When Richard was born, a storm ravaged the trees. Foreshadowing timelessness, the owl screamed and the owl wept, the dogs howled, the crows crowed ominously and the magpies chattered. In the most difficult births there was born a formless ball, from which his own mother recoiled in horror. The baby was a humpback, a crib, with legs of different lengths. But with teeth – to gnaw and torment people, how viciously they will say to him afterwards. He grew up with the brand of a freak, suffering humiliation and ridicule. In his face he was thrown by the words “godly” and “ugly”, and dogs began to bark from his sight. The son of Plantagenet, with older brothers, he was actually deprived of hopes for the throne and doomed to be content with the role of a noble clown. However, he was endowed with mighty will, ambition, political talent and snake cunning. He happened to live in the era of bloody wars, internecine strife, when there was a ruthless struggle for the
throne between the Yorks and Lancaster, and in this element of treachery, betrayal and subtle cruelty, he quickly mastered all the subtleties of court intrigues. With the active participation of Richard, his elder brother Edward became King Edward IV, defeating the Lancaster. To achieve this goal, Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, killed with the brothers of the Companion of Lancaster the noble Warwick, killed the heir to the throne of Prince Edward and then in the Tower personally stabbed the captive King Henry VI, coolly noticing above his corpse: “First you, then another turn. / Let me be low, but my way leads upward.” King Edward, who exclaimed at the end of the previous chronicle: “Gremi, trumpet! Farewell, all adversity! / Happy us waiting for years!” – and did not suspect what diabolical schemes are ripening in the soul of his own brother.
The action begins three months after the coronation of Edward. Richard contemptuously says that the harsh days of the struggle have been replaced by idleness, debauchery and boredom. He calls his “peaceful” age frail, lush and talkative
and declares that he curses lazy fun. The whole power of his nature, he decides to turn to steady progress towards individual power. “I decided to become a scoundrel…” The first steps to this have already been made, With the help of the ills, Richard achieves that the king ceases to trust his brother George, Duke of Clarence, and sends him to prison – as if for his own safety. Having met Clarence, who is taken to the Tower in custody, Richard hypocritically sympathizes with him, and he rejoices at heart. From Lord Chamberlain Hastings, he learns another joyful news for him: the king is sick and doctors are seriously apprehensive for his life. Edward’s craving for pernicious pleasures that exhausted the “royal body” was affected. So, the elimination of both brothers becomes a reality.
Richard, meanwhile, embarks on an almost incredible task: he dreams of marrying Anne Warwick – the daughter of Warwick and the widow of Prince Edward, whom he himself killed. He meets Anna when she in deep mourning accompanies the tomb of King Henry VI, and immediately begins a direct conversation with her. This conversation is striking as an example of the rapid conquest of the female heart by the only weapon – word. At the beginning of the conversation, Anna hates and curses Gloucester, calls him a sorcerer, a scoundrel and an executioner, spits him in the face in response to insinuating speeches. Richard suffers all her insults, calls Anna an angel and a saint and puts forward her only justification: he committed all the murders only out of love for her. Then flattery, then witty evasions, he parries all her reproaches. She says that even animals feel pity. Richard agrees that he does not know pity, – Therefore, he is not an animal. She accuses him of killing a husband who was “gentle, pure and merciful”, Richard notes that in this case it is more proper for him to be in heaven. As a result, he irrefutably proves to Anna that the cause of her husband’s death is her own beauty. Finally, he strips his chest and demands that Anna kill him, if she does not wish to forgive. Anna drops the sword, gradually softens, listens to Richard already without the previous shudder and finally takes from him a ring, thus giving hope to their marriage… if he does not wish to forgive. Anna drops the sword, gradually softens, listens to Richard already without the previous shudder and finally takes from him a ring, thus giving hope to their marriage… if he does not wish to forgive. Anna drops the sword, gradually softens, listens to Richard already without the previous shudder and finally takes from him a ring, thus giving hope to their marriage…
When Anna leaves, the excited Richard can not recover from the ease of victory over her: “How, I, who killed my husband and father, / I took it in an hour of angry rage… / Against me was God, and judgment, and conscience, / And there were no friends to help me. / Only the devil and the pretended appearance… / And yet she is my… Haha! ” And he is once again convinced of his unlimited ability to influence people and to subordinate them to his will.
Further, Richard, without flinching, realizes his plan of killing the prisoner in the Tower of Clarence: he secretly hires two thugs and sends them to prison. The great-grandees of Buckingham, Stanley, Hastings and others, he also suggests that the arrest of Clarence – the machinations of Queen Elizabeth and her relatives, whom he himself is at war with. Only before his death Clarence learns from the murderer that the cause of his death is Gloucester.
Sick King Edward, in anticipation of an imminent death, gathers the courtiers and asks representatives of the two warring camps – the encirclement of the king and the entourage of the queen – to make peace and swear in further tolerance for each other. Peers exchange promises and handshakes. Only Gloucester is missing. But here he appears. Learning of the truce, Richard ardently assures that he hates enmity, that in England he has no more enemies than a newborn baby, that he asks forgiveness from all noble lords, if someone accidentally offended, and so on. Joyful Elizabeth appeals to the king with a request in honor of the solemn day to immediately release Clarence. Richard dryly objects to her: to return Clarence it is impossible, for “everyone knows – the noble duke is dead!”. There comes a minute of general shock. The king is asking, who gave the order for the murder of his brother, but no one can answer him. Edward bitterly laments about what happened and struggles to get to the bedroom. Richard quietly draws Buckingham’s attention, as the native queens paled, hinting that they were the ones responsible.
Without suffering a stroke, the king soon dies. Queen Elizabeth, the King’s mother the Duchess of York, the children of Clarence – they all bitterly mourn two dead. Richard joins them with mournful words of sympathy. Now, according to the law, the throne must be inherited by eleven-year-old Edward, the son of Elizabeth and the late king. Grandees send him to Ledloau behind him.
In this situation, the native queens – the uncle and half-brothers of the heir – pose a threat to Richard. And he gives the order to intercept them on the way to the prince and be taken into custody in the Pamfret Castle. The messenger informs this message to the queen, who begins to rush in mortal fear for the children. The Duchess of York curses the days of trouble, when the victors, having overcome their enemies, immediately engage in battle with each other, “a brother and blood for his brother’s blood…”.
Courtiers meet with the little prince of Wales. He behaves with a touching dignity of a true monarch. He is upset that he does not yet see Elizabeth, his maternal uncle and his eight-year-old brother, York. Richard explains to the boy that his mother’s parents are deceitful and conceal poison in the heart. Gloucester, his guardian, the prince fully trusts and takes his words with a sigh. He asks his uncle where he will live before the coronation. Richard responds that he “would advise” to temporarily live in the Tower, until the prince chooses another pleasant home. The boy shudders, but then obediently agrees with the will of his uncle. Little York comes – mocking and insightful, which annoys Richard with sarcastic jokes. At last both boys are escorted to the Tower.
Richard, Buckingham and their third ally, Catsby, have already secretly agreed to elevate Gloucester to the throne. It is necessary to enlist the support of Lord Hastings. Cetsby is sent to him. Having awakened Hestings in the middle of the night, he reports that their common enemies – the relatives of the queen – will now be executed. This leads the lord to delight. However, the idea of crowning Richard bypassing the little Edward arouses a resentment in Hastings: “… so that I can vote for Richard, / the heir of the direct disinherited, / no, by God I swear, I’ll die soon!” The short-sighted nobleman is confident of his own safety, and yet Richard prepared death for anyone who dares to prevent him on his way to the crown.
In Pamfret, the execution of the queen’s relatives is carried out. And in the Tower at this time, the state council is sitting, obliged to appoint a day of coronation. Richard himself appears on the council late. He already knows that Hastings refused to participate in the conspiracy, and quickly orders him to be taken into custody and chop off his head. He even declares that he will not sit down to dinner until they bring the traitor’s head. In a late epiphany, Hastings curses “bloody Richard” and obediently goes to the scaffold.
After his departure, Richard begins to cry, lamenting because of human infidelity, informs council members that Hastings was the most secretive and crafty traitor, that he was forced to decide on such a steep measure in the interests of England. The deceitful Buckingham readily echoes these words.
Now we have to finally prepare public opinion, what Buckingham is doing again. On the orders of Gloucester, he spreads rumors that the princes are illegitimate children of Edward, that his marriage with Elizabeth is also illegal, provides various other grounds for acceding to the English throne of Richard. The crowd of townspeople remains deaf to these speeches, however the mayor of London and other nobles agree that Richard should be asked to become king.
There comes the highest moment of triumph: a delegation of noble townspeople comes to the tyrant to beg him for the grace to take the crown. This episode was directed by Richard with the devil’s art. He furnishes the case so that petitioners find it not somewhere, but in a monastery where, surrounded by holy fathers, it is deepened into prayers. Learning about the delegation, he does not immediately go to her, but, having appeared in the company of two bishops, plays the part of the simple-minded and far from earthly vanity of a man who fears the “yoke of power” more than anything in the world and dreams only of peace. His hypocritical speeches are admirable in his refined hypocrisy. He persists for a long time, forcing those who came to talk about how kind he is, gentle in his heart and necessary for the happiness of England. When, finally, the desperate to break his reluctance to become king, the townspeople retire, he asks reluctantly to return them. “May your violence be against me / against filthy slander and dishonor,” he cautiously warns.
An obsequious Buckingham hurries to congratulate the new King of England – Richard III.
And after reaching the cherished goal, the blood chain can not be broken. On the contrary, according to the terrible logic of things, Richard needs new sacrifices to consolidate the situation – for he himself realizes how fragile and illegal it is: “My throne is on fragile crystal.” He is released from Anna Warwick, who for a short time was with him in marriage – unhappy and painful. It was not for nothing that Richard himself noticed that he had a feeling of love that was not common to all mortals. Now he orders to lock up his wife and dissolve the rumor of her illness. He himself intends, having exhausted Anna, to marry the daughter of the late King Edward, his brother. But first he must commit another villainy – the most monstrous.
Richard tests Buckingham, reminding him that the little Edward is still alive in the Tower. But even this noble footman becomes cold with a terrible hint. Then the king searches for the greedy court Tirrel, who is instructed to kill both princes. He hires two bloodthirsty stinkers who penetrate Richard’s passage to the Tower and choke sleepy children, and later themselves cry from what they have done.
Richard takes with grim satisfaction the news of the death of the princes. But she does not bring him the desired rest. Under the power of a bloody tyrant, unrest begins in the country. From the side of France, the mighty Richmond, Richard’s rival in the struggle for the right to own the throne, speaks with the fleet. Richard is furious, full of fury and willingness to fight all enemies. Meanwhile, the most reliable of his supporters have either been executed – like Hastings, or fell into disgrace – like Buckingham, or secretly betrayed him – as horrified by his terrible essence Stanley…
The last, fifth act begins with another execution – this time Buckingham. The unfortunate admits that he believed Richard more than anyone else and is now severely punished for this.
Further scenes unfold directly on the battlefield. Here are located opposing regiments – Richmond and Richard, the Leaders spend the night in their tents. They simultaneously fall asleep – and in a dream they are alternately spirits of people executed by the tyrant. Edward, Clarence, Henry VI, Anna Warwick, little princes, native queens, Hastings and Buckingham – each of them before the decisive battle turns to Richard his curse, ending with his same formidable refrain: “Sword drop, otchaysya and die!” And the same spirits of innocently executed executives wish Richmond confidence and victory.
Richmond wakes up, full of strength and vivacity. His rival is awakened in a cold sweat, tormented – it seems, for the first time in his life – by the torments of conscience, in which address bursts into malicious curses. “My conscience has a hundred languages, / all different stories tell /, but each scoundrel calls me…” A perjurer, a tyrant who has lost count of the murders, he is not ready for repentance. He loves and hates himself, but pride, conviction of one’s own superiority over all overpower the other emotions. In the last episodes, Richard shows himself as a warrior, not a coward. At dawn, he goes out to the troops and addresses them with a brilliant, full of evil sarcasm speech. He reminds that it is necessary to fight “with a herd of rogues, fugitives, vagrants, / with Breton bastards and pathetic rot…”. Calls for determination: “Let our spirit not confuse empty dreams: / because conscience is the word created by the coward, / to frighten the strong and guard. / Fist to us – the conscience, / and the law to us – the sword. / Close your courage to the enemy forward / not to heaven, so our close system will go to hell. “For the first time he frankly says that it is necessary to be considered only with force, and not with moral concepts or with the law, and in this higher cynicism he is perhaps the most terrible and at the same time attractive.
The outcome of the battle decides the behavior of Stanley, who at the last moment passes with his regiments on the side of Richmond. In this cruel, bloody battle, the king himself shows the wonders of courage. When a horse is killed under him and Catsby proposes to flee, Richard does not hesitate to refuse. “Slave, I set my life and will stand, until the game ends.” His last remark is full, fighting excitement: “Horse, horse, My crown for the horse!”
In a duel with Richmond, he dies. Richmond becomes the new king of England. With his accession begins the reign of the Tudor dynasty. The war of the White and Scarlet Roses, which has plagued the country for thirty years, is over.