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PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource

Henry VI, Part 3 Characters

Richard (Duke of Gloucester), of the Yorkist party, is the Duke of York’s third son. Particularly close to his father, he is the most intelligent and ruthless of the Duke’s sons.

He is a limping hunchback with a withered left arm, though h is also an excellent and murderous fighter, and just how crippled he is physically and how much of it is in his mind is uncertain. His awareness of his own deformities verges on the pathological, and is not helped by the fact that they are the first thing his enemies use to insult him. He is a great mocker with a morbid sense of humor and little sense of morality – he convinces his father to break his oath on the basis of a ridiculous technicality. Tougher than his brothers, he insists on knowing how York died and refuses to weep, preferring to plot revenge. He is particularly enraged at Clifford for the latter’s murder of Richard’s younger brother Rutland, and is determined to kill him himself, though he is unsuccessful in this. He is amused at his brother Edward’s philandering, but becomes worried when the King decides to marry. The prospect of becoming yet further down in the line of succession crystallizes his realization that he wishes to be King himself, something of which there were only hints before. He remains loyal to Edward during Warwick’s rebellion because only with Edward safely on the throne can he himself hope to take it. He arranges for Edward’s escape from captivity and helps him beat the Lancastrian forces, later joining to kill Prince Edward. He also convinces Clarence to give up his allegiance to Warwick and return to his brothers’ side. He then takes it upon himself to murder King Henry, with whom he has a disquieting conversation. Richard sets himself up as a unique sort of person and argues that it is the fault of the fate that left him deformed that bears the responsibility for his twisted mind. Just how far he is willing to go in his quest for the crown can be discovered in Richard III.

 

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