Richard III Important Quotations
by William Shakespeare

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Important Quotations

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!
Ha!
(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...

(The entire section is 587 words.)