Reading Journal

What I'm reading

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Richard III, by William Shakespeare

Every Christmas my cousin Mark and I agree to read a classic by the next Christmas. This year Richard III was was we decided to go for.

Richard III is a story of an ambitious duke who was willing to kill for the throne. I found Richard to be a "fun" evil character because he's witty, plotting, and malicious. The general plot is that Richard had Henry VI killed, and then Richard's brother Edward became king. As soon as Edward died, Richard killed the other claimants to the throne and seized it himself.

First he had to kill his brother Clarence. He mused to himself after meeting up with Clarence.
Go, tread the path that thou shalt ne'er return:
Simple, plain Clarence, I do love thee so,
That I will shortly send thy soul to heaven.

In a bizarre but funny scene, Richard met up with Anne, who was accompanying her father's corpse to his funeral. Richard had killed both her father (Henry VI) and her brother, but now he tried to woo Anne because she would legitimize his rule if he can get the throne.
Anne: Foul devil, for God's sake, hence, and trouble us not,
For thou hast made the happy earth thy hell,
Filled it with cursing cries and deep exclaims.
If thou delight to view thy heinous deeds,
Behold this pattern of thy butcheries.

After about a page of Anne's curses, Richard responded, "Lady, you know no rules of charity, which renders good for bad, blessings for curses." I thought that was pretty funny.

Richard attempted to woo Anne.
Anne: And thou unfit for any place but hell.
Richard: Yes, one place else, if you will hear me name it.
Anne: Some dungeon.
Richard: Your bed-chamber.
Anne: Ill rest betide the chamber where thou liest!
Richard: So will it, madam, till I lie with you.
Anne: I hope so.

Queen Margaret, Henry VI's wife, cursed all the new royals as well as Richard.
Richard: Have done thy charm, thou hateful withered hag!
Queen Margaret: And leave out thee? stay, dog, for thou shalt hear me.
If heaven have any grievous plague in store
Exceeding those that I can wish upon thee,
O, let them keep it till thy sins be ripe,
And then hurl down their indignation
On thee, the troubler of the poor world's peace!

Queen Elizabeth mourned her husband Edward's death, one of the few deaths in the play not caused by Richard.
Why grow the branches when the root is gone?
Why wither not the leaves that want their sap?
If you will live, lament; if die, be brief.

The citizens were afraid of what would happen after Edward died.
Citizen 1: Come, come, we fear the worst; all will be will.
Citizen 3: When clouds are seen, wise men put on their cloaks;
When great leaves fall, then winter is at hand;
When the sun sets, who doth not look for night?
Untimely storms makes men expect a dearth.
All may be well; but, if God sort it so,
'Tis more than we deserve, or I expect.

King Richard had guilty dreams the night before the battle that would kill him. But in the morning he was ready to put aside his guilt and fight for his ambition again.
Let not our babbling dreams affright our souls:
Conscience is but a word that cowards use,
Devised at first to keep the strong in awe:
Our strong arms be our conscience, swords our law.
March on, join bravely, let us to it pell-mell;
If not to heaven, then hand in hand to hell.


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