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E316 Fall 2010 Students' Blog

Mick Duggan on Richard III, Act 5

Published by admin_main on Wed 29 Sep, 2010

19. Throughout Act 5, contrast the language and actions of Richard and Richmond: what state of mind does each appear to be in on the eve of their fateful meeting?

The language and actions of Richard and Richmond show them to truly be polar opposites. The two leaders are extremely different men.

Richard shows himself to be self-serving and overly superior. He throws out orders constantly and is comfortable with his ill-gotten power. He cares too much for his own comfort and his possessions and too little for his men.

Act 5 scene 3 line 7 "Up with my tent! Here will I lie tonight."

Act 5 scene 5 line 4 "What, is my beaver easier than it was? And all my armour laid into my tent?"

Richmond is far more cordial with the men serving under him. He speaks to them as though they were close family. In doing this, he garners respect and his men seem glad to fight for him.

Act 5 scene 2 line 1 "Fellows in arms, and my most loving friends..."

Act 5 scene 4 line 5 "The Earl of Pembroke keeps his regiment; Good Captain Blunt, bear my good night to him..."

Richard shows himself to be nervous and extremely uneasy. The nobles Richard surrounds himself with seem to be relatively despondent and unsure of the outcome of the impending battle. He seems to need constant reassurance, both in regard to his army's loyalties and their abilities. He really projects his doubt about the entire situation.

Act 5 scene 3 line 1 "Why, how now, Catesby? Why look you so sad?" (reassurance)

Act 5 scene 5 line167 "What thinkest thou, will all our friends prove true?" (doubt)

Richmond seems at ease and comfortable while waiting to wage battle. He is confident that he and his men will be victorious. He makes certain each of his nobles is apprized on the width and breadth of what will happen at dawn. He is a man in charge without insisting he is in charge. He gives the victory to his men, and this is a moral boost.

Act 5 scene 2 line 14 "In God's name, cheerly on, courageous friends, to reap the harvest of perpetual peace..."

Act 5 scene 5 line 222 "The least of you shall share his part thereof. … Richmond and victory!"

The night before the battle, Richard does not eat and drinks himself to sleep. He is cursed by the apparitions of the people he has murdered. His sleep is restless. There is a realization of self loathing due to all the evil he has done.

Act 5 scene 5 line 25 "... Give me wine. I have not the alacrity of spirit, nor cheer of mind, that I was wont to have."

Act 5 scene 5 line 143 "... I rather hate myself for hateful deeds committed by myself. I am a villain." line154 "There is no creature loves me, and if I die no soul will pity me."

Richmond prepares for the coming conflict and then prays before his rest. He gives glory to God and asks for his assistance in defeating Richard's army. The spirits murdered by Richard bless Richmond's efforts. He has wonderful sleep and awakes confident in England's bright future.

Act 5 scene 5 line 63 and line 66 "Put in their (Richmond's army) hands thy bruising iron of wrath... Make us thy ministers of chastisement..." (prayer)

Act 5 scene 5 line 206 "One that hath ever been God's enemy. Then if you fight against God's enemy, God will, in justice, ward you as his soldier."(Referring to Richard's forces)

How do they justify the upcoming battle to their followers?

Richard justifies the battle against Richmond as a class struggle. He refers to the opposing forces as "vagabonds, rascals and runaways" and as "base lackey peasants". This is, of course, false seeing the Richmond and his allies are noblemen.

Richard's self-serving nature is shown in his disdain for the impoverished.

Richmond's justification is that Richard is an illegitimate tyrant and is evil. In removing Richard from the throne, he would be doing the work of God and protecting England from an internal enemy. This idea seems to be a little more on the mark, a little less selfish and also makes him a stronger leader.

20. Act 5, Scenes 3-5, how does Richard conduct himself during the Battle of Bosworth, up to and including his death? In what sense is his comportment at the end characteristic of his life?

He is lost. His need to conquer takes over any morality or sense he may have and leaves him greedily grasping for power. His horse, which is a great advantage on the battlefield, is dead like everyone who ever made an effort to help him. His response to opposition is to destroy it and he is so consumed by killing Richmond, he seems to see every foe in the future king's garb. The killing will never be enough, the opposition to Richard's corruption surpasses life as seen by the ghosts cursing him.

Richard is in a power hungry war against the world. He dies left behind by his men, betrayed like he betrayed so many. He was a scornful, hate filled man who was only out for himself and died alone because of it.

What future does Richmond (soon to become Henry VII) lay out as the play concludes?

Richmond wishes to unite the white rose (Yorkist), the red rose (Lancastrian), and end the Wars of the Roses, ending the blood shed of repeated civil war. It is his wish to marry Princess Elizabeth, who is a Yorkist, in order to unite these factions. He wishes for a lasting peace and great prosperity in England and asks for God to bless this endeavor. In these wishes, he drives home the point the he is a greater ruler than the now dead Richard, whose only interest lay in self-aggrandizement.

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