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Richard III Power Quotes

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

Quote #4

Truly, the hearts of men are full of fear.
You cannot reason almost with a man
That looks not heavily and full of dread.
Before the days of change, still is it so;
By a divine instinct men's minds mistrust
Ensuing danger; as by proof we see
The water swell before a boist'rous storm.
But leave it all to God. (2.3.5)

This scene gives us a social perspective beyond the internal power politics of the royal family. The citizens speculate about what will happen to the country and reveal that they're probably just as concerned as the royals about who will be England's next leader. We see here that what happens with the throne will have real consequences on the people of England, who are more than just a faceless mob. Also, this scene reminds us that the royals aren't operating in privacy – they're in something of a fishbowl. While Richard may think he's fooling everyone with his manipulations, his evil is obvious to everyone, even outside the royal confines.

Quote #5

Now, my lord, what shall we do if we
perceive Lord Hastings will not yield to our complots?
Chop off his head! (3.1.15)

Richard is knee-deep in his plot by this point. He's already sent the young princes off to the Tower, and he's sent Catesby to feel out Hastings. Riding high on a power trip, Richard feels fairly invincible and famously declares, "Chop off his head!" (The more famous line, "Off with his head! So much for Buckingham!" isn't Shakespeare's at all, but came from Colley Cibber's later reinterpretation of Shakespeare's play.)

Quote #6

Here's a good world the while! Who is so gross
That cannot see this palpable device?
Yet who's so bold but says he sees it not?
Bad is the world; and all will come to nought,
When such ill dealing must be seen in thought. (3.6.1)

The scrivener describes the effects of power: Richard may be a great manipulator, but he's not really fooling anyone in the kingdom. What's keeping them quiet isn't his prowess at lying, it's their fear of his impetuous wrath.

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