friends suspect for traitors while thou liv’st,
take deep traitors for thy dearest friends.
sleep close up that deadly eye of thine,
it be while some tormenting dream
thee with a hell of ugly devils.
abortive, rooting hog,
Thou that wast sealed
in thy nativity
The slave of nature and the
son of hell.
Thou slander of thy heavy mother’s
Thou loathèd issue of thy father’s loins.
rag of honour, thou detested—
Margaret delivers this invective at
the conclusion of her long diatribe of curses against the Yorks
and the Woodevilles. The speech, and the scene that accompanies
it, is extremely important to the play, because it foreshadows the
ends of nearly all the major characters, including the deaths of
the queen’s kinsmen and the fall from grace of Elizabeth. Here,
Margaret foreshadows Richard’s end by cursing him to mistake his
friends for enemies, as he ultimately does with Buckingham, and
his enemies for friends, as he does with Stanley. She also curses
him to sleeplessness, which he experiences the night before the
Battle of Bosworth Field, when the ghosts of those he has murdered
visit him. As a prophetic curse, the speech is one of the most notable
instances of supernaturalism in the play, and it also contains some
of the play’s most forceful and memorable language (“Thou elvish-marked,
abortive, rooting hog”) in the form of -Margaret’s insults.