Richard III Study Guide (Choose to Continue)


Richard III : Character

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Total Votes: 5
  1. Sir James Blunt

    Sir James Blunt is a supporter of Richmond.

  2. Sir Robert Brakenbury

    Sir Robert Brakenbury is the lieutenant of the Tower of London. He is killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field.

  3. Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham

    The Duke of Buckingham is a supporter of Richard who willingly goes along with Richard’s plans and his crimes. He expects to be rewarded by being made Earl of Hereford. But Richard becomes suspicious of him when Buckingham fails immediately to support Richard’s plan to murder the princes in the Tower. For his part, Buckingham becomes disillusioned with Richard, when Richard will not confirm that he will make him an earl. Fearing for his life, Buckingham flees and raises an army against Richard, but the army deserts him and Buckingham is captured and then executed.

  4. Cardinal Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury

    Cardinal Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, is ordered by Buckingham to persuade the Queen to bring her young son Richard, Duke of York, to join his brother in London, ostensibly for the coronation but in reality for imprisonment.

  5. Sir William Catesby

    Sir William Catesby is a follower of Richard. He always does Richard’s bidding and goes along with his schemes.

  6. George, Duke of Clarence

    George, Duke of Clarence, is a brother of King Edward IV. He is imprisoned by Edward IV because Richard has managed to convince him that Clarence is a danger to him. Edward IV condemns Clarence to death but is later persuaded by the Queen to reprieve him. However, Richard intervenes and orders that Clarence be murdered in the Tower.

  7. Marquis of Dorset

    The Marquis of Dorset is Queen Elizabeth’s son by her first marriage. As Richard gains the ascendency, Dorset manages to avoid the fate of his brother Grey by fleeing to France to join Richmond.

  8. King Edward IV

    King Edward IV is the reigning king of England when the play begins. He is married to Queen Elizabeth and has two sons. His brothers are George, Duke of Clarence, and Richard, Duke of Gloucester. The King does his best to patch up the quarrels that break out between his wife’s family and other powerful figures, including Hastings and Richard. However, he imprisons his brother Clarence and orders his death, because Richard gets him to believe that Clarence is a threat to his rule. Edward later reprieves Clarence but it is too late to save him. Edward IV dies early in act 2 of the play. In his will, he names Richard as Protector of the country.

  9. Prince Edward, the Prince of Wales

    Prince Edward is the eldest son of King Edward IV and Queen Margaret. He is also the heir to the throne. Following his father’s death, Richard orders that Edward be confined to the Tower of London. He later issues orders that he be murdered. Edward is twelve years old at the time of his death.

  10. Edward

    Edward is Clarence's young son. He is imprisoned by Richard III.

  11. Queen Elizabeth

    Queen Elizabeth is King Edward's wife. Originally Elizabeth Woodville, she is the former Lady Grey, the widow of Sir John Gray, who later married King Edward IV. Elizabeth has two sons by her first marriage, Dorset and Grey, who along with her brother Rivers, are her allies against the king’s family. Elizabeth also has three children by Edward: Edward, Richard, and Elizabeth. The two brothers are murdered in the Tower, which gives Elizabeth good cause to curse Richard, since she knows that he murdered them. When he is king, Richard asks Elizabeth to support his suit for her daughter, Elizabeth, and she agrees to do it, with great reluctance.

  12. John Morton, Bishop of Ely

    Morton, the Bishop of Ely, joins Richmond’s side.

  13. Lord Grey

    Lord Grey is Queen Elizabeth’s son by her first marriage. After Edward IV dies, Grey is part of the escort for Prince Edward, who is being taken to London to be crowned king. But Richard has him arrested, along with Rivers and Vaughan. Grey is then executed at Pomfret Castle.

  14. William, Lord Hastings

    Lord Hasting is the Lord Chamberlain. He is a supporter of King Edward IV but an enemy of the Queen, who has him imprisoned. Early in the play he is freed. Hastings is then reconciled to the Queen’s faction, but he makes a new enemy in Richard when he refuses to support Richard’s bid for the crown. Richard has him arrested and executed on trumped up charges of treason.

  15. Sir Walter Herbert

    Sir Walter Herbert is a supporter of Richmond.

  16. Francis, Lord Lovel

    Francis, Lord Lovel is a supporter of Richard.

  17. Queen Margaret  

    Queen Margaret is the widow of King Henry VI. She makes several appearances in the play where she laments her sufferings and curses those who have wronged her. She is against not only Richard but also Richard’s enemies.

  18. Lady Margaret Plantagenet

    Margaret is Clarence's daughter. Richard ensures that she marries a man of no account so that the couple will present no threat to his rule or his claim to the throne.

  19. Lord Mayor of London

    The Lord Mayor of London is a gullible official, easily convinced by Richard of Hastings’s guilt and then fooled into thinking that Richard is a pious man who should be crowned king.

  20. Lady Anne Neville

    Lady Anne Neville, the wife of Richard III. She is the daughter of Warwick (who is killed in battle in Henry VI, part 3) and widow of Edward, Prince of Wales, the son of King Henry VI. (Edward was killed by Richard, also in Henry VI, part 3.) Anne therefore has good reason to hate Richard, since he killed both her husband and her father-in-law, Henry VI, but in spite of that she gives in to his blandishments and becomes his wife. Eventually, Richard disposes of her (the circumstances are never explained) so that he can marry Elizabeth.

  21. Duke of Norfolk

    The Duke of Norfolk is a follower of Richard. He is killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field.

  22. Earl of Oxford

    The Earl of Oxford is a supporter of Richmond who fights at Bosworth.

  23. Sir Richard Ratcliffe

    Sir Richard Ratcliffe is a staunch supporter of Richard. He fights at Bosworth and is killed.

  24. Richard, Duke of York

    Richard is a son of King Edward IV, younger brother to the Prince of Wales. He is murdered along with his brother in the Tower.

  25. Richard III

    Richard, Duke of Gloucester is a brother of King Edward IV, and later becomes King Richard III. Richard has a physical deformity, being hunchbacked. He is also ruthlessly ambitious from the beginning. He wants to seize the crown and plots continually to achieve his goal. He is completely amoral; he makes sure that anyone who gets in his way is killed. His worst crime is to arrange for the murder of the two young princes in the Tower. From Richard’s point of view, their deaths are necessary because they present a threat to the legitimacy of his rule.

    Richard is an efficient and energetic schemer who knows how to exert power. He is excellent at deception; he knows how to charm people and make them think he is benevolent in his intention, at least until his evil purposes are revealed. One person he cannot fool, though, is his mother, who knows his character.By the end of the play she curses him and wishes for his death.

    Richard may be a good actor when it comes to fooling people,but he is also under no illusions about himself; he knows he is a villain and seems to rejoice in the fact. 

  26. Henry, Earl of Richmond

    Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, later King Henry VII. Richmond isthe stepson of Stanley. He is descended from the Lancastrian line. In Henry VI, part 3, he is sent to France for his own protection. During the tyrannous reign of Richard III, Richmond leads an invading army that lands in Wales and marches to the Midlands, where Richmond engages Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Richmond is victorious and is crowned king. He states his intention to unite the two houses of York and Lancaster by his marriage to King Edward IV’s daughter, Elizabeth. Richmond is presented as an agent of divine providence who brings England’s civil wars to an end.

  27. Earl Rivers

    Earl Rivers is the brother of Queen Elizabeth. Naturally enough, he sides with his sister in the disputes with the king’s family. After Edward IV dies, Rivers is part of the escort for Prince Edward, who is being taken to London to be crowned the new king. But Richard has him arrested, along with Grey and Vaughan. Rivers is then executed at Pomfret Castle.

  28. Lord Stanley, Earl of Derby

    Lord Stanley is a friend of Hastings and follows Hastings’ lead (as Catesby tells Richard). Stanley is caught in a difficult position after Richard seizes the crown. Nominally he is a supporter of Richard, but he senses that Richard does not trust him and may move against him.But Hastings will not listen when Stanley suggests they both flee to the north. Richard does indeed doubt Stanley’s loyalty, and insists that as Stanley goes to raise his army he leave his son behind as a hostage. At the root of Stanley’s dilemma is the fact that he is Richmond’s stepfather and therefore sympathetic to Richmond’s cause. During the Battle of Bosworth Field, Stanley manages to avoid committing his forces to either side.

  29. Two Murderers

    The two murderers, doing Richard’s business, kill Clarence in the Tower.

  30. Sir James Tyrrel

    Sir James Tyrrel is told by Richard to kill the two princes in the Tower. He hires two men to do the job for him.

  31. Sir Christopher Urswick

    Sir Christopher Urswick is a priest. Stanley sends him with a message to Richmond in Act 4.

  32. Sir Thomas Vaughan

    Sir Thomas Vaughan is a supporter of the Queen’s side of the family. As such, he is an enemy of Richard. He is part of the escort that accompanies Prince Edward to London, but he is arrested along with Rivers and Grey, and then imprisoned and executed at Pomfret Castle.

  33. Duchess of York

    The Duchess of York is the mother of King Edward IV, Clarence, and Richard. During the course of the play she loses all her sons. She mourns the loss of the first two, but is under no illusions about the character of Richard. She knows he is full of malice and guilty deeds and toward the end of the play she curses him to his face and says she hopes he is killed in the battle.


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