Richard III

by: William Shakespeare

Act 1 Scene 1

page Act 1 Scene 1 Page 1

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Enter RICHARD, Duke of Gloucester, solus
RICHARD, Duke of Gloucester, enters alone.


Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this son of York,
And all the clouds that loured upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
5Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths,
Our bruisèd arms hung up for monuments,
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrinkled front;
10And now, instead of mounting barbèd steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
15Nor made to court an amorous looking glass;
I, that am rudely stamped and want love’s majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
20Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them—
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
25Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to see my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity.


Now all of my family’s troubles have come to a glorious end, thanks to my brother, King Edward IV. All the clouds that threatened the York family have vanished and turned to sunshine. Now we wear the wreaths of victory on our heads. We’ve taken off our armor and weapons and hung them up as decorations. Instead of hearing trumpets call us to battle, we dance at parties. We get to wear easy smiles on our faces rather than the grim expressions of war. Instead of charging toward our enemies on armored horses, we dance for our ladies in their chambers, accompanied by sexy songs on the lute. But I’m not made to be a seducer, or to make faces at myself in the mirror. I was badly made and don’t have the looks to strut my stuff in front of pretty sluts. I’ve been cheated of a nice body and face, or even normal proportions. I am deformed, spit out from my mother’s womb prematurely and so badly formed that dogs bark at me as I limp by them. I’m left with nothing to do in this weak, idle peacetime, unless I want to look at my lumpy shadow in the sun and sing about that.