Study Guide

Richard III Family

By William Shakespeare


In Richard III family is not the lovey-dovey stuff of The Simpsons' Flanders family. After all, we're talking about a family that was at each others' throats for a good 30 years.  The play takes domestic backstabbing, treachery, and murder to a whole new level. The worst offender, of course, is Richard, who has his brother murdered, hires a hit man to snuff out his nephews, and manages to turn his own mother against him.  (And these are just warm-up exercises.)  Although Richard embodies the horrors of family violence, very few characters in this play are innocent. 

Questions About Family

  1. Explain how politics and domestic matters intersect in this play.  Can family ever be separated from politics and matters of state?
  2. Pointing to specific examples in the play, discuss how acts of familial violence come back to haunt the characters.
  3. When and why does Richard's own mother turn against him?
  4. Mothers are ever-present in the play, advocating for their sons, but also judging them. Discuss the role mothers play in <em>Richard III</em>.  What role, if any, do <em>fathers</em> play?

Chew on This

Richard is the embodiment of familial violence.

Family matters are inextricable from political affairs in <em>Richard III</em>.