Scene 2.2 - The palace, London
The Duchess of York, the mother of Richard, Clarence, and Edward, weeps before Clarence's two young children. They suspect that their father is dead because she calls them "orphans, wretches, castaways," but she denies the fact at first. Although when they persist she admits that Clarence is dead, she claims that she weeps instead for the king's sickness, for "it were lost sorrow to wail one that's lost." When the children vow to pray that God will revenge their father's death on the king, if the king brought it about, the Duchess replies that the king loves them and they cannot possibly know who killed their father. Yet the boy insists that he can, for his uncle Richard has told him that the king had Clarence arrested at the queen's urging. Richard wept and kissed his nephew, and assured him that "he would love me dearly as a child." The duchess marvels that Richard can hide his vice with such appearance of virtue; she asks herself where he came by his deep deceitfulness, since he did not suck it with the milk from her own breast. She is ashamed to call Richard her son.
Elizabeth arrives in tears, followed by her brother and son. Threatening to kill herself in "black despair," she informs the duchess that Edward has died. She wonders why those who depended on him do not die along with the king, as branches die when their root is taken away or leaves wither when deprived of sap. The duchess claims that she has more cause for sorrow than Elizabeth, because she not only mourns a lost husband, but also the loss of two of their sons, Clarence and Edward, whom she likens to the mirror images of their dead father. These true mirror images of her husband have now been "crack'd in pieces," while her remaining son, Richard, is only a "false glass, / That grieves me when I see my shame in him." Better to be a widow with children, like Elizabeth, than to be a widow whose true children have been likewise taken away. Clarence's son interrupts the queen's weeping to ask her how they can mourn her loss when she did not lament for their lost father, and his daughter adds that since the queen did not pity them as orphans, they will not pity her as a widow. The queen scorns them, declaring that she alone can cry enough tears "to drown the world." Alternating their complaints, but not pitying one another, the children mourn their father, the duchess her sons, and Elizabeth her husband. The duchess observes that her grief subsumes them all. The queen's son counsels her to accept God's will, for the king was merely a blessing which God lent to her for a while, and now claims back as his debt. Rivers reminds her that she must think first of all of her son, for her safety lies chiefly with him. He advises her to send for him and see that he is crowned right away.
Richard enters with several lords. He greets Elizabeth as his "sister" and tells her to take comfort, for lamenting ills does not remedy them. Seeing his mother, he asks for her blessing, which she gives, asking God to put "meekness in thy breast, / Love, charity, obedience, and true duty." Aside, Richard jokes that the ultimate aim of all mothers' blessings is that their son "die a good old man." Buckingham addresses the gathering of mourning nobles, reminding them not to forget in their grief that "though we have spent our harvest of this king, / We are to reap a harvest of his son," whose reign is yet to come. He urges the nobles to honor their vows to remain loyal to one another and recommends that Prince Edward is immediately summoned from Ludlow "with some little train" to be crowned in London. Pressed by Rivers to explain why he believes that the prince needs only a small guard to attend him on his journey, Buckingham explains that a large number of guards might break open the "the new-heal'd wound of malice" among the court factions-perhaps by giving the impression of a standing army. Rivers agrees, and Richard adjourns the company to decide off-stage who should be among the prince's escorts.
Momentarily lagging behind, Buckingham and Richard, who have clearly become allies, discuss their course of action. Buckingham declares that when the prince's escort departs, "let not us two stay at home," and suggests that along the way they hatch plots to divide the prince from his mother's relatives. Richard agrees to obey Buckingham's advice "as a child."
Browse all Studyworld Studynotes|
Scenes 2.3 and 2.4
Scenes 3.3 and 3.4
Scene 3.6 and 3.7
Scenes 4.2 and 4.3
Scenes 4.4 and 4.5
Scenes 5.1 and 5.2
Scenes 5.4 and 5.5