Richard III | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Richard III | Act 5, Scene 2 | Summary

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Summary

Richmond and his army have made it as far inland as Staffordshire and are now encamped at Tamworth. He comes onstage, attended by his supporters the Earl of Oxford, Sir James Blunt, and Sir Walter Herbert. In a short but stirring monologue, Richmond reminds his troops of Richard's evil ways, likening him to a "wretched, bloody, and usurping boar" who now rampages through the English countryside, trampling the fields and swilling the blood of England's soldiers. Oxford, Herbert, and Blunt comfort Richmond with the thought Richard's supporters will prove false. As Blunt puts it, "[Richard] hath no friends but what are friends for fear / Which in his dearest need will fly from him." Cheered by this sentiment, Richmond orders his troops to march on.

Analysis

This is the first time Richmond appears in Richard III and only his second appearance in the tetralogy overall. When he left the stage in Henry VI, Part 3, Richmond was a mere boy, being whisked away to refuge in Brittany amid the chaos of civil war; now, he stands at the head of an army of his very own. By reintroducing a major character just a few scenes before the end of the play, Shakespeare has placed himself in the challenging position of making that character seem a natural part of the action. Monologues—big, martial speeches with majestic-sounding lines—are the playwright's main tool for inserting Richmond into the play and establishing him as a hero. The demonization of Richard—described here as a ravenous animal ("the wretched, bloody, and usurping boar")—adds a further heroic sheen to Richmond and his cause.

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