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Scene 5.3

Scene 5.3 - Bosworth Field

Richard orders that his tent be set up in Bosworth Field. He wonders at the sad looks of his companions. Richard is confident that he they will defeat the enemy, whom his troops outnumber three times over. He goes out to survey the field.

Richmond enters from the other side of the stage. His soldiers pitch his tent. He interprets the blazing sunset as a hopeful omen. He appoints one noble to carry his standard and asks three to remain with him in his tent to plan their strategy in the coming battle. Stanley's troops lie more than a half mile away from those of Richard's army. Richmond sends Stanley a note, inviting Stanley to join forces.

The two tents stand on opposite sides of the stage. In the first tent, Richard sends for ink and paper and asks after his armor. Richard orders Catesby to send an officer to inform Stanley that if he doesn't bring his forces to the field before sunrise, his son will be killed. Richard receives the news that his nobles have gone through the army trying to cheer up his soldiers and prepare them for the battle. Richard attempts to sleep.

Stanley comes to Richmond's tent, telling him that his mother (Stanley's wife) prays for him continually. He plans to attempt to aid Richmond without being seen himself, in the hopes that this ruse will preserve the life of his son. Richmond prays to God, "whose captain I account myself," before falling asleep.

In Richard's tent, ghosts appear to him in succession, cursing him and predicting his downfall. Each ghost then turns to Richmond with blessings. Prince Edward, Henry VI's son, tells Richard that his murder lies heavy on Richard's soul, and Henry VI tells Richard to "despair and die" and Richmond to "live and flourish." They are followed by the ghosts of Clarence, Rivers, Grey, Vaughan, the princes in the Tower, Hastings, Anne, and Buckingham. Awakening with a start, Richard calls frantically for a horse and a doctor before he realizes he has been dreaming. He is terrified, although he knows that there is no one to be afraid of except himself. "Is there a murtherer here? No. Yes, I am." He realizes that as a murderer, he is his greatest enemy; yet he cannot flee from himself. For a time, he speaks with two voices as his conscience rejects his baser self. As he remembers being visited by the ghosts of his victims, he realizes that his sins have weakened him beyond repair.

Ratcliffe arrives to dress him for battle. Richard admits to Ratcliffe that "shadows" have frightened him during the night. The two will eavesdrop on their supporters to make sure that none plan to defect.

Richmond's supporters find him refreshed from a good night of sleep and pleasant dreams in which the ghosts of Richard's victims blessed him and prophesied his victory. As it is now 4 o'clock in the morning, he delivers an oration to inspire his soldiers to fight, declaring that they are in the right and therefore "God and our good cause fight upon our side." He reminds them that whether they fight against tyranny, or to protect their wives, children, or country, they have good reasons. He promises that they will not be asked to pay a ransom for him if he is taken by the enemy.

Richard hears reports from the spies he has sent among his nobles. He notes that the sun is not shining today, but argues that this could be a poor omen for his enemy as well as himself, since "the selfsame heaven / That frowns on me looks sadly upon him." He calls for Stanley and rapidly gives directions for the battle. His oration to his army urges them to fight against the predominantly Welsh rebels as "vagabonds, rascals, and runaways, / A scum of Britains and base lackey peasants" who are not their equals. Receiving word that Stanley declines to come to the field, Richard gives orders for his son's death, which Norfolk persuades him to delay.

Browse all book notes

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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