Richard III "The Winter Of Our Discontent"
by William Shakespeare

Richard III book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Download Richard III Study Guide

Subscribe Now

"The Winter Of Our Discontent"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The great Samuel Johnson called this play "one of the most celebrated of our author's performances." Taken from Holinshed's Chronicles, this work has always been one of the theater's greatest triumphs. It picks up where King Henry VI, Part III left off. In that play, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard III, stabbed King Henry, who in his dying breath predicted "more slaughter" for his murderer. With Richard's brother now installed as Edward IV, Richard opens this play with a statement of triumph and with a revelation of his already-planned villainy. The poetic and dramatic intensity of the play is immediately evident. The first lines have become a commonplace, with the play on "sun" as the badge of the House of York:

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
. . .
I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them–
. . .
I am determined to prove a villain,
. . .