Scene 3.2 - Outside Lord Hasting's house, in London
A messenger from Stanley awakens Hastings at 4 o'clock in the morning by knocking loudly at his door. Stanley sends Hastings news of a frightening dream he has had: in his dream, a boar (a reference to the animal on Richard's coat of arms) tore off Stanley's helmet. Stanley also sends news that Richard is holding two separate meetings today; since he and Hastings have only been invited to one, he fears that they are being plotted against at the other. Stanley intends to flee to the north instead of going to London for the meeting and invites Hastings to join him. Hastings tells the messenger to reassure Stanley that they have nothing to fear from the other meeting because Catesby will be there, and he is a trusted friend of Hastings. Hastings makes fun of Stanley for allowing himself to be frightened by mere dreams. He also reasons that fleeing before Richard acts might be dangerous, since it could make Richard angry and turn him against them. He sends the messenger back to Stanley with the final request that Stanley come to him so that they two can go to the meeting together.
After the messenger departs, Catesby arrives and Hastings asks him for news. Catesby gives his opinion that the "reeling world" will never "stand upright" until Richard has been crowned king. Hastings quickly declares that "I'll have this crown of mine cut from my shoulders, / Before I'll see the crown so foul misplac'd," punning on the double meanings of "crown" as human head and as the symbol of kingship. Catesby informs Hastings that Richard indeed seeks the throne for himself, and sends him news that his enemies, the queen's kinsmen, are being put to death at Pomfret today. Hastings admits that he is happy to hear this, but nonetheless maintains that he will die before he will support Richard's attempt to overthrow Edward's heirs. Catesby prays that Hastings will remain in this virtuous mindset. Hastings gloats over the fact that he has lived to see the execution of Rivers, Gray, and Vaughn, who formerly turned the dead king against him and brought about his imprisonment. He plans to laugh at their "tragedy" for a full year, and also to bring about the downfall of more of his enemies within the next two weeks. Catesby moralizes that death is worst to someone who is not prepared to die-- probably meaning a person who has neither settled his affairs nor asked forgiveness for his sins. Hastings agrees, and gleefully remarks that this will be the case for Rivers, Grey, and Vaughn, as well as other men who are not as "dear" as himself and Catesby to Richard and Buckingham. Catesby deceitfully assures Hastings that they "make a high account of you," which Hastings understands to mean that they think highly of his reputation. Catesby jokes aside that he really means that they intend to chop off his head and fix it high on London Bridge (the usual punishment for traitors).
Stanley arrives and Hastings tauntingly asks him why he has not brought a "boar-spear" since he is so afraid of the boar from his dream. Stanley still worries about the fact that two separate council meetings are being held. Hastings declares that only his conviction that they are safe makes him confident to go to London. Stanley points out that Rivers, Grey, and Vaughn were just as confident of their own safety when they were arrested on their way to London. Learning that these lords are being beheaded today, Stanley gives his opinion that they have as much right to keep their heads as those who accuse them have to wear their hats.
As Hastings, Stanley, and Catesby prepare to depart for the Tower, pursuivant, or official of the church courts, passes by. Having last seen him when he was being taken to prison, Hastings now brags of his enemies' downfall and throws him a bag of money. A priest then passes by, and Hastings compliments him on his last sermon and looks forward to seeing him next Sunday. Buckingham, arriving in time to see Hastings with the priest, jokes that Hastings has less need of a priest today than his enemies do, who require one to hear their last confession before their execution. Buckingham reveals that he is also going to the Tower but will certainly finish his work there before Hastings does. Hastings agrees, for he plans to have dinner (the midday meal) there. Buckingham remarks aside that he will have his supper (presumably his 'last supper') there, too, although he doesn't know it yet. They depart together for the Tower.
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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