"Sleep In Abraham's Bosom"

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Last Updated on August 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 168

Context: Richard, Duke of Gloucester, has been crowned King Richard III. He realizes, however, that this crown is not secure. He knows the necessary course of his actions. He must have his nephews, the sons of Edward IV, murdered, must marry their sister, and must dispose of the two children of his other brother, Clarence. Tyrrel agrees to kill the young Princes Edward and Richard in the Tower. He and Dighton, another professional murderer, "smothered/ The most replenished sweet work of nature." When Richard is told of the death of the princes, he pauses to take stock of himself and to chart his further moves. Ironically he paraphrases the Bible (Luke XVI, 22: "The beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom") in discussing the princes whom he has had slain:

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The son of Clarence have I pent up close,
His daughter meanly have I matched in marriage,
The sons of Edward sleep in Abraham's bosom,
And Anne my wife hath bid this world good night.
. . .

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