Richard III: Novel Summary: Act 4 Scene 2

Act 4, scene 2Richard has been crowned king. He confides in Buckingham that his wish is to have the two princes in the Tower killed. Buckingham says he needs time to think about this, which does not please Richard, who decides that he will no longer confide in him about his plans.Richard tells Catesby to start a rumor that Anne, his wife, is sick and may die. He also wants to get Clarence’s daughter married off to some inconsequential man who will present no threat to him. After Catesby exits, Richard says that he wants to marry Edward IV’s daughter, Elizabeth, to give him a firmer grip on the throne.Richard then hires a man named James Tyrrel to kill the two princes.Buckingham reenters. He tries to talk to Richard about the subjectRichard raised earlier, but Richard has his mind on the developing political situation. He is worried about an alliance between Dorset and Richmond. Buckingham wants reassurance that he will receive the earldom of Hereford and the personal property of Edward VII, just as Richard had promised him, but Richard is in no mood to listen. He is worrying about a prophecy made by Henry VI that Richmond would become king, and also a prediction made by a bard in Ireland that Richard would not live long after he saw Richmond. Buckingham broaches the subject again but Richard does not want to be bothered by it.Richard exits, and Buckingham decides to flee to Brecknock before he meets the same fate as Hastings.
AnalysisRichard is utterly immoral and ruthless but also impresses the audience with his cold efficiency as well. He is completely aware of all aspects of the political situation and determined to arrange everything to his own advantage. He may be king but he is certainly not secure while the two princes live, especially Edward, the elder son of Edward IV, whom many would regard as the legitimate heir. If he can get Edward killed, neutralize any possible challenge from a husband to Clarence’s daughter by ensuring that she marries someone of no significance, and then himself marry his brother’s daughter, Elizabeth, he will be set fair. Obviously on his mind, though, is the threat presented by Richmond, who also has a claim to the throne.