Some of Shakespeare’s best and most recognisable lines are found in his monologues. Here we look at the most well known Richard III monologues along with the speaker, act and scene in the order they appear in the play. This page has only Richard III monologues; you can find the top Richard III soliloquies here. Not sure the difference between the two? Read this article.
Spoken by Richard (Act 1, Scene 2)
Those eyes of thine from mine have drawn salt tears,
Shamed their aspect with store of childish drops:
These eyes that never shed remorseful tear,
No, when my father York and Edward wept,
To hear the piteous moan that Rutland made
When black-faced Clifford shook his sword at him;
Nor when thy warlike father, like a child,
Told the sad story of my father’s death,
And twenty times made pause to sob and weep,
That all the standers-by had wet their cheeks
Like trees bedash’d with rain: in that sad time
My manly eyes did scorn an humble tear;
And what these sorrows could not thence exhale,
Thy beauty hath, and made them blind with weeping.
I never sued to friend nor enemy;
My tongue could never learn sweet smoothing word;
But now thy beauty is proposed my fee,
My proud heart sues, and prompts my tongue to speak.
Spoken by Lady Anne (Act 1, Scene 2)
What, do you tremble? Are you all afraid?
Alas, I blame you not; for you are mortal,
And mortal eyes cannot endure the devil.
Avaunt, thou dreadful minister of hell!
Thou hadst but power over his mortal body:
His soul thou canst not have; therefore begone…
Foul devil, for God’s sake, hence, and trouble us not;
For thou hast made the happy earth thy hell,
Fill’d it with cursing cries and deep exclaims.
If thou delight to view thy heinous deeds,
Behold this pattern of thy butcheries.
O gentlemen! See, see dead Henry’s wounds
Open their congeal’d mouths and bleed afresh.
Blush, Blush, thou lump of foul deformity,
For ’tis thy presence that exhales this blood
From cold and empty veins where no blood dwells:
Thy deed, inhuman and unnatural
Provokes this deluge most unnatural.
O God! Which this blood mad’st, revenge his death;
O earth! Which this blood drink’st, revenge his death;
Either heav’n with lightning strike the murderer dead,
Or earth gape open wide and eat him quick,
As thou dost swallow up this good King’s blood
Which his hell-govern’d arm hath butchered.
Spoken by Lady Anne (Act 1, Scene 2)
Set down, set down your honourable load,
If honour may be shrouded in a hearse,
Whilst I awhile obsequiously lament
The untimely fall of virtuous Lancaster.
Poor key-cold figure of a holy king!
Pale ashes of the house of Lancaster!
Thou bloodless remnant of that royal blood!
Be it lawful that I invocate thy ghost,
To hear the lamentations of Poor Anne,
Wife to thy Edward, to thy slaughter’d son,
Stabb’d by the selfsame hand that made these wounds!
Lo, in these windows that let forth thy life,
I pour the helpless balm of my poor eyes.
Cursed be the hand that made these fatal holes!
Cursed be the heart that had the heart to do it!
Cursed the blood that let this blood from hence!
More direful hap betide that hated wretch,
That makes us wretched by the death of thee,
Than I can wish to adders, spiders, toads,
Or any creeping venom’d thing that lives!
If ever he have child, abortive be it,
Prodigious, and untimely brought to light,
Whose ugly and unnatural aspect
May fright the hopeful mother at the view;
And that be heir to his unhappiness!
If ever he have wife, let her he made
A miserable by the death of him
As I am made by my poor lord and thee!
Come, now towards Chertsey with your holy load,
Taken from Paul’s to be interred there;
And still, as you are weary of the weight,
Rest you, whiles I lament King Henry’s corse.
Spoken by Duke of Clarence (Act 1, Scene 4)
O, I have pass’d a miserable night,
So full of ugly sights, of ghastly dreams,
That, as I am a Christian faithful man,
I would not spend another such a night
Though ’twere to buy a world of happy days,
So full of dismal terror was the time!
Methoughts that I had broken from the Tower,
And was embark’d to cross to Burgundy;
And in my company my brother Gloucester,
Who from my cabin tempted me to walk
Upon the hatches: thence we look’d toward England,
And cited up a thousand fearful times,
During the wars of York and Lancaster,
That had befall’n us. As we paced along
Upon the giddy footing of the hatches,
Methought that Gloucester stumbled, and in falling,
Struck me (that thought to stay him) overboard,
Into the tumbling billows of the main.
O Lord! Methought, what pain it was to drown:
What dreadful noise of waters in mine ears;
What ugly sights of death within mine eyes!
Methought I saw a thousand fearful wrecks;
Ten thousand men that fishes gnaw’d upon;
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
Inestimable stones, unvalu’d jewels,
All scatter’d in the bottom of the sea.
Some lay in dead men’s skulls; and, in those holes
Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept –
As ’twere in scorn of eyes – reflecting gems,
Which woo’d the slimy bottom of the deep,
And mock’d the dead bones that lay scatter’d by.
Spoken by Richard (Act 2, Scene 1)
A blessed labour, my most sovereign liege:
Amongst this princely heap, if any here,
By false intelligence, or wrong surmise,
Hold me a foe;
If I unwittingly, or in my rage,
Have aught committed that is hardly borne
By any in this presence, I desire
To reconcile me to his friendly peace:
‘Tis death to me to be at enmity;
I hate it, and desire all good men’s love.
First, madam, I entreat true peace of you,
Which I will purchase with my duteous service;
Of you, my noble cousin Buckingham,
If ever any grudge were lodged between us;
Of you, Lord Rivers, and, Lord Grey, of you;
That without desert have frown’d on me;
Dukes, earls, lords, gentlemen; indeed, of all.
I do not know that Englishman alive
With whom my soul is any jot at odds
More than the infant that is born to-night
I thank my God for my humility.
Spoken by King Edward IV (Act 2, Scene 1)
Have I a tongue to doom my brother’s death,
And shall the tongue give pardon to a slave?
My brother slew no man; his fault was thought,
And yet his punishment was cruel death.
Who sued to me for him? who, in my rage,
Kneel’d at my feet, and bade me be advised
Who spake of brotherhood? who spake of love?
Who told me how the poor soul did forsake
The mighty Warwick, and did fight for me?
Who told me, in the field by Tewksbury
When Oxford had me down, he rescued me,
And said, ‘Dear brother, live, and be a king’?
Who told me, when we both lay in the field
Frozen almost to death, how he did lap me
Even in his own garments, and gave himself,
All thin and naked, to the numb cold night?
All this from my remembrance brutish wrath
Sinfully pluck’d, and not a man of you
Had so much grace to put it in my mind.
But when your carters or your waiting-vassals
Have done a drunken slaughter, and defaced
The precious image of our dear Redeemer,
You straight are on your knees for pardon, pardon;
And I unjustly too, must grant it you
But for my brother not a man would speak,
Nor I, ungracious, speak unto myself
For him, poor soul. The proudest of you all
Have been beholding to him in his life;
Yet none of you would once plead for his life.
O God, I fear thy justice will take hold
On me, and you, and mine, and yours for this!
Come, Hastings, help me to my closet.
Oh, poor Clarence!
Spoken by Richard (Act 3, Scene 7)
I cannot tell, if to depart in silence,
Or bitterly to speak in your reproof.
Best fitteth my degree or your condition
If not to answer, you might haply think
Tongue-tied ambition, not replying, yielded
To bear the golden yoke of sovereignty,
Which fondly you would here impose on me;
If to reprove you for this suit of yours,
So season’d with your faithful love to me.
Then, on the other side, I cheque’d my friends.
Therefore, to speak, and to avoid the first,
And then, in speaking, not to incur the last,
Definitively thus I answer you.
Your love deserves my thanks; but my desert
Unmeritable shuns your high request.
First if all obstacles were cut away,
And that my path were even to the crown,
As my ripe revenue and due by birth
Yet so much is my poverty of spirit,
So mighty and so many my defects,
As I had rather hide me from my greatness,
Being a bark to brook no mighty sea,
Than in my greatness covet to be hid,
And in the vapour of my glory smother’d.
But, God be thank’d, there’s no need of me,
And much I need to help you, if need were;
The royal tree hath left us royal fruit,
Which, mellow’d by the stealing hours of time,
Will well become the seat of majesty,
And make, no doubt, us happy by his reign.
On him I lay what you would lay on me,
The right and fortune of his happy stars;
Which God defend that I should wring from him!
Spoken by Queen Margaret (Act 4, Scene 4)
Bear with me; I am hungry for revenge,
And now I cloy me with beholding it.
Thy Edward he is dead, that stabb’d my Edward:
Thy other Edward dead, to quit my Edward;
Young York he is but boot, because both they
Match not the high perfection of my loss:
Thy Clarence he is dead that kill’d my Edward;
And the beholders of this tragic play,
The adulterate Hastings, Rivers, Vaughan, Grey,
Untimely smother’d in their dusky graves.
Richard yet lives, hell’s black intelligencer,
Only reserved their factor, to buy souls
And send them thither: but at hand, at hand,
Ensues his piteous and unpitied end:
Earth gapes, hell burns, fiends roar, saints pray.
To have him suddenly convey’d away.
Cancel his bond of life, dear God, I prey,
That I may live to say, The dog is dead!
Spoken by Richard (Act 4, Scene 4)
Look, what is done cannot be now amended:
Men shall deal unadvisedly sometimes,
Which after hours give leisure to repent.
If I did take the kingdom from your sons,
To make amends, Ill give it to your daughter.
If I have kill’d the issue of your womb,
To quicken your increase, I will beget
Mine issue of your blood upon your daughter
A grandam’s name is little less in love
Than is the doting title of a mother;
They are as children but one step below,
Even of your mettle, of your very blood;
Of an one pain, save for a night of groans
Endured of her, for whom you bid like sorrow.
Your children were vexation to your youth,
But mine shall be a comfort to your age.
The loss you have is but a son being king,
And by that loss your daughter is made queen.
I cannot make you what amends I would,
Therefore accept such kindness as I can.
Dorset your son, that with a fearful soul
Leads discontented steps in foreign soil,
This fair alliance quickly shall call home
To high promotions and great dignity:
The king, that calls your beauteous daughter wife.
Familiarly shall call thy Dorset brother;
Again shall you be mother to a king,
And all the ruins of distressful times
Repair’d with double riches of content.
What! we have many goodly days to see:
The liquid drops of tears that you have shed
Shall come again, transform’d to orient pearl,
Advantaging their loan with interest
Of ten times double gain of happiness.
Go, then my mother, to thy daughter go
Make bold her bashful years with your experience;
Prepare her ears to hear a wooer’s tale
Put in her tender heart the aspiring flame
Of golden sovereignty; acquaint the princess
With the sweet silent hours of marriage joys
And when this arm of mine hath chastised
The petty rebel, dull-brain’d Buckingham,
Bound with triumphant garlands will I come
And lead thy daughter to a conqueror’s bed;
To whom I will retail my conquest won,
And she shall be sole victress, Caesar’s Caesar.
Spoken by Richmond (Act 5, Scene 3)
More than I have said, loving countrymen,
The leisure and enforcement of the time
Forbids to dwell upon: yet remember this,
God and our good cause fight upon our side;
The prayers of holy saints and wronged souls,
Like high-rear’d bulwarks, stand before our faces;
Richard except, those whom we fight against
Had rather have us win than him they follow:
For what is he they follow? truly, gentlemen,
A bloody tyrant and a homicide;
One raised in blood, and one in blood establish’d;
One that made means to come by what he hath,
And slaughter’d those that were the means to help him;
Abase foul stone, made precious by the foil
Of England’s chair, where he is falsely set;
One that hath ever been God’s enemy:
Then, if you fight against God’s enemy,
God will in justice ward you as his soldiers;
If you do sweat to put a tyrant down,
You sleep in peace, the tyrant being slain;
If you do fight against your country’s foes,
Your country’s fat shall pay your pains the hire;
If you do fight in safeguard of your wives,
Your wives shall welcome home the conquerors;
If you do free your children from the sword,
Your children’s children quit it in your age.
Then, in the name of God and all these rights,
Advance your standards, draw your willing swords.
For me, the ransom of my bold attempt
Shall be this cold corpse on the earth’s cold face;
But if I thrive, the gain of my attempt
The least of you shall share his part thereof.
Sound drums and trumpets boldly and cheerfully;
God and Saint George! Richmond and victory!
What do you think of these Richard III monologues – any we’re missing that should be included? Let us know in the comments below!