Richard III

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Richard, Duke of Gloucester, alone


Now is the winter of our discontent

Made glorious summer by this sun of York,

And all the clouds that loured upon our house
lour, lower (v.) frown, scowl, look dark and threatening

In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
bosom (n.) 7 depths

Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths,
brow (n.) 4 forehead [often plural, referring to the two prominences of the forehead]

Our bruised arms hung up for monuments,
monument (n.) 1 memory, memorial, remembrance

Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
alarm, alarum, 'larm, 'larum (n.) 1 call to arms, call to battle, signal to begin fighting See Topics: Stage directions

Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
dreadful (adj.) 1 inspiring dread, causing fear, daunting
measure (n.) 8 slow stately dance, graceful movement

Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrinkled front,
front (n.) 1 forehead, face
grim-visaged (adj.) with a stern face
wrinkled (adj.) frowning, furrowed

And now, instead of mounting barbed steeds
barbed (adj.) armoured with barbs, protectively covered

To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
fearful (adj.) 2 causing fear, awe-inspiring, terrifying, alarming
fright (v.), past form frighted frighten, scare, terrify See Topics: Frequency count

He capers nimbly in a lady's chamber

To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.

But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks
sportive (adj.) 1 amorous, wanton, sexual

Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;

I, that am rudely stamped, and want love's majesty
rudely (adv.) 3 roughly, clumsily, imperfectly
stamped (adj.) marked [as with a stamp], imprinted
want (v.) 1 lack, need, be without See Topics: Frequency count

To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
ambling (adj.) walking in an affected way, pretentiously strolling
nymph (n.) beauty, damsel, siren
wanton (adj.) 6 lascivious, lewd, obscene

I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
curtail (v.) cut short, diminish
proportion (n.) 7 bodily shape, physical form

Cheated of feature by dissembling Nature,
dissembling (adj.) deceitful, hypocritical, false
feature (n.) physical appearance, bodily shape, looks
nature (n.) 6 natural order, ungoverned state, way of the world [often personified]

Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time

Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
breathing (adj.) 2 living, active, lively
made up, made-up (adj.) 2 finished off, put together
scarce (adv.) 1 scarcely, hardly, barely, only just

And that so lamely and unfashionable
lamely (adv.) imperfectly, defectively; also, haltingly, in a lame manner

That dogs bark at me as I halt by them –
halt (v.) limp, proceed lamely

Why I, in this weak piping time of peace,
piping (adj.) shrill-toned, high-pitched [either: of pipes; or: of women and children's voices]

Have no delight to pass away the time,

Unless to spy my shadow in the sun

And descant on mine own deformity.
descant (v.) 1 develop a theme about, comment, make remarks

And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover

To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
entertain (v.) 13 while away, pass away
well-spoken (adj.) refined, courteous, eloquent

I am determined to prove a villain
determine (v.) 2 resolve, decide, settle [on]

And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
idle (adj.) 6 frivolous, capricious, wanton

Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
induction (n.) opening scene [of a play], initial step, preparation

By drunken prophecies, libels, and dreams,
libel (n.) 2 defamatory poster, slanderous leaflet

To set my brother Clarence and the King

In deadly hate the one against the other;

And if King Edward be as true and just
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious See Topics: Frequency count

As I am subtle, false, and treacherous,

This day should Clarence closely be mewed up
closely (adv.) 2 in strict confinement, securely
mew up (v.) coop up, confine, shut up

About a prophecy which says that G

Of Edward's heirs the murderer shall be.

Dive, thoughts, down to my soul – here Clarence comes!

Enter Clarence, guarded, and Brakenbury, Lieutenant

of the Tower

Brother, good day. What means this armed guard

That waits upon your grace?
wait on / upon (v.) 1 accompany, attend


                         His majesty,

Tendering my person's safety, hath appointed
tender (v.) 2 feel concern for, hold dear, care for

This conduct to convey me to the Tower.
conduct (n.) 5 escort, attendant, guide


Upon what cause?


                         Because my name is George.


Alack, my lord, that fault is none of yours,

He should for that commit your godfathers.

O, belike his majesty hath some intent
belike (adv.) probably, presumably, perhaps, so it seems See Topics: Frequency count
intent (n.) intention, purpose, aim See Topics: Frequency count

That you shall be new-christened in the Tower.

But what's the matter, Clarence, may I know?


Yea, Richard, when I know; for I protest

As yet I do not. But, as I can learn,

He hearkens after prophecies and dreams,

And from the cross-row plucks the letter G,
cross-row (n.) alphabet

And says a wizard told him that by G

His issue disinherited should be.
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant See Topics: Frequency count

And, for my name of George begins with G,

It follows in his thought that I am he.

These, as I learn, and such-like toys as these
toy (n.) 2 fancy, fantastic thought

Have moved his highness to commit me now.


Why this it is when men are ruled by women;

'Tis not the King that sends you to the Tower.

My Lady Grey his wife, Clarence, 'tis she

That tempers him to this extremity.
temper (v.) 2 mould, shape, work, bring [to a particular character]

Was it not she, and that good man of worship,
worship (n.) 2 honour, distinction, repute

Anthony Woodville, her brother there,

That made him send Lord Hastings to the Tower,

From whence this present day he is delivered?

We are not safe, Clarence, we are not safe.


By heaven, I think there is no man secure

But the Queen's kindred, and night-walking heralds
herald (n.) messenger, carrier, emissary
night-walking (adj.) secret, going about by night

That trudge betwixt the King and Mistress Shore.

Heard you not what an humble suppliant

Lord Hastings was for his delivery?


Humbly complaining to her deity

Got my Lord Chamberlain his liberty.

I'll tell you what, I think it is our way,
way (n.) 6 best path, course of action

If we will keep in favour with the King,

To be her men and wear her livery.
livery (n.) 1 uniform, costume, special clothing See Topics: Frequency count
man (n.) 4 servant, attendant, lackey

The jealous o'erworn widow and herself,
jealous (adj.) 1 suspicious, mistrustful, wary, watchful
overworn (adj.) 1 faded, worn out, worse for wear

Since that our brother dubbed them gentlewomen,
dub (v.) invest with the status of, style

Are mighty gossips in this monarchy.
gossip (n.) 3 tattler, chatterer, idle talker


I beseech your graces both to pardon me.

His majesty hath straitly given in charge
give in charge give orders, command, direct
straitly (adv.) strictly, firmly, stringently

That no man shall have private conference,

Of what degree soever, with his brother.


Even so? An't please your worship, Brakenbury,

You may partake of anything we say.

We speak no treason, man; we say the King

Is wise and virtuous, and his noble Queen

Well struck in years, fair, and not jealous;
struck (adj.) 1 marked, provided, beset

We say that Shore's wife hath a pretty foot,

A cherry lip, a bonny eye, a passing pleasing tongue;

And that the Queen's kindred are made gentlefolks.

How say you sir? Can you deny all this?


With this, my lord, myself have naught to do.


Naught to do with Mistress Shore? I tell thee, fellow,

He that doth naught with her, excepting one,
naught, nought (n.) 2 wickedness, immorality, sinfulness

Were best he do it secretly, alone.


What one, my lord?


Her husband, knave. Wouldst thou betray me?
knave (n.) 2 servant, menial, lackey


I beseech your grace to pardon me, and withal

Forbear your conference with the noble Duke.
forbear (v.) 1 stop, cease, desist See Topics: Frequency count


We know thy charge, Brakenbury, and will obey.
charge (n.) 4 commission, responsibility, official duty


We are the Queen's abjects, and must obey.
abject (n.) servile subject, low-placed reject

Brother, farewell. I will unto the King;

And whatsoe'er you will employ me in,

Were it to call King Edward's widow sister,

I will perform it to enfranchise you.
enfranchise (v.) set free, liberate

Meantime, this deep disgrace in brotherhood

Touches me deeper than you can imagine.
touch (v.) 8 wound, hurt, injure


I know it pleaseth neither of us well.


Well, your imprisonment shall not be long:

I will deliver you, or else lie for you.
deliver (v.) 3 free, release, liberate
lie (v.) 2 lie in prison, take the place [of]

Meantime, have patience.


                         I must perforce. Farewell.

Exeunt Clarence with Brakenbury and guard
perforce (adv.) 2 of necessity, with no choice in the matter See Topics: Frequency count


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,

If heaven will take the present at our hands.

But who comes here? The new-delivered Hastings?
new-delivered (adj.) lately freed, freshly released

Enter Lord Hastings


Good time of day unto my gracious lord.


As much unto my good Lord Chamberlain.

Well are you welcome to the open air.

How hath your lordship brooked imprisonment?
brook (v.) 1 endure, tolerate, put up with


With patience, noble lord, as prisoners must;

But I shall live, my lord, to give them thanks

That were the cause of my imprisonment.


No doubt, no doubt; and so shall Clarence too,

For they that were your enemies are his,

And have prevailed as much on him as you.


More pity that the eagles should be mewed,
mew (v.) coop up, confine, shut up

While kites and buzzards prey at liberty.


What news abroad?


No news so bad abroad as this at home:

The King is sickly, weak, and melancholy,

And his physicians fear him mightily.


Now, by Saint John, that news is bad indeed!

O, he hath kept an evil diet long
diet (n.) 4 way of living, course of life

And over-much consumed his royal person.

'Tis very grievous to be thought upon.

Where is he? In his bed?


He is.


Go you before, and I will follow you.
before (adv.) 1 ahead, in advance

Exit Hastings

He cannot live, I hope, and must not die

Till George be packed with post-horse up to heaven.
post-horse (n.) 2 pony-express, express speed

I'll in, to urge his hatred more to Clarence

With lies well steeled with weighty arguments;

And, if I fail not in my deep intent,
intent (n.) intention, purpose, aim See Topics: Frequency count

Clarence hath not another day to live;

Which done, God take King Edward to His mercy

And leave the world for me to bustle in!

For then I'll marry Warwick's youngest daughter.

What though I killed her husband and her father?

The readiest way to make the wench amends
wench (n.) girl, lass See Topics: Frequency count

Is to become her husband and her father,

The which will I – not all so much for love

As for another secret close intent
close (adj.) 1 secret, concealed, hidden
intent (n.) intention, purpose, aim See Topics: Frequency count

By marrying her which I must reach unto.

But yet I run before my horse to market:

Clarence still breathes; Edward still lives and reigns;

When they are gone, then must I count my gains.


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