Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,In Which Richard, Duke of Gloucester, decides to become king by Being Extremely Evil. It works pretty well until it doesn't.With the possible exception of The Taming of the Shrew, this is the earliest-written of William Shakespeare's plays to still be commonly performed today.The play opens as Edward IV lies dying. Hoping to prevent the generation of dynastic warfare that ended with his (second) ascension to the throne from starting up again, Edward calls together all of England's powerful factions and makes them shake hands and promise to be nice to each other and his young son once he croaks.They all do, and everyone lives happily ever after.Yeah, okay, not so much.With the aid of the Duke of Buckingham, and to the great delight of Lord Hastings and the rest of nobility, upon Edward IV's death his younger brother, Richard, after taking a brief detour to successfully woo the widow of a man he killed, quickly has several of the Queen's relatives arrested and executed and sends the young princes off to the Tower of London.Lord Hastings, under the impression that Richard was just going to chop the heads off of the Queen's relatives and leave it at that, is dismayed to find that Richard plans to have Edward's children declared illegitimate and to take the throne himself and refuses to go along.And so, with the aid of Buckingham, Richard has Hastings' head chopped off too.From there, Richard decides that the kids will be trouble as long as they're alive, and he might as well have them whacked too as long as he's got the ax out, but by this point even Buckingham begins to get squeamish and, not having noticed the pattern, leads a failed rebellion and gets his head chopped off. (For those keeping score at home, add the princes to the body count at this point as well.)Once Richard murders his wife so that he might marry his niece, the remaining non-villainous members of the cast finally DO manage to notice the pattern and band together under some guy who hasn't even appeared in the play yet, and, with a night before assist from the ghosts of everyone Richard has had killed, successfully kill Richard in battle and install Henry Tudor, the Earl of Richmond, on the throne.Sir Ian McKellen played Richard III in a 1995 film adaptation that was very well received by critics and audience alike.Trivial note: For all of the eighteenth and much of the nineteenth century, any Richard III performed on stage was not Shakespeare's, but a reworking penned by Colley Cibber, which retained only about 800 of the original's 3600 lines, excised several characters (including Clarence and Queen Margaret), and added a large amount of new material.This page is exclusively concerned with the play by Shakespeare. For the historical Richard III, please see Richard of Gloucester.
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity.
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.
Tropes in Richard III include: