Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Step 1 of 4
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial.
Get instant access to all the benefits of SparkNotes PLUS! Cancel within the first 7 days and you won't be charged. We'll even send you a reminder.
Already have an account? Log in
Create Your Account
Step 2 of 4
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
Choose Your Plan
Step 3 of 4
Add Your Payment Details
Add Your Payment Details
Step 4 of 4
US + tax
You'll be billed only after your free trial ends.
7-day Free Trial
Total due on May 31, 2022
This is not a valid promo code.
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
Richard III is a play by William Shakespeare that was first performed in 1633. Read Richard III here, with side-by-side No Fear translations into modern English.
Richard, Duke of Gloucester, schemes to become the next king after his brother Edward IV dies, first by manipulating Edward to put their other brother Clarence in prison. Then he plans to marry Lady Anne Neville.
Richard tells Anne that his passion for her drove him to kill King Henry and Prince Edward, and tries to give her a ring. She angrily resists him, but agrees to meet him later.
The dying King Edward wants to make peace between Queen Elizabeth’s family and his own family, but Richard and Elizabeth start to argue. Queen Margaret, widow of Henry VI, blames the family for her downfall and sorrow, and curses them all.
In the tower, Clarence has a dream about drowning, visiting the underworld, and confronting those whom he has helped kill. Richard’s hired murderers arrive and, after some wavering of conscience, kill Clarence.
King Edward IV urges all his family and noblemen to make peace, and Richard delivers a convincing apology. King Edward orders that Clarence be released, but Richard reveals that Clarence is already dead and blames Edward.
While the Duchess of York comforts Clarence’s children, Queen Elizabeth announces King Edward’s death. Richard and Buckingham become allies, and decide to take Prince Edward to London to be crowned.
Citizens discuss politics, and worry that Prince Edward is too young to rule. They also worry about Richard’s evil nature and the power struggle occurring between him and Elizabeth’s kinsmen.
While Queen Elizabeth waits in London for her son Prince Edward, she learns that her supporters have been arrested. Elizabeth flees to sanctuary.
Richard, Buckingham, and Catesby discuss whether Lord Hastings and Lord Stanley would be willing to help Richard become king. They decide to meet the next day to strategize and initiate their plans, under the guise of crowning Prince Edward.
Lord Stanley has a foreboding dream about Richard and tries to persuade Lord Hastings to flee with him, but Hastings dismisses his fears. Hastings reacts with horror to Catesby's suggestion that Richard be king, unaware that Richard plans to behead him if he doesn't support the scheme.
Rivers, Grey, and Vaughan lament their execution as they enter Pomfret Castle, concluding that Queen Margaret's curse was punishment for their hand in Henry VI's death. They pray that God honor her curse against Richard, but forgive her curse against Queen Elizabeth.
Buckingham tells Richard that Hastings will be loyal to Prince Edward. Richard accuses Queen Elizabeth of conspiring with Hastings' mistress to cast a spell that deformed him, and sentences Hastings to death.
Buckingham convinces the Lord Mayor that Hastings was a traitor, and starts spreading rumors that the princes aren't legitimate heirs.
A scribe copies the letter that will be read to the public accusing Hastings as a traitor, but implies that everyone knows it is false.
The public does not support Buckingham's proposal that Richard become king. Instead, Richard and Buckingham trick the Lord Mayor into asking Richard to be king.
Queen Elizabeth and Anne, now married to Richard, are told they cannot see the imprisoned princes. Stanley tells Anne that Richard is about to be crowned and she must be crowned Queen, but she believes Richard will ruin England and that her own curse against him has come true.
Richard wants Buckingham to murder the princes, but Buckingham hesitates, causing Richard to reject him and give the mission to a lowlife named Tyrrel. Richard plans to murder his wife Queen Anne and marry young Elizabeth, so he has Catesby spread rumors that Anne is sick.
Richard recaps his actions to remove all threats to his power: he killed the princes and Queen Anne, removed Clarence's children, and he will woo and marry young Elizabeth. Ratcliffe tells Richard that some noblemen have deserted to Richmond in France, and Buckingham is now leading an army against him.
Margaret rages at the Duchess of York and Elizabeth for Richard's bloodlust, prompting them to curse at him. Richard proposes to Elizabeth that he marry her daughter to avoid civil war, and then finds out that Richmond is leading a big army, and Buckingham has been captured.
Stanley secretly meets a lord of Richmond's and tells him that he wants to join their forces, but Richard has taken his son as hostage to prevent this. He sends regards to Richmond and the message that Elizabeth has agreed to give Richard her daughter to marry.
Just before Buckingham's execution, he ponders all his wrongdoing, and concludes that Margaret was right and he deserves to die.
Stanley sends a letter informing Richmond of Richard's army's location, and Richmond's men think that Richard's men are only with him out of fear and will probably desert him. They ride confidently into battle.
Richard is haunted by dreams in which his victims appear to him as bad omens, and he finally searches his soul and realizes that he hates himself as a murderer. The same ghosts appear in Richmond's dreams as good omens, and the next morning as the battle commences, Stanley mutinies and refuses to send his army to Richard.
Richard fights like crazy as he searches for Richmond, believing Richmond has planted decoys to fool him, and refuses Catesby's help.
Richmond kills Richard and wins the war. He is crowned king, plans to marry young Elizabeth, and England is at peace.