The Tragedy of King Richard the Third
Type of work
Time and place written
Around 1592, London
Date of first publication
Shakespeare’s attitude toward Richard is one of condemnation and
disgust, combined with a penetrating fascination with the mind of
the power-hungry psychopath.
Around 1485, though the actual
historical events of the play took place over a much longer period,
Various palaces and locales in England
Richard, the power-hungry younger brother of the king
of England, longs to seize control of the throne, but he is far
back in the line of succession. He plots and manipulates his way
past the obstacles in his path to power, betraying and murdering
with reckless abandon as he proceeds.
Richard persuades Lady Anne, Prince Edward’s widow,
to marry him; he has his brother Clarence murdered; he has the two
young princes in line for the throne murdered .
In Act III, scene vii, Buckingham and others entreat
Richard to accept the crown, which he pretends to refuse and then
Richard turns against Buckingham and murders the young princes
and his wife Anne; Richmond defeats Richard at the Battle of Bosworth
The allure of evil; the relationship between ruler
and state; the power of language; the rise of the Tudor dynasty
The supernatural, dreams
The play is full of foreshadowing, including Margaret’s
curses (which foreshadow almost all the future action of the play), Richard’s
monologues, the prophetic dreams of Clarence and Stanley, and the
pronouncements of the ghosts in Act V.