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Richard III

Richard III


by William Shakespeare

Richard III Fate and Free Will Quotes

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

Quote #4

But then I sigh; and, with a piece of scripture,
Tell them that God bids us do good for evil:
And thus I clothe my naked villany
With old odd ends stolen out of holy writ;
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil. (1.3.28)

Richard has this whole Machiavellian leader thing down.  He basically role-plays his way to the crown, pretending to be godly and moral even though he's acting like a "devil."  Richard takes pride in his skills as a master manipulator, suggesting that he's acting according to his own free will.

Quote #5

So, now prosperity begins to mellow
And drop into the rotten mouth of death.
Here in these confines slyly have I lurk'd,
To watch the waning of mine adversaries. (4.4.1)

Here Margaret foresees Richard's destruction of the House of York.  This is not news to the audience, which has the advantage of historical hindsight and knows exactly where the play is headed.  Still, this passage is interesting for a couple of reasons.  First, the play's (and Margaret's) foreknowledge suggests that events are unfolding according to providential design.  It's also interesting (and gross) that Margaret uses a fruit metaphor to suggest that Richard's prosperity has gone from being "ripe" to "rotten."  Translation:  Things are going downhill fast for Richard and the House of York. 

Quote #6

O upright, just, and true-disposing God,
How do I thank thee, that this carnal cur
Preys on the issue of his mother's body,
And makes her pew-fellow with others' moan! (4.4.6)

Queen Margaret believes God is using Richard to punish the Yorks for doing terrible things to the Lancasters.  But Margaret never acknowledges the fact that she and the rest of her family have done some pretty awful things themselves.  Check out the next passage (1.3.15) below.

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