Richard III | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Richard III | Act 4, Scene 5 | Summary

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Summary

Lord Stanley has returned to his house and is conferring with a priest named Sir Christopher (who appears only in this scene). Stanley explains his predicament to Sir Christopher: if he openly defies Richard, his son will die. Sir Christopher agrees to bear this message to Richmond and informs Stanley that "many ... of great name and worth" have joined Richmond's army, which is now headed for London. Stanley gives Sir Christopher a letter for Richmond, and the two men part ways.

Analysis

This scene builds momentum for the Battle of Bosworth Field, the clash of armies which will dominate Act 5. Lord Stanley's situation is pitiable, but his son George is introduced too late for his fate to be a major plot concern. More important than this hostage crisis, though certainly less exciting, is Sir Christopher's catalogue of knights and earls, the "men of name" who have rallied to Richmond's cause. By naming so many capable commanders—and by calling them out as "renownèd," "redoubted," and "valiant"—Sir Christopher continues a pattern established in Act 4, Scene 4: as the rebel army keeps growing, Richard's victory seems less and less certain.

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