Henry VI Part 3

by: William Shakespeare

Act V, Scenes v-vii

Summary Act V, Scenes v-vii


Edward enters the palace with Richard and George, followed by Margaret, Oxford, and Somerset under guard. Edward sends Oxford to prison and Somerset to his death. Prince Edward is brought in. The prince, though a prisoner, demands that Edward stand down from the throne. Richard insults the prince, who declares that he is better than all three traitorous and usurping brothers. Edward, Richard, and George, in turn, stab the prince to death. Margaret faints, and Richard slips off to the Tower.

Margaret recovers and mourns for her son, calling Edward and his brothers butchers for having slain a child. Margaret asks George to kill her, but he won't. She calls for Richard to kill her, but he is gone. She is escorted away.

Richard arrives at Henry's prison room in the Tower. Henry suspects Richard has come to kill him, having heard of his son's death. He compares himself to Daedalus and his son to Icarus, who both fled from Crete with wax wings, but Icarus died when he flew too close to the son and his wings melted. Henry likens Edward to the sun that melted Prince Edward's wax wings, and Richard to the sea that he drowned in.

Henry predicts that thousands will weep for their dead sons, husbands, or parents because of Richard's future deeds. All these people: "Shall rue the hour that ever thou wast born. / The owl shrieked at thy birth--an evil sign... / Teeth hadst thou in thy head when thou wast born, / To signify thou cam'st to bite the world" (V.v.43-4,53-4). Richard interrupts his speech and stabs Henry to death.

Richard ruminates over Henry's body, thinking of reports he heard his mother give about his unusual birth, that he was born feet first, with teeth already. He says: "Then, since the heavens have shaped my body so, Let hell make crooked my mind to answer it. I have no father, I am like no father; I have no brother, I am like no brother; And this word 'love', which greybeards call divine, Be resident in men like one another And not in me--I am myself alone." (V.v.78-84)

Henry and his son are dead; Richard next shall spread rumors about George and cause his downfall. He departs with Henry's body.