Richard III Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Why is Queen Margaret so important in Richard III?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Queen Margaret has a small role in the play, but she is important in representing all the powerless people who have been hurt by Richard III and in general by the bloodshed and disruption caused by the War of the Roses. She has no real say in what happens and is dependent on those who killed her relatives and put her in this powerless position, but she does have a voice—and she uses it.

Her curses in act 1 are famous, both for being so venomous and also for coming true. If Margaret is the stand-in or proxy for all the powerless people in England who have been wronged by abusers they can't fight back against, Shakespeare seems to be saying that God is listening to their complaints and poetic justice will be done.

Margaret is a one-dimensional character, defined by her bitter and relentless anger, but we also sympathize with her. She has every right to be consumed with rage. As she says to Richard III:

Out, devil! I remember them too well:
Thou slewest my husband Henry in the Tower,
And...

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unspeakable49 | Student

Queen Margaret's foreshadowing and prophecies are essential to the play. In the first scene that she appears in, in cursing all the courtier, she basically outlines the plot of the play. Each of them dies/suffers in the order that she predicts. The importance of her curses is further increased when each character recalls her prophetic words at the time of his death. Eg) Buckingham, Stanley.

Margaret is also one of the three prominent female characters. The women in the play have an important role. They illustrate the devastation that Richard has caused through their melodramatic speeches and hysterics. Their state in the play also reflects the position of women at that time in society - how helpless and submissive they are. Margaret stands up to the male characters, but at the end of the day, she can only curse them and has no other means of attack.

She is also the only character we see from the House of Lancaster. The play has historical context to it, and in that, she is important to link the past and present of the play.