Richard III

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 2

page Act 1 Scene 2 Page 4

Original Text

Modern Text

RICHARD

Lady, you know no rules of charity,
70Which renders good for bad, blessings for curses.

RICHARD

Dear woman, you don’t know the rules of charity. When faced with bad, you’re supposed to turn it into good, and when subject to curses, you’re supposed to convert them into blessings.

ANNE

Villain, thou know’st not law of God nor man.
No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity.

ANNE

Villain, you don’t know the laws of God or of man. Even the fiercest wild animal has some touch of pity.

RICHARD

But I know none, and therefore am no beast.

RICHARD

If I know nothing about pity, that must mean I’m not an animal.

ANNE

O, wonderful, when devils tell the truth!

ANNE

It’s amazing to hear a devil speak the truth!

RICHARD

75More wonderful, when angels are so angry.
Vouchsafe, divine perfection of a woman,
Of these supposèd crimes to give me leave
By circumstance but to acquit myself.

RICHARD

It’s even stranger when an angel is so angry. Divine, perfect woman, give me a chance to prove in detail that I’m innocent of the evils you accuse me of.

ANNE

Vouchsafe, defused infection of a man,
80Of these known evils but to give me leave
By circumstance to curse thy cursèd self.

ANNE

Contagious infection of humanity, give me a chance to condemn you for the evils I know you’ve committed.

RICHARD

Fairer than tongue can name thee, let me have
Some patient leisure to excuse myself.

RICHARD

You who are beautiful beyond words, calm down and let me explain myself.

ANNE

Fouler than heart can think thee, thou canst make
85No excuse current but to hang thyself.

ANNE

You who are wicked beyond belief, the only “explanation” I’ll accept from you is for you to hang yourself.

RICHARD

By such despair I should accuse myself.

RICHARD

Such an expression of despair would only prove that I was guilty.

ANNE

And by despairing shalt thou stand excused
For doing worthy vengeance on thyself
That didst unworthy slaughter upon others.

ANNE

Maybe, but if you killed yourself, it would also show that you felt some guilt for killing others.