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Richard III Justice Quotes

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

Quote #1

Alack, my lord, that fault is none of yours (1.1.3)

Richard pretends to comfort his brother George of Clarence, who's been imprisoned because of the "G" prophecy. This gives us an insight into Richard's notions of justice. Richard suggests that one should not be held responsible or punished for circumstances beyond one's control. In this particular situation, Richard is correct that Clarence's name is just a coincidence; a trick of fate. Moreover, we can read this line from Richard as kind of an absolution for himself: if Richard believes it's unjust for a person to be punished for circumstances beyond his or her control, and he believes his own evil to be a predetermined and natural part of himself, then it makes sense that he would excuse himself, or not dwell on the moral consequences of his actions. If he's fated to be evil, then he doesn't deserve punishment for it.

Quote #2

How hath your lordship brook'd imprisonment?
With patience, noble lord, as prisoners must;
But I shall live, my lord, to give them thanks
That were the cause of my imprisonment. (1.1.12)

Hastings' notion of justice is predicated upon revenge – the "thanks" he'll give his jailers is a threat to return the favor to them.

Quote #3

But yet I run before my horse to market. (1.1.16)

Here Richard is saying that he shouldn't get ahead of himself, or put the cart before the horse. But this line is ironic when you consider that Richard will later die in battle because he can't find a horse. The whole play could be seen as him "getting ahead of himself," with his lack of planning catching up with him in the end. He's literally and figuratively without a horse.

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