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Richard III Betrayal Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Norton edition.

Quote #1

Simple, plain Clarence, I do love thee so
That I will shortly send thy soul to heaven,
If heaven will take the present at our hands. (1.1.11)

Richard utterly delights in the wickedness of his scheme to betray Clarence. Here he jokes that he's doing Clarence a favor by sending him to heaven.

Quote #2

Poor Clarence did forsake his father, Warwick,
Ay, and forswore himself-which Jesu pardon!-
[ . . .] To fight on Edward's party for the crown;
And for his meed, poor lord, he is mewed up.
I would to God my heart were flint like Edward's,
Or Edward's soft and pitiful like mine.
I am too childish-foolish for this world. (1.3.11)

Richard cleverly reminds his listeners that Clarence originally betrayed the family by going over to the Lancastrian side when he married Isabella Warwick (sister to Anne, whom Richard will later marry). Richard brings this point up slyly by saying Clarence betrayed his father-in-law, the Lancastrian supporter, to come back to York. If we were gullible, we might think Richard was implying how much Clarence sacrificed for the family, but he's really undermining Clarence by pointing out his frailty. Of course, the undercurrent of this entire commentary is that Richard has betrayed Clarence, who waits in the Tower even as Richard speaks. Richard feels none of the outrage about betrayal that he suggests others should feel.

Quote #3

Vouchsafe to wear this ring.
To take is not to give. [Puts on the ring] (1.2.55)

Up to this point, Anne has done an admirable job telling Richard to get lost. Her failing comes when Richard makes the argument that, although she wishes him dead, she can't kill him herself. Her acceptance of his ring is strange. She is willing to take it but unwilling to give her love. Through this act, Anne not only betrays her murdered husband and father-in-law, but also herself. The reasons must be deeper than just her unwillingness to kill. Why else would she submit so meekly?

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