Women play an intriguing role in Richard III. On the one hand, they can be considered powerless – they do little but talk about and react to the actions of the men. On the other hand, their words (specifically their curses) seem to have a prophetic power. The women fit into a variety of female character stereotypes, but they still manage to be nuanced. In one sense, women are the property of the men who marry them. But the women elevate themselves by sheer emotive force. The women provide much of the emotional force behind the political action of the play. Focusing on the men alone, the play would mostly be about shrewd political strategizing and power. Only when the women come into view do we really see the emotional reality and toll of this politically volatile situation.
Although the women in the play are helpless as they watch Richard's reign of terror, their prophetic curses suggest that they do wield some power in the play.
Whether she married Richard or Richmond, Young Elizabeth was to be used as a political pawn.