Richard III

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

Yea, Richard, when I know, for I protest
As yet I do not. But, as I can learn,
He hearkens after prophecies and dreams,
55And from the crossrow plucks the letter G,
And says a wizard told him that by “G”
His issue disinherited should be.
And for my name of George begins with G,
It follows in his thought that I am he.
60These, as I learn, and such like toys as these
Have moved his Highness to commit me now.
I’ll tell you as soon as I know, Richard, because at this point I have no idea. All I’ve been able to find out is that our brother the king has been listening to prophecies and dreams. He picked out the letter “G” from the alphabet and said a wizard told him that “G” will take the throne away from his children. He thinks “G” is me. I’ve learned that this, along with other frivolous reasons like it, is what prompted the king to send me to prison.
Why, this it is when men are ruled by women.
'Tis not the king that sends you to the Tower.
My Lady Grey his wife, Clarence, ’tis she
65That tempers him to this extremity.
Was it not she and that good man of worship,
Anthony Woodeville, her brother there,
That made him send Lord Hastings to the Tower,
From whence this present day he is delivered?
70We are not safe, Clarence. We are not safe.
Well, this is what happens when men let themselves be ruled by women. The king isn’t the one sending you to the Tower, Clarence. It’s his wife, Lady Grey, who got him to do this. Remember how she and her brother, Anthony Woodeville, made him send Lord Hastings to the Tower? Hastings was just released. We’re not safe, Clarence, we’re not safe.
By heaven, I think there is no man is secure
But the queen’s kindred and night-walking heralds
That trudge betwixt the king and Mistress Shore.
Heard ye not what an humble suppliant
75Lord Hastings was to her for his delivery?
By God, I think the only people who are safe are the queen’s own relatives and the late-night messengers the king uses to fetch his mistress, Mistress Shore. Did you hear how Lord Hastings had to beg the queen to be freed?
Humbly complaining to her deity
Got my Lord Chamberlain his liberty.
I’ll tell you what: I think it is our way,
If we will keep in favor with the king,
80To be her men and wear her livery.
The jealous o'erworn widow and herself,
Since that our brother dubbed them gentlewomen,
Are mighty gossips in this monarchy.
Hastings got his freedom by bowing down to that goddess. And I’ll tell you what. If we want to stay in the king’s good graces, we’re going have to act like the


Richard implies that Mistress Shore and the queen did not belong to the rank of gentry.

servants, too. Ever since our brother made them gentlewomen, Mistress Shore and the queen have become mighty busybodies in our kingdom.