Richard III

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
30I am determinèd to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams,
To set my brother Clarence and the king
35In deadly hate, the one against the other;
And if King Edward be as true and just
As I am subtle, false, and treacherous,
This day should Clarence closely be mewed up
About a prophecy which says that “G”
40Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be.
Dive, thoughts, down to my soul. Here Clarence comes.
Since I can’t amuse myself by being a lover, I’ve decided to become a villain. I’ve set dangerous plans in motion, using lies, drunken prophecies, and stories about dreams to set my brother Clarence and the king against each other. If King Edward is as honest and fair-minded as I am deceitful and cruel, then Clarence is going to be locked away in prison today because of a prophecy that


Edward interprets “G” to mean George, Duke of Clarence, though ironically it could just as well mean Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

will murder Edward’s children. Oh, time to hide what I’m thinking—here comes Clarence.
Enter CLARENCE, guarded, and BRAKENBURY
CLARENCE enters, surrounded by guards, with BRAKENBURY.
Brother, good day. What means this armèd guard
That waits upon your Grace?
Good afternoon, brother. Why are you surrounded by these armed guards?
     His majesty,
Tend'ring my person’s safety, hath appointed
45This conduct to convey me to the Tower.
His majesty is so concerned about my personal safety that he has ordered them to conduct me to the


The Tower of London, where political prisoners were kept.

Upon what cause?
You’re being arrested? Why?
   Because my name is George.
Because my name is George.
Alack, my lord, that fault is none of yours.
He should, for that, commit your godfathers.
O, belike his majesty hath some intent
50That you shall be new christened in the Tower.
But what’s the matter, Clarence? May I know?
That’s not your fault! He should imprison the person who named you, instead. Maybe the king is sending you to the Tower to have you renamed. But, really, what’s going on, Clarence? Can you tell me?