Richard III "Off With His Head"
by William Shakespeare

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"Off With His Head"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The various lords are talking about the proper day for the Coronation of Edward as King Edward V. Hastings says that he can speak for Richard, Duke of Gloucester and Lord Protector, because he loves Richard and Richard loves him. At this moment, Richard enters and with sugared words declares his affection for Hastings. The announcement of plans for the Coronation upsets him, however, because his own devilish schemes are not quite ripe. Deceptively he asks Hastings the punishment due to anybody who conspires his death. Hastings answers the punishment should be death. Richard then accuses Edward's wife, "that monstrous witch," and his mistress, that "harlot strumpet Shore," of bewitching him and withering up his arm. The following lines reveal Richard's plotting and his uncontrollable temper:

If they have done this deed, my noble lord–
If? Thou protector of this damned strumpet,
Talk'st thou to me of ifs? Thou art a traitor.
Off with his head. Now by Saint Paul I swear,
I will not dine, until I see the same.
. . .