Important Quotations

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
(I, i)

Richard's evil ambitions are made manifest at the very outset of the play. His only aim is to wreak chaos in the kingdom, and ultimately become king himself. He appears one-dimensionally evil.

And I no friends to back my suit withal,
But the plain devil and dissembling looks,
And yet to win her,--all the world to nothing!
(I, iii)

Here Richard acknowledges that his evil ambitions are his own, and that he has "no friends" to back him (though he has allies). At the same time, he seems to take a perverse joy in winning the hand of Lady Anne -- whose husband's death Richard had a hand in.

O, no! alas, I rather hate myself
For hateful deeds committed by myself!
I am a villain: yet I lie, I am not.
Fool, of thyself speak well:--fool, do not flatter.
(V, iii)

Richard speaks these words after awaking from his dream where the ghosts of many of those he killed appeared. His confusions shows how he is alienated from even himself; he is a confused, wrecked man.

O bloody Richard!--miserable England!
I prophesy the fearfull'st time to thee
That ever wretched age hath look'd upon.--
Come, lead me to the block; bear him my head:
They smile at me who shortly shall be dead.
(III, iv)

Hastings, about to be executed, laments the state of England. An important aspect of the play is not the villainy of Richard himself, but the fact that his villainy leads England into civil war -- after the country had already been torn apart by previous civil wars.

Alas, why would you heap those cares on me?
I am unfit for state and majesty:--
I do beseech you, take it not amiss:
I cannot nor I will not yield to you
(III, vii)

Richard's plan coming to fruition, he dissembles in proclaiming that he does not think himself fit to be a king. Of course, he finally "consents" to be king. All of Shakespeare's villains portray this skill at masking their hidden desires to further their aims.

Cousin, thou wast not wont to be so dull:--
Shall I be plain?--I wish the bastards dead;
And I would have it suddenly perform'd.
What say'st thou now? speak suddenly, be brief.
(IV, ii)

Richard's cruelty is indeed blunt. Here he chastizes Buckingham for failing to understand his desire and makes it very clear what he wants.

And both the princes had been breathing here,
Which now, two tender bedfellows for dust,
Thy broken faith hath made a prey for worms.
What canst thou swear by now?
(IV, iv)

These are Queen Elizabeth's words to Richard as he attempt to persuade her to allow his marriage to her daughter, and thereby cementing his reign. She refers here to the fact that Richard has killed both of her sons, but in the end agrees to his wishes.

With what a sharp-provided wit he reasons!
To mitigate the scorn he gives his uncle,
He prettily and aptly taunts himself:
So cunning and so young is wonderful.
(III, i)

Buckingham's words about the legitimate heir to Edward IV's throne, he notes the insight of the young boy. Indeed, Edward (Prince of Wales), despite his age, is one of the few characters in the play who sees through Richard's machinations.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Essential Quotes