How does Shakesspeare show the consequences of moral and amoral behaviour in Act 5, scene 3 of Richard III?


Richard III

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In Act 5, Scene 3 the armies of Richard and Richmond are arrayed in tents at Bosworth Field, awaiting the next day's battle. The first sign that Richard's amoral behavior will come back to haunt him is when Lord Stanley, who is only helping Richard out of fear for his son's life, tells the audience that he will sabotage Richard by taking his time in arriving on the battlefield to support him. Then, the audience discovers that the king will literally be haunted by his deeds when a series of ghosts representing the people Richard has murdered arrive, giving their blessing to Richmond and cursing Richmond. The ghost of Prince Edward, for example, tells the sleeping Richard:

Let me sit heavy on thy soul to-morrow!
Think how thou stabb'dst me in my prime of youth
At Tewksbury: despair, therefore, and die!

The spirit then says to Richmond:

Be cheerful, Richmond; for the wronged souls
Of butcher'd princes fight in thy behalf:
King Henry's issue, Richmond, comforts thee.

As the battle begins, Stanley indeed refuses to come to the battlefield, which proves a hinderance to Richard.


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