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(1)1213 Level N English Richard III Teachers Introduction and Act 1

Ineverycasetheyrememberhercursebeforetheydie duchess

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Unformatted text preview: oung princes and their older sister, young Elizabeth. Before she married the king she had two sons (now adults) by a previous marriage (Dorset and Grey). This gives rise to suspicions of divided loyalty which Richard is able to use to his advantage. She gives as good as she gets in a long dialogue with Richard in which he tries to persuade her to agree to his marrying young Elizabeth (his niece). Margaret: widow of the murdered King Henry VI of Lancaster. Her function in this play is to curse almost everyone in it. She is a familiar figure to the audience because she has been a major character in the plays about Henry VI, but here she comes into a scene at court and turns on everybody there. She is important because her curses come back to haunt each of the characters in turn, all of whom end up dead. In every case they remember her curse before they die. Duchess of York: mother of Richard, Clarence and King Edward IV. She is Queen Elizabeth’s mother‐in‐ law and grandmother to the two young princes. She is fiercely protective of these people, knowing, as only a mother can, Richard’s evil nature, which she fears and dislikes. Finally, accusing him of murdering her own grandchildren, she curses him. Hastings: a loyal Yorkist retainer, and friend to Richard. He is an enemy of the Queen’s brother (Rivers) and her other sons (Grey and Dorset) and is grateful to Richard when they are taken into custody and executed. However, his refusal to agree to Richard’s plan to disinherit Edward V and become king himself leads to his own arrest as a ‘traitor’ on trumped‐up charges, as Richard moves swiftly to destroy anyone opposed to his ambitions. He is one of the characters cursed by Margaret. MINOR CHARACTERS King Edward IV: The eldest of the three brothers (Edward, Clarence and Richard). In the play he is aging and ill, although there are many references to his having been a womanizer when he was younger. He is determined, on his deathbed, to create a peaceful reconciliation between the opposing political groups. He is seen as a rather naïve, unsuspecting old man, who knows he will die soon and wants to make peace with those around him – his past sins weigh on his conscience. The young Princes: they are the young sons of King Edward, aged 12 and 9, and named Prince Edward and the Duke of York respectively. They are Richard’s nephews and they are the next two heirs to the throne once Edward IV dies; thus they are a threat to Richard’s plan to take power. Richard places them in the Tower of London ‘for their own safety’ and hires a killer to murder them there. They are shown as two naïve boys playing with the idea of being a king and a duke. Edward’s attempts to sound adult are typical of a slightly precocious boy brought up with high expectations. His talk of Julius Caesar building the Tower of London and of retaking France when he is a man is deeply ironic because the audience already knows his fate (not unlike Caesar’s). His unquestioning willingness to go to the Tower before his coronation – despite his younger brother’s saying he is afraid of meeting Uncle Clarence’s ghost there – reveals that he is trusting and unaware of his living uncle’s plans. Dorset, Rivers, Grey: Dorset and Grey are sons of Q...
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