Richard III

by: William Shakespeare

Richmond

I’ll draw the form and model of our battle, Limit each leader to his several charge, And part in just proportion our small power. (Act V, Scene iii, lines 25–26)

On the day before the battle with Richard’s forces, Richmond demonstrates how a good leader and ruler acts. He places his trusted military leaders in command of his men, showing that he knows how to distribute power and inspire loyalty. His behavior stands in marked contrast to Richard’s on the same evening, who concerns himself only with his own armor and horse, leaving his military leaders and soldiers unprepared for the battle.

O Thou, whose captain I account myself, Look on my forces with a gracious eye. Put in their hands thy bruising irons of wrath, That they may crush down with a heavy fall The usurping helmets of our adversaries! Make us thy ministers of chastisement, That we may praise thee in the victory! To thee I do commend my watchful soul, Ere I let fall the windows of mine eyes. Sleeping and waking, O, defend me still! (Act V, Scene iii, lines 112–121)

On the eve of the battle, Richmond prays to God to help his cause and bring him to victory. This speech puts him in contrast with his foe. Richmond’s words show his piety, while Richard’s monologues focus on his treachery. Further, Richmond knows when to ask for help, while Richard acts alone. Further, throughout the play, Richard is compared to the devil or an agent of the devil, while Richmond here presents himself as a subject of God.

The sweetest sleep and fairest-boding dreams That ever entered in a drowsy head Have I since your departure had, my lords. Methought their souls whose bodies Richard murdered Came to my tent and cried on victory. (Act V, Scene iii, lines 240–244)

The disparate dreams of Richmond and Richard provide another opportunity to juxtapose the two men who are vying for the throne of England. While vengeful ghosts visit Richard, these same ghosts come to Richmond to urge him on in his battle against Richard. The ghosts’ only recourse for revenge is through Richmond’s victory, and they soothe his sleep but disturb Richard’s.

And then, as we have ta'en the sacrament, We will unite the white rose and the red. Smile heaven upon this fair conjunction, That long have frowned upon their enmity. What traitor hears me and says not “Amen?” England hath long been mad and scarred herself. (Act V, Scene v, lines 19–24)

At the end of the play, Richmond secures his victory over Richard and celebrates his future as England’s new king. His marriage to the daughter of King Edward and Queen Elizabeth will join the houses of York and Lancaster, uniting the country and bringing an end to the violence that has long divided England. As Richmond has proven to be a wise commander, he will be a wise ruler and bring peace and stability.