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Scene 4.1

Scene 4.1 - Before the Tower

As yet ignorant of the events at Baynard Castle, Elizabeth, her son Dorset, and the duchess encounter Lady Anne, Richard's wife, leading Clarence's young daughter by the hand. They are all on their way to the Tower to visit and congratulate the princes. Brakenbury, the lieutenant for the Tower, enters with an order from Richard that neither the princes' mother nor their grandmother and aunt are to be allowed to see them. To Elizabeth's terror, he accidentally calls Richard the "king." Stanley enters to summon Anne to Westminster where she will be crowned queen. Elizabeth calls for someone to loosen the bodice of her gown so she can breathe. Anne is no less upset to hear the news. When Dorset is concerned about his mother, the queen tells him not to speak to her, for "thy mother's name is ominous to children." She orders him to escape to France and seek refuge with the earl of Richmond, lest Margaret's curse come true that Elizabeth should outlive all of her children. Stanley agrees that Elizabeth's advice is prudent and promises that his step-son (Richmond) will meet Dorset halfway on his journey. The duchess laments that her own womb has brought forth death instead of life, for her surviving son is a man so deadly that even his eyes (like those of the mythical cockatrice) can kill. Anne unwillingly consents to go with Stanley, declaring that she is so far from rejoicing in her coronation as to wish that the crown, like a circle of red-hot steel, would sear her head and kill her. She would rather be anointed with venom than with oil so that she can die before anyone pronounces, "God save the queen!" Anne remembers that when Richard courted her over King Henry's corpse she cursed his bed and the woman he would someday marry. Both curses have now become true, for Richard cannot sleep without terrible nightmares and Anne believes that he intends to kill her out of hatred for her father, Warwick, who turned against the Yorkists during the civil wars. As the duchess takes leave of Dorset to France, Anne to Richard, and Elizabeth to sanctuary, she predicts that she will shortly be in her grave. Before departing, Elizabeth commands them to look back with her at the Tower and asks the "ancient stones" of the fortress to take pity on her small children who have been locked up on account of others' envy. Speaking in paradoxes, she calls the Tower a "rough cradle," "rude ragged nurse," and "old sullen playfellow" for her children and hopes that the fortress will take care of them.

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Scene 1.1
Scene 1.2
Scene 1.3
Scene 1.4
Scene 2.1
Scene 2.2
Scenes 2.3 and 2.4
Scene 3.1
Scene 3.2
Scenes 3.3 and 3.4
Scene 3.5
Scene 3.6 and 3.7
Scene 4.1
Scenes 4.2 and 4.3
Scenes 4.4 and 4.5
Scenes 5.1 and 5.2
Scene 5.3
Scenes 5.4 and 5.5


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