Student Question

How does the quote from Act 2, Scene 4 of Richard III support the play's theme?

"The tiger now hath seized the gentle hind; / Insulting tyranny begins to jut / Upon the innocent and aweless throne"

Quick answer:

This quote about tyranny supports the theme of the play in that it reveals that Richard III is a tiger-like, power-hungry ruler who will stop at nothing to achieve his ends. His maneuvers to gain power are ruthless. Queen Elizabeth knows this and tries to remove herself and her child from danger upon realizing how serious the situation is.

Expert Answers

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This particular Shakespeare play is quite long. Consequently, it explores a variety of themes. I am unsure as to which theme this question is pointing toward.

The line in question appears near the end of the scene. A messenger has just delivered some bad news. Lord Rivers, Lord Gray, and Sir Thomas Vaughn have all be jailed in Promfret Castle. This is the same castle where King Richard II died. The news is exceedingly bad because imprisonment usually precedes execution. The orders came from Richard, but the messenger is unable to provide information about why the men have been taken prisoner. Elizabeth needs no such information. She correctly interprets the news. She knows that her family is being targeted and is likely to die. Elizabeth is not naive. She knows that Richard is manipulating people and politics in an attempt to gain more power.

Richard III's lust for power and control is a theme of the play, and it is closely tied to a theme that focuses on manipulation. These themes are best illustrated through Richard's continual maneuvers to secure current power and gain additional power. Elizabeth correctly points out that Richard is a ruthless tiger preying upon weaker and innocent prey. Her response is quick and decisive. She decides to seek safety for herself and son by escaping.

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