Essential Passage 1: Act 1, Scene 2
Fairer than tongue can name thee, let me have
Some patient leisure to excuse myself.
Fouler than heart can think thee, thou canst make
No excuse current but to hang thyself.
By such despair I should accuse myself.
And by despairing shalt thou stand excus'd;
For doing worthy vengeance on thyself,
That didst unworthy slaughter upon others.
Say that I slew them not?
Then say they were not slain:
But dead they are, and, devilish slave, by thee.
I did not kill your husband.
Why, then he is alive.
Nay, he is dead; and slain by Edward's hand.
In thy foul throat thou liest: Queen Margaret saw
Thy murderous falchion smoking in his blood;
The which thou once didst bend against her breast,
But that thy brothers beat aside the point.
I was provoked by her slanderous tongue
That laid their guilt upon my guiltless shoulders.
Thou wast provoked by thy bloody mind,
That never dreamt on aught but butcheries:
Didst thou not kill this king?
I grant ye.
Dost grant me, hedgehog? then, God grant me too
Thou mayst be damned for that wicked deed!
O, he was gentle, mild, and virtuous.
The better for the king of Heaven, that hath him.
He is in heaven, where thou shalt never come.
Let him thank me that holp to send him thither,
For he was fitter for that place than earth.
And thou unfit for any place but hell.
Lady Anne, widow of Edward (the son of the late King Henry VI), is following the funeral procession of her husband and father-in-law when she is accosted by Richard, the Duke of Gloucester. Anne makes it very clear that she despises Richard for the murderer that he is. Yet Richard has plans, namely marrying the widow of the man he so recently killed. Richard approaches Anne and begins to court her, flattering her in spite of her venomous response. With every verbal stab, Richard flips it, and tries to slime his way into her good will. And with every flirtation, Anne throws it back into his face. Evil is good, good is evil. Somehow, Richard manages to break down Anne’s defenses, weakening her hatred into the cold acceptance that marriage to her husband’s murderer might be the only recourse she has. Once Richard sees that his manipulation of Anne’s “womanly feelings” has worked, he rejoices, even as he admits to the audience that he has little love for Anne. It is clear that Anne is merely a tool in his plans and that eventually she too will be tossed aside, most likely at the cost of her life.
Essential Passage 2: Act 1, Scene 3
Now they believe it; and withal whet me
To be reveng'd on Rivers, Vaughn, Grey:
But then I sigh; and, with a piece of Scripture,
Tell them that God bids us do good for evil:
And thus I clothe my naked villany
With odd old ends stol'n forth of holy writ;
And seem a saint when most I play the devil.
Richard has openly run afoul of Queen Elizabeth and her family. Prior to this, his ill feelings toward his sister-in-law stayed in the background, mostly in comments that resulted in rumors, which were in turn reported to Elizabeth herself. When Edward IV’s illness is revealed as serious (and thus the succession to the throne becomes foremost in everyone’s minds), the situation comes out into the open and outright wrangling breaks out. While the “family” is busy accusing each other of treachery and deception, Queen Margaret (the widow of Henry VI) enters into the scene. She accuses them all of the treachery they have been accusing each other. Her...