Richard III | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Course Hero. "Richard III Study Guide." August 3, 2017. Accessed November 12, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Richard-III/.

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Richard III | Act 3, Scene 3 | Summary

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Summary

At Pomfret Castle in Yorkshire, Earl Rivers, Lord Grey, and Sir Thomas Vaughan are being led to their deaths by Sir Richard Ratcliffe, a follower of Richard. They curse their captors and their fortune, reflecting on the fateful words of Queen Margaret back in Act 1, Scene 3. Rivers hopes that, since he and his associates are already doomed, Margaret's curses on Richard and his faction will come true as well. As Ratcliffe and the guards lead them offstage, the three condemned men embrace, bidding each other "farewell until we meet again in heaven."

Analysis

At first, this scene may seem like an interruption in the larger plot of Richard III: Rivers, Grey, and Vaughan are all minor characters, and their last moments could easily have been reported (by one of those ubiquitous messengers) rather than dramatized. In a sense, the scene says more about Richard—and the dangers of his rule—than it does about the three condemned men: their tearful farewell evokes pity and fear, reinforcing the general sense no one is safe while Richard holds the reins of power. So far as the audience knows, these men have done nothing wrong; they have simply been born into the wrong family, or, in Vaughan's case, allied themselves with the losing team. Their deaths are motivated not by Richard's sense of justice (which is dormant, if not dead, at this point in the play), but by political convenience tinged with revenge.

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