Search Menu

Richard III

William Shakespeare


Act II, scenes i–ii

page 1 of 2

Act II, scenes i–ii

Act II, scenes i–ii

Act II, scenes i–ii

Act II, scenes i–ii

Act II, scenes i–ii

Summary: Act II, scene i

A flourish of trumpets sounds, and the sickly King Edward IV enters with his family, his wife’s family, and his advisors. Edward says that there has been too much quarreling among these factions, and he insists that everybody apologize and make peace with one another. He also announces that he has sent a letter of forgiveness to the Tower of London, where his brother Clarence has been imprisoned and sentenced to death. (At this point, King Edward does not know that his other brother, Richard, has intercepted his message and has caused Clarence to be killed.)

With a great deal of urging, King Edward finally gets the noblemen Buckingham and Hastings to make peace with Queen Elizabeth and her kinsmen (Rivers, Dorset, and Gray), promising to forget their long-standing conflicts. Richard himself then enters, and, at the king’s request, gives a very noble-sounding speech in which he apologizes for any previous hostility toward Buckingham, Hastings, or the queen’s family, and presents himself as a friend to all. Peace seems to have been restored.

But when Elizabeth asks King Edward to forgive Clarence and summon him to the palace, Richard reacts as if Elizabeth is deliberately making fun of him. He springs the news of Clarence’s death on the group. With calculated manipulation, he reminds Edward of his guilt in condemning Clarence to death and says that the cancellation of the sentence was delivered too slowly. The grieving, guilty Edward begins to blame himself for his brother’s death.

Stanley, the earl of Derby, suddenly rushes in to beg the king to spare the life of a servant condemned to death. Edward angrily blasts his noblemen for not having interceded to save Clarence when the king himself let his anger run away with him. The already sick Edward suddenly seems to grow sicker, suffering from grief and guilt. He has to be helped to his bed.

Read a translation of Act II, scene i →

Summary: Act II, scene ii

Later, in another room in the palace, the duchess of York, the mother of Richard, Clarence, and King Edward, is comforting Clarence’s two young children. The boy and girl ask their grandmother if their father is dead, and she, lying to try to spare them, tells them he is not. But the duchess knows how evil her son Richard really is and that he killed his brother, and she grieves that she ever gave birth to him.

Suddenly, Elizabeth enters, lamenting out loud with her hair disheveled, a common sign of grief on the Elizabethan stage. Elizabeth tells the duchess that King Edward has died, and the duchess joins her in mourning. All four make ritualistic lamentations. The two children cry for their dead father, Clarence; Elizabeth cries for her dead husband, Edward; and the duchess cries for both of her dead sons—Edward and Clarence.

Test Your Understanding with the Act II, scenes i–ii Quiz

Take a quiz on this section
Test Your Understanding with the Act II, scenes i–ii Quiz



What did Edward send to the Tower of London that Richard has intercepted?
A death warrant
A deployment of guards
Test Your Understanding with the Act II, scenes i–ii Quiz

Act II, scenes i–ii QUIZ

Test Your Understanding with the Act II, scenes i–ii Quiz

More Help

Previous Next
He's Created a Thoroughly Rotten King

by ReadingShakespeareby450th, June 11, 2013

Richard III is a fun read because the king is so evil. I'm reading all of Shakespeare by his 450th birthday, and this play gave me a great gift idea. See my blog about Richard III and a present for the Bard:


5 out of 8 people found this helpful

Amazing, a great help

by SparkNoteInspired, June 19, 2014

I wanted to find out about shakespeare and I did!!


1 out of 1 people found this helpful

How about a bedtime story?

by hellorichard, March 02, 2016

Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful princ3 he had a magnificent diving board in his back garden tthat he dived off every Tuesday evening after supper. Next chapter, however the princess was very lonely he needed another prince to satisfy his lonelyeenes ( the guy who made autocorrect is as much hated as Justin Bieber.) so he got married to her. the end! but wait there is just one last twist that twist is........................................................


10 out of 28 people found this helpful

See all 8 readers' notes   →