Every villain needs their hero and Richmond is the perfect hero to vanquish Richard. He is characterized as the very antithesis of Richard; he is just, heroic, and good, whereas Richard is tyrannical, scheming, and amoral. Shakespeare effectively juxtaposes the two men on the eve of battle in 5.3 when the ghosts visit Richard and Richmond in their dreams. Each ghost, among them Edward, Clarence, Anne, the princes, and more, condemns Richard and praises Richmond. Richard wakes justifiably rattled whereas Richmond awakens from the “sweetest sleep” (Act 5, Secen 3, line 225).
In addition to crafting a perfect hero to vanquish his perfect villain, Shakespeare also likely had historical and political reasons to celebrate Richmond. Richmond is a Lancaster and his later marriage to Princess Elizabeth of House York brought an end to the War of the Roses and established the Tudor line that was still in control during Shakespeare’s time. It is possible that Shakespeare aimed to flatter the current royal family (who were his patrons) by including such a glowing account of their ancestor in his play.