were, that I might die at once;
For now they kill me with a living death.
Those eyes of thine from mine have drawn salt tears,
Sham'd their aspects with store of childish drops-
These eyes, which never shed remorseful tear,
No, when my father York and Edward wept
To hear the piteous moan that Rutland made 
When black-fac'd Clifford shook his sword at him;
Nor when thy warlike father, like a child,
Told the sad story of my father's death,
And twenty times made pause to sob and weep
That all the standers-by had wet their cheeks
Like trees bedash'd with rain-in that sad time
My manly eyes did scorn an humble tear;
And what these sorrows could not thence exhale
Thy beauty hath, and made them blind with weeping.
I never sued to friend nor enemy;
My tongue could never learn sweet smoothing word;
But, now thy beauty is propos'd my fee,
My proud heart sues, and prompts my tongue to speak.
 [She looks scornfully at him]
Teach not thy lip such scorn; for it was made
For kissing, lady, not for such contempt.
If thy revengeful heart cannot forgive,
Lo here I lend thee this sharp-pointed sword;
Which if thou please to hide in this true breast
And let the soul forth that adoreth thee, 
I lay it naked to the deadly stroke,
And humbly beg the death upon my knee.
[He lays his breast open; she offers at it with his sword]
Nay, do not pause; for I did kill King Henry-
But 'twas thy beauty that provoked me.
Nay, now dispatch; 'twas I that stabb'd young Edward-
But 'twas thy heavenly face that set me on.
 [She falls the sword]
Take up the sword again, or take up me.

I wish they were, so I could die at once;
for seeing them now is a living death.
Those eyes of yours have drawn salt tears from mine,
shamed them with these childish drops;
these eyes, which never shed a tear of remorse,
not when my father York and Edward wept
to hear the terrible moans of Rutland
when black faced Clifford attacked him with his sword;
nor when your warlike father told me the
sad story of my father's death, and like a child,
twenty times had to pause and weep,
so that the cheeks of all the bystanders were soaked
like trees covered with rain. At that sad time
my manly eyes refused to shed low tears;
and your beauty has drawn out these things
which those sorrows could not, and you have made me blind with weeping.
I never begged either friend or enemy:
my tongue has never learnt how to speak smooth sweet words;
but now I am trying to gain your beauty,
my proud heart begs, and makes my tongue speak.
[She looks scornfully at him]
Don't curl your lip like that, for it was made
for kissing, lady, not to show such contempt.
If your vengeful heart can't forgive me,
here, I will lend you this sharp pointed sword,
and if you want to you can bury it into my
true heart, and release the soul of he who adores you,
I expose it here to the deadly blow,
and humbly beg for death on my knees. 
[He exposes his chest and she points the sword at it]
No, do not pause, for I did kill King Henry–
but it was your beauty that inspired me.
No, do it: it was I who stabbed young Edward–
but it was your heavenly face that made me do it.
[She drops the sword]
Either pick up the sword or accept me.

Arise, dissembler; though I wish thy death,
I will not be thy executioner.

Get up, deceiver; although I want you dead,
I will not be your executioner.

Then bid me kill myself, and I will do it.

Then tell me to kill myself, and I will do it.

I have already.

I have told you already.

That was in thy rage.
Speak it again, and even with the word
This hand, which for thy love did kill thy love,
Shall for thy love kill a far truer love;
To both their deaths shalt thou be accessary.

That was when you were angry.
Tell me again, and as soon as you say it
this hand, which killed your love to get your love,
will, for love of you, kill a much truer love;
you will be accessory to both their deaths.

I would I knew thy heart.

I wish I knew what's in your heart.

'Tis figur'd in my tongue. 

You've heard what I have said.

I fear me both are false.

I fear both your heart and your tongue are false.

Then never was man true.

Then no man was ever true.

Well, put up your sword.

Well, put away your sword.

Say, then, my peace is made.

Then tell me that we are friends.

That shalt thou know hereafter.

You will know that afterwards.

But shall I live in hope?

But can I have hopes?

All men, I hope, live so.

I hope that all men have hope.

Vouchsafe to wear this ring.

Agree to wear this ring.

To take is not to give. [Puts on the ring]

Taking is not giving.

Look how my ring encompasseth thy finger,
Even so thy breast encloseth my poor heart;
Wear both of them, for both of them are thine.
And if thy poor devoted servant may
But beg one favour at thy gracious hand,
Thou dost confirm his happiness for ever.

Look how my ringembraces your finger,
even as your breast embraces my poor heart;
wear both of them, as both of them are yours.
And if your poor devoted servant may
ask for just one favour from you,
you will make him happy forever.

What is it?

What is it?

That it may please you leave these sad designs
To him that hath most cause to be a mourner,
And presently repair to Crosby House;
Where-after I have solemnly interr'd 
At Chertsey monast'ry this noble king,
And wet his grave with my repentant tears-
I will with all expedient duty see you.
For divers unknown reasons, I beseech you,
Grant me this boon.

That you agree to leave these sad matters
to the one who has the most reason to be a mourner,
and go at once to Crosby House;
and after I have solemnly buried
this noble king at Chertsey monastery,
and wet his grave with my tears of repentance,
I will come to see you as soon as I can.
For many secret reasons, I beg you,
do me this favour.

With all my heart; and much it joys me too
To see you are become so penitent.
Tressel and Berkeley, go along with me.

With all my heart; and it pleases me very much
to see that you are being so repentant.
Tressel and Berkeley, come along with me.

Bid me farewell.

Give me your good wishes.

'Tis more than you deserve;
But since you teach me how to flatter you,
Imagine I have said farewell already.

It's more than you deserve;
but since you are teaching me how to flatter you,
imagine I have said farewell already.


Sirs, take up the corse.

Sirs, pick up the body.

Towards Chertsey, noble lord?

And carry on to Chertsey, noble lord?

No, to White Friars; there attend my coming.
Exeunt all but RICHARD
Was ever woman in this humour woo'd?
Was ever woman in this humour won?
I'll have her; but I will not keep her long. 
What! I that kill'd her husband and his father-
To take her in her heart's extremest hate,
With curses in her mouth, tears in her eyes,
The bleeding witness of my hatred by;
Having God, her conscience, and these bars against me,
And I no friends to back my suit at all
But the plain devil and dissembling looks,
And yet to win her, all the world to nothing!
Hath she forgot already that brave prince,
Edward, her lord, whom I, some three months since,
Stabb'd in my angry mood at Tewksbury?
A sweeter and a lovelier gentleman-
Fram'd in the prodigality of nature,
Young, valiant, wise, and no doubt right royal-
The spacious world cannot again afford;
And will she yet abase her eyes on me,
That cropp'd the golden prime of this sweet prince
And made her widow to a woeful bed?
On me, whose all not equals Edward's moiety? 
On me, that halts and am misshapen thus?
My dukedom to a beggarly denier,
I do mistake my person all this while.
Upon my life, she finds, although I cannot,
Myself to be a marv'llous proper man.
I'll be at charges for a looking-glass,
And entertain a score or two of tailors
To study fashions to adorn my body.
Since I am crept in favour with myself,
I will maintain it with some little cost.
But first I'll turn yon fellow in his grave,
And then return lamenting to my love.
Shine out, fair sun, till I have bought a glass,
That I may see my shadow as I pass. 

No, to Whitefriars; wait for me there.

Was a woman with these feelings ever wooed?
Was a woman with these feelings ever won?
I'll have her, but I won't keep her long.
What! I killed her husband and his father:
to win her when her hate for me is at its highest,
with curses in her mouth, tears in her eyes,
the bloody cause of her hatred close by,
with God, her conscience and these barriers
against me–
and I, with no friends to press my case
except for the devil and false looks–
and yet I can win her, and beat the world!
Has she already forgotten that brave Prince,
Edward, her Lord, whom I, some three months ago,
stabbed at Tewkesbury in my rage?
The world will never again see
as sweet or lovely a gentleman,
a great work of nature,
Young, brave, wise, and certainly royal.
And yet she will lower her eyes to me,
who made her a widow in a bed of sorrow?
She looks at me, whom the whole of cannot equal half of Edward?
On me, who limps and has this twisted body?
I bet my dukedom against a farthing,
I have been mistaken about my looks this whole time!
I swear on my life, she thinks–although I do not–
that I am a fine figure of a man.
I shall buy a looking glass,
and have a score or two of tailors
invent fashionable clothes for my body:
since I have now decided to like myself,
I shall keep my looks up with some expense.
But first I'll put this fellow in his grave,
and then return, sorrowful, to my love.
Fair sun, shine out until I have bought a mirror,
so I can see my shadow as I go along.
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