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Richard III Manipulation Quotes

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

Quote #1

Even so; an't please your worship, Brackenbury,
You may partake of any thing we say:
We speak no treason, man; we say the king
Is wise and virtuous, and his noble queen
Well struck in years, fair, and not jealous;
We say that Shore's wife hath a pretty foot,
A cherry lip, a bonny eye, a passing pleasing tongue;
And that the queen's kindred are made gentlefolks.
How say you, sir? Can you deny all this? (1.1.6)

Richard knows exactly what to say to manipulate his listeners. Brackenbury has walked in on Richard treasonously maligning the queen (and, implicitly, the king). Here Richard covers his tracks. His honeyed words about the queen are a bit over the top – and almost the exact opposite of what he's just said to Clarence. His final question to Brackenbury throws the ball back in his court. For Brackenbury the question is no longer whether Richard is defaming the queen. Instead, he's been distracted into answering whether he agrees with Richard's glowing assessment. By using language and deception, Richard has shifted Brackenbury from being the suspicious interrogator to the suspiciously interrogated. This tactic of flipping the accusation back on the accuser is one Richard will use often, and to good effect.

Quote #2

Well, your imprisonment shall not be long;
I will deliver or else lie for you. (1.1.10)

Richard is tricky as he manipulates Clarence and the language here. It's true that Clarence's imprisonment won't be long – either because he'll be freed or because he'll be killed. Superficially, Richard promises to deliver Clarence from jail, or else "lie" on the chopping block in his place. But in fact Richard means he will deliver Clarence to his maker, and lie (as in deceive) in order to do so. Richard is the master of the double meaning, which is not so difficult when you're surrounded by people who don't question the precision of your language.

Quote #3

Is not the causer of the timeless deaths
Of these Plantagenets, Henry and Edward,
As blameful as the executioner?
Thou wast the cause and most accurs'd effect.
Your beauty was the cause of that effect
Your beauty that did haunt me in my sleep
To undertake the death of all the world
So I might live one hour in your sweet bosom. (1.2.36)

Richard is trying to manipulate Anne by selling her the cheesiest (and perhaps the most inappropriate) line ever. At first it seems like Anne sees right through him and might therefore be able to withstand the pressure of manipulation.

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