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Richard III Manipulation Quotes

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

Quote #4

If thy revengeful heart cannot forgive,
Lo here I lend thee this sharp-pointed sword;
Which if thou please to hide in this true breast
And let the soul forth that adoreth thee,
I lay it naked to the deadly stroke,
And humbly beg the death upon my knee.
[He lays his breast open; she offers at it with his sword] (1.2.48)

Richard masterfully manipulates Anne here. Up to this point, she's been entirely impervious to his words. Here he changes his tactic, inviting her to make good on her words. Still, we know there's no way he would allow Anne to stab him if he thought she would really do it.  Again, he's finding her weakness and playing on it, all while seeming like he's repentant and a good guy.

Quote #5

I do the wrong, and first begin to brawl.
The secret mischiefs that I set abroach
I lay unto the grievous charge of others.
Clarence, who I indeed have cast in darkness,
I do beweep to many simple gulls;
Namely, to Derby, Hastings, Buckingham;
And tell them 'tis the queen and her allies
That stir the king against the Duke my brother.
Now they believe it, and withal whet me
To be reveng'd on Rivers, Dorset, Gray;
But then I sigh and, with a piece of Scripture,
Tell them that God bids us do good for evil.
And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With odd old ends stol'n forth of holy writ,
And seem a saint when most I play the devil. (1.3.28)

Richard hits on an important aspect of manipulation here. People have to want to believe him, or have some reason to set aside their skepticism. In this case, Richard will set everyone against each other by playing on preexisting tensions. Also, Richard says he's doing everything under the cloak of the Scripture, and people hardly want to disbelieve a holy man. (Think of when he will later surround himself with priests.) Richard is taking advantage of people by making a phony appeal to God.

Quote #6

But he, poor man, by your first order died,
And that a winged Mercury did bear;
Some tardy cripple bare the countermand
That came too lag to see him buried.
God grant that some, less noble and less loyal,
Nearer in bloody thoughts, an not in blood,
Deserve not worse than wretched Clarence did,
And yet go current from suspicion! (2.1.4)

Richard essentially points out that Edward's condemnation of Clarence, and his tardiness in issuing a pardon, are responsible for Clarence's death. Richard voices hope that others who deserved much worse than Clarence don't run free while the innocent Clarence was so wrongfully killed. Basically, Richard is needling Edward by implying that the blame for Clarence's death is his.

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