lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight.
fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh.
do I fear? Myself? There’s none else by.
loves Richard; that is, I am I.
Is there a
murderer here? No. Yes, I am.
Then fly! What,
from myself? Great reason. Why:
Lest I revenge.
Myself upon myself?
Alack, I love myself.
Wherefore? For any good
That I myself have
done unto myself?
O no, alas, I rather hate
For hateful deeds committed by myself.
am a villain.
Richard makes this speech immediately
after his visitations by the ghosts; it is perhaps the only moment
in the play in which he reveals any self-doubt, conscience, or regret
for his brutal actions. Richard seems to wake up, and he is so full
of fear that he is sweating. To calm his fear, he reminds himself
that he is by himself and therefore safe. But he is seized with
renewed horror when he realizes that he himself is the most frightening
person he could be left alone with. He asks himself rhetorically
whether there is a murderer with him, and he realizes that he himself
is a mass-murderer.
Frightened, Richard tells himself to run away, but he
realizes that he cannot flee from himself. He asks himself whether
he is frightened of his own revenge against himself. This idea is
very interesting—the forces driving Richard have always been mysterious,
and here he seems to allude to some inner demon from which even
he is not safe. But he quickly moves past this thought to assert
that he could not hurt himself because he loves himself. However,
he immediately realizes that he does not love himself, because he
has never done anything good that merits love. Instead, he hates
himself for the evil he has done to others. In the first speech
of the play, Richard declares that he is determined “to prove a
villain” (I.i.30). He now declares that he
has become one (“I am a villain”). But rather than feel that he
has achieved his goal, Richard is suddenly afflicted with moral
loathing and self-doubt, a psychological undermining that may contribute
to his downfall during the battle.