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Richard III Gender Quotes

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

Quote #1

Why, this it is when men are rul'd by women:
'Tis not the king that sends you to the Tower;
My Lady Gray his wife, Clarence, 'tis she
That tempers him to this extremity. (1.1.4)

This is the first mention of women in the play, and it's significant since it sets up our expectations for how they will be treated. Gloucester suggests that the influence of Queen Elizabeth, King Edward IV's wife, is responsible for Clarence's imprisonment. A few things can be distilled here: Richard suggests that women have undue influence, and he may secretly resent their power. Further, he suggests that Elizabeth is villainous. So basically, women have power they shouldn't have, and we should expect them to use that power for evil.

Quote #2

He that doth naught with her, excepting one,
Were best to do it secretly alone.
What one, my lord?
Her husband, knave! Wouldst thou betray me? (1.1.7)

Richard shows off his bawdy sense of humor here – and his deftness with language. Brackenbury has said he has nothing ("nought") to do with Shore (Edward's mistress). Richard plays on this word, turning it into "naught," a reference to sexual wickedness. What's important here, though, is that Richard undercuts Shore's sexual power over Edward. He mocks her as one who gets around, and thus reduces her to an object, which distracts us from thinking about the power she has over him as his sexual partner.

Quote #3

For then I'll marry Warwick's youngest daughter.
What though I kill'd her husband and her father?
The readiest way to make the wench amends
Is to become her husband and her father;
The which will I-not all so much for love
As for another secret close intent
By marrying her which I must reach unto. (1.1.16)

Richard views Anne as a means to an end.  We again get a clue that Richard sees how women have power, but rather than be used by a woman, he has every intention to use her. Further, he's absolutely impenetrable when it comes to love, as he delights in killing Anne's father-in-law and husband and then marrying her.

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