Richard III Fate and Free Will Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Norton edition.
The curse my noble father laid on thee,
When thou didst crown his warlike brows with paper
And with thy scorns drew'st rivers from his eyes,
And then, to dry them, gavest the duke a clout
Steep'd in the faultless blood of pretty Rutland –
His curses, then from bitterness of soul
Denounced against thee, are all fall'n upon thee;
And God, not we, hath plagued thy bloody deed.
So just is God, to right the innocent. (1.3.15)
In the previous passage we saw that Margaret views Richard as an instrument of divine justice. She thinks God is using Richard to punish the Yorks for their crimes against the Lancasters. Here, however, Richard argues that God is punishing the Lancasters for the crimes they have committed against his family. (In Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part 3, Richard's dad cursed Margaret for her involvement in his son Rutland's murder. Margaret had taunted Richard's dad by putting a paper crown on his head and waving a bloody handkerchief ("clout") in his face. The handkerchief was dipped in his son Rutland's blood.)
In other words, the Lancasters and the Yorks have been going at it for a very long time, and if it's true that God is using Richard's reign as a form of punishment, then everybody is getting what they deserve.
Thy Edward he is dead, that stabb'd my Edward:
Thy other Edward dead, to quit my Edward;
Young York he is but boot, because both they
Match not the high perfection of my loss:
Thy Clarence he is dead that kill'd my Edward;
And the beholders of this tragic play,
The adulterate Hastings, Rivers, Vaughan, Grey,
Untimely smother'd in their dusky graves.
Margaret is telling the Duchess of York how everyone has been punished for their past crimes. She suggests that when people get murdered in the play, it's because they were basically asking for it.