Richard III Gender Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Norton edition.
Then be your eyes the witness of their evil.
Look how I am bewitch'd; behold, mine arm
Is like a blasted sapling wither'd up.
And this is Edward's wife, that monstrous witch,
Consorted with that harlot strumpet Shore,
That by their witchcraft thus have marked me.
If they have done this deed, my noble lord-
If?-thou protector of this damned strumpet,
Talk'st thou to me of ifs? Thou art a traitor.
Off with his head! (3.4.5)
Richard's claim against the women is ridiculous, since Richard's arm has been withered since birth. Perhaps because of Richard's powerful position, or because of the inferior position of the women, Hastings is immediately expected to side with Richard.
O ill-dispersing wind of misery!
O my accursed womb, the bed of death!
A cockatrice hast thou hatch'd to the world,
Whose unavoided eye is murderous.
Come, madam, come; I in all haste was sent.
And I with all unwillingness will go.
O, would to God that the inclusive verge
Of golden metal that must round my brow
Were red-hot steel, to sear me to the brains!
Anointed let me be with deadly venom,
And die ere men can say 'God save the queen!'
Go, go, poor soul; I envy not thy glory.
To feed my humour, wish thyself no harm. (4.1.3)
The women all commiserate with each other, though their woes are different in kind and degree. There is a sisterhood of sorts, as all the women seem to constantly fall victim to the actions of the men. However, as the duchess points out, the women are literally at the root of the grief, as their positions as mothers and wives tie them intimately to the perpetrators of wrong. Still, they seem to have no power to affect the men's actions, but only to condemn them after the fact.
Who intercepts me in my expedition?
O, she that might have intercepted thee,
By strangling thee in her accursed womb,
From all the slaughters, wretch, that thou hast done! (4.4.1)
The duchess asserts that her power as a woman might have been to cut Richard off before his birth. Remember, at the end of this speech she curses him to a bloody death. Her power was to give him life, and her curse might be partly responsible for his death.