Monday, January 01, 2007

Y9: Summary of Richard III.
Richard III Summary

Richard III does have a pretty complicated plot. This is because:
a) It’s the last one in a series of four plays: Henry VIth Part One, Henry VIth Part Two, Henry VIth Part Three and Richard III. Reading it is a bit like coming in to a film halfway through.
b) It’s based on real history, and real history is always more complicated than stories someone made up.
c) Because it’s history, Shakespeare had to use real names and a lot of them are the same: it’s easy to get the four Edwards (three in the play and another one mentioned), two Richards (both in the play), two Elizabeths (one in the play and another mentioned), two Margarets (both in the play) and two Henrys (one in the play and another one mentioned) mixed up!

· Richard, Duke of Gloucester, hates the new peace made possible by the triumph of his brother Edward IV and the House of York. Secretly he plots the downfall of those who stand between him and the throne.
· Richard convinces Edward IV to send their own brother Clarence to jail because his name starts with a G (George, Duke of Clarence) and a wizard has predicted someone whose initial is G will prevent Edward’s sons being kings.
· On his way to see his brother Edward IV who is sick, Richard meets Anne Neville, widow of Edward Prince of Wales, King Henry VI's son. She is taking Henry VI's body to be buried and is angry with Richard for killing both her husband and her father-in-law.
· Richard tells Anne that he killed her husband Prince Edward and her father in law King Henry VI because he loves her and wanted her for himself. She seems convinced!
· Queen Elizabeth, King Edward IV's wife, says that Richard would look after the kingdom if Edward IV dies.
· Queen Margaret (Henry VI's widow) shows up and deals out curses to her enemies, the House of York. She hopes: King Edward IV will die of his illness; Prince Edward, Edward IV’s son, will die young; Queen Elizabeth will live long as neither, wife, mother nor Queen; Earl Rivers (Queen Elizabeth’s brother), Marquess of Dorset (Queen Elizabeth’s son by a previous marriage), and Hastings all die unnatural deaths; Richard will be friends with traitors and betrayed by friends; Queen Elizabeth will one day wish for Queen Margaret's help to curse Richard. Margaret spares Buckingham telling him he hasn't wronged her, but he insults her so she curses him too.
· In the Tower of London, two murderers, paid by Richard kill, Clarence by drowning him in a wine barrel.
· Clarence's children, Edward and Margaret Plantagenet, are told that their father is dead.
· Edward IV dies of his illness and Queen Elizabeth laments.
· Dorset and Grey, the Queen’s sons by a previous marriage are imprisoned in Pomfret Castle.
· Hearing of this, Queen Elizabeth, her son Richard Duke of York and the Duchess of York, her mother-in-law, run to safety.
· Prince Edward, son of the dead King Edward IV, arrives in London and gets his brother Richard Duke of York out of hiding to meet him.
· Richard sends his nephews Richard Duke of York and Prince Edward to the Tower of London. He plans to kill the boys and become king.
· Rivers (brother of Queen Elizabeth), and Grey (her son by previous marriage) are executed at Pomfret Castle In a meeting at the Tower, Richard blames Hastings for the treason and has him beheaded.
· Richard starts rumours that Edward IV's children (Richard Duke of York and Prince Edward) are bastards, and furthermore, that Edward IV himself was a bastard, which makes him next in line to the throne as the dead king’s brother. Also, Richard devises a plan to get rid of Clarence's children (Edward and Margaret Plantagenet), just to be on the safe side (they are, after all, the dead King Edward IVth’s niece and nephew).
· The Mayor of London comes to Richard and offers him the throne, which he accepts, becoming King Richard III.
· Queen Elizabeth tells her surviving son Dorset to leave England to see Richmond (later, Henry VII).
· Richard III plans to crown Anne Neville queen, fulfilling Anne's own curse that Richard III's future wife be cursed and miserable.
· Richard III plans to have Clarence's daughter, his own niece Margaret, married off to a poor man to get rid of her.
· Richard also plans to kill his own wife Anne Neville, then marry Edward IV's daughter, his own niece, Elizabeth.
· Richard III pays Tyrrel to kill his nephews Prince Edward and Richard Duke of York since Buckingham is unwilling to do it.
· Richard III remembers a prophesy that Richmond (Henry VI's nephew) would be king one day.
· Richard’s wife Anne and his nephews Prince Edward and Richard Duke of York are killed, Clarence’s daughter Margaret is married off, Clarence's son Edward Plantagenet is killed, and Richard III goes to woo his niece Elizabeth away from Richmond. Richard’s position as King is looking pretty strong!
· However, Ely joins Richmond and Buckingham who raise an army against Richard III.
· Old Queen Margaret (Henry VI's wife) meets the Duchess of York (Richard III’s mother) and Queen Elizabeth (Edward IV’s widow) and tells them to curse Richard III, and they do.
· All of Richard III's victims come to him in a dream to haunt and torment him. All say, "Despair and die" to Richard III, causing him to go insane. The same ghosts also visit Richmond and wish him luck.
· The two armies meet in battle on Bosworth Field, both generals giving orations to their armies before battle. Richard III fights valiantly. Richmond kills Richard III and Stanley crowns Richmond Henry VII. Henry VII, a Lancaster, marries Edward IV's daughter Elizabeth, a York, ending the War of the Roses by uniting the houses of York and Lancaster.


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