Richard III: Novel Summary: Act 2 Scene 2

Act 2, scene 2The Duchess of York, the mother of Edward, Clarence, and Richard, mourns the death of Clarence. She talks to Clarence’s two young children, Edward and Margaret. The boy tells his grandmother that Richard told him the king was to blame for Clarence’s death, but the duchess knows better. She knows that Richard is full of deceit. Queen Elizabeth enters, with Rivers and Dorset. The Queen announces that the King is dead. Both women mourn their loss. Dorset and Rivers try to comfort the Queen. Rivers advises her to send for Prince Edward, the Prince of Wales, immediately and have him crowned king.Richard, Buckingham, Stanley, Hastings, and Ratcliffe enter. Richard offers his comfort to both women but offers a cynical aside. Buckingham is anxious to preserve the recently established unity between the quarreling factions. He advises that the prince should be brought from Ludlow to London accompanied only by a very small escort, because too big an entourage might antagonize those elements that are still opposed to the Yorkist supremacy. Richard and Rivers agree to this plan. When Buckingham and Richard are left alone, they plot to separate the prince from the Queen and her family.
AnalysisThe death of the King is obviously good news for Richard, who is prepared to make an ally of Buckingham to achieve his goal. Shakespeare, as he does throughout the play, spurns no opportunity to blacken Richard’s character, as here when the grandson of the duchess unwittingly reveals Richard’s hypocrisy and lies. Richard, the boy reports, told him it was the king who was responsible for imprisoning Clarence, the boy’s father, and offered the boy every sympathy: “he wept, / And pitied me, and kindly kissed my cheek; / Bade me rely on him as on my father, / And he would love me dearly as a child.” Even Richard’s mother knows this is just a pretense and that her own son is full of lies and malice.