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Richard III Power Quotes

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

Quote #7

No, so God help me, they spake not a word;
But, like dumb statues or breathing stones,
Star'd each on other, and look'd deadly pale.
Which when I saw, I reprehended them,
And ask'd the mayor what meant this wilfull silence.
His answer was, the people were not used
To be spoke to but by the Recorder.
Then he was urg'd to tell my tale again.
'Thus saith the Duke, thus hath the Duke inferr'd'-
But nothing spoke in warrant from himself.
When he had done, some followers of mine own
At lower end of the hall hurl'd up their caps,
And some ten voices cried 'God save King Richard!'
And thus I took the vantage of those few- (3.7.3)

Richard runs into a roadblock upon having himself declared King. While he's lined up all the machinations to make it possible, he's got to overcome the obstacle of the people's will. As evidenced by the earlier scene with the scrivener, the people don't love or revere Richard, and they are hesitant to turn over the kingdom to him. He can manipulate himself into power, but the fact that the people don't support him doesn't bode well, and even foreshadows his downfall (as they will desert him in droves during the battle with Richmond).

Quote #8

Cousin of Buckingham, and sage grave men,
Since you will buckle fortune on my back,
To bear her burden, whe'er I will or no,
I must have patience to endure the load;
But if black scandal or foul-fac'd reproach
Attend the sequel of your imposition,
Your mere enforcement shall acquittance me
From all the impure blots and stains thereof;
For God doth know, and you may partly see,
How far I am from the desire of this. (3.7.13)

Richard is hell-bent on appearing as though he doesn't want power, though all the people of the kingdom know he maneuvered himself into that position, especially as they didn't support his coronation. This whole scene reeks of a sham. We've got to wonder who Richard thinks he's fooling, and why this guise is so important to keep up. Does seeming to shun his power actually increase it?

Quote #9

I must be married to my brother's daughter,
Or else my kingdom stands on brittle glass.
Murder her brothers, and then marry her!
Uncertain way of gain! But I am in
So far in blood that sin will pluck on sin.
Tear-falling pity dwells not in this eye. (4.2.12)

Richard's speech here foreshadows one made by another of Shakespeare's villains, Macbeth. Macbeth rationalizes crossing the Rubicon of blood and villainy, reasoning to himself about the means necessary to maintain his power: "For mine own good / All causes shall give way. I am in blood / Stepp'd in so far that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o'er" (Macbeth, 3.4). Richard also engages in rationalization, or justification, saying that having already murdered makes the next murder less troublesome. This seems a preparatory sketch for Shakespeare's later work; Macbeth will be a much more developed villain.

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