Richard III Gender Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Norton edition.
You have a daughter call'd Elizabeth.
Virtuous and fair, royal and gracious.
And must she die for this? O, let her
And I'll corrupt her manners, stain her beauty,
Slander myself as false to Edward's bed,
Throw over her the veil of infamy;
So she may live unscarr'd of bleeding slaughter,
I will confess she was not Edward's daughter.
Wrong not her birth; she is a royal
To save her life I'll say she is not so. (4.4.12)
Elizabeth would rather slander her own honor than see her daughter suffer. Women in the play subjugate their own titles and reputations to protect their loved ones. This makes them distinct from the men, for whom power is of the utmost importance. Richard is keen on marrying Elizabeth precisely to protect his title as king of England (as marrying Elizabeth would secure his throne). Queen Elizabeth's intuition that she could protect her daughter by stripping her of her title is correct. Richard would not marry her for love, but rather for her politically strategic importance. Of course, the irony is that none of the women in the play have inherent power. Only their bloodlines and titles are beneficial to the men, who seek legitimacy and legitimate heirs.
I go. Write to me very shortly,
And you shall understand from me her mind.
Bear her my true love's kiss; and so, farewell.
Kissing her. Exit QUEEN ELIZABETH
Relenting fool, and shallow, changing woman! (4.4.51)
Richard's condemnation is harsh; he thinks Queen Elizabeth is foolish. Of course, the irony is that Queen Elizabeth will be having the last laugh, as she has no intention of carrying through with Richard's marriage to her daughter. Richard's arrogance leads him to believe that he's manipulated another woman, when in actuality her shrewd decisions regarding her own daughter (another woman Richard meant to manipulate) will be Richard's downfall.