Richard III

by: William Shakespeare

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 2

Thy friends suspect for traitors while thou liv’st,
And take deep traitors for thy dearest friends.
No sleep close up that deadly eye of thine,
Unless it be while some tormenting dream
Affrights thee with a hell of ugly devils.
Thou elvish-marked, 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 womb.
Thou loathèd issue of thy father’s loins.
Thou rag of honour, thou detested—
         (I.iii.220–230)

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.