Jessica Cavanaugh on Richard III, Act 4

Published by admin_main on Tue 28 Sep, 2010

15. In Act 4, Scene 1, three of the play's women (Elizabeth, Anne, and the Duchess of York) gather to consider their plight. How does Anne, once betrothed to Edward IV's heir, explain her acceptance of Richard's offer of marriage? Does her explanation seem credible? Explain.

Essentially in Richard III, Lady Anne blames Richard for a great deal of the tragedy and remorse she has been forced to endure due to her husband's death and her father-in-law's death. In addition to this, Lady Anne finds herself extremely angry with Richard, so much so, that she begins to wish for a curse on Richard saying, "be thou, quoth I, accursed for making me, so young, so old a widow and, when thou wedd'st, let sorrow haunt thy bed and be thy wife, if any be so mad, more miserable by the life of thee than thou hast made me by my dear lord's death" (Pg. 422, Act 4, Scene 1, lines 71-76). Ironically, even after openly stating her disgust and wishing him the worst, Lady Anne ultimately marries Richard, describing Richard's "honey words" (Pg. 422, Act 4, Scene 1, line 79)as the deciding factor in her final decision.

The "honey words" Lady Anne refers to here, is the dialogue that takes place between Richard and Lady Anne in Act 1, Scene 2, where Richard says, in response to Lady Anne accusing him of killing her husband, "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" (Pg. 376, Act 1, Scene 2, lines 121-124). It is here that the audience is exposed to Richard's brilliance and his way with words, demonstrating his incredible ability to manipulate an individual.It is through this manipulation (this only being a snippet of the things that were said) Lady Anne gives Richard her hand in marriage, exposing her shallow and corruptible side.

Her explanation relative to marrying Richard III does not seem credible at all, considering that she accepted his offer over the body of her deceased husband. Additionally,I feel as though Lady Anne married Richard in hopes that she would remain safe and not immediately lose her life for ultimately rejecting him.Although Richard's intentions are to kill Lady Anne anyway, as we know this after he says, "I'll have her, but I'll not keep her long" (Pg. 378,Act 1, Scene 2, line 217), I think in her mind her "marriage" to him bought her time, which as the audience will see, does not work in her favor as Richard poisons her and soon thereafter, begins to plan his marriage to his niece.


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