Worksheet based on Act 1 Scene III – Richard III
1. General Understanding
Part 1: True or False and find some evidence:
Lines 1-41 – Factions
a. Elizabeth Woodville seems only to be concerned about her own future if King Edward IV
should die. T/F
b. Elizabeth has a close relationship with her brother-in-law, Richard of Gloucester. T / F
c. Elizabeth and Lord Stanley’s wife do not get along well. T/F
d. Buckingham tells Elizabeth Woodville that the King is feeling better and that he wishes for
her to make peace with Richard. T/F
Q. Using the above answers, write one sentence summing up the relationship between the
members of King Edward’s court. (Hint: which word would best describe it – united or
Q. What do you think Elizabeth Woodville is most worried about?
Part 2: Lines 42 – 109 – Richard’s accusations
e. Richard enters the scene and immediately accuses the Woodvilles of saying bad things
about him to the King. He accuses them of many different things. Match the accusation below
to the correct line from the scene:
People of lower status and rank have That fill his ears with such dissentious rumours
been promoted and given more
Rich lords have lost their power; Our brother is imprisoned by your means
You have been telling the king lies My self disgraced
My own reputation has been spoiled. The nobility / Held in contempt
Clarence has been put in prison great promotions / are daily given to ennoble those /
because of you. That scarce some two days since were worth a noble.
f. What answers does Elizabeth Woodville give to these accusations? Choose from the list
the King does not listen to me anyway - the King wishes to know why you hate my family – I
have defended Clarence and argued that he should be released – You are jealous of the fact
that my friends and family have been promoted – my family have not been promoted at all by
Q. Comment on the way in which Richard enters the scene. What skills does he show here?
Edward IV wants a truce to be called between the two sides – what does the beginning of this
scene suggest about the chances of such a truce?
Part 3: Lines 110- 152
Read the following text and fill in the correct names. Use your family tree if it gets too
In an aside, Margaret accuses Richard of killing her husband, ……………….. and her son,
Richard reminds Elizabeth Woodville that he had fought hard to make her husband king of
Richard also reminds Elizabeth that when she was married to her first husband, …………….,
they had fought on the opposing side for the House of …………………….
At first, Clarence had fought against his own brother (the king) and fought for his father-in-
law, …………………………….. However, he later switched sides and joined his brother.
Now place the following people in the right columns:
Fought for the House of Fought for the House of York Fought on both
- The Woodvilles - King Edward IV - Henry VI - Margaret d’Anjou - Edward (Margaret’s
son) – Richard Gloucester – Clarence – Richard Neville (also known as the Kingmaker)
Q. Why do you think Richard reminds the people present of their changing loyalties?
Part 4: Lines 153-239
Margaret claims that three things have been taken from her: her husband Henry VI, her son
Edward, Prince of Wales and her own status as Queen of England.
Richard replies that Margaret is responsible for killing his brother, Edmund the ―pretty
Rutland‖ at the Battle of Wakefield. His father, the Duke of York was also captured there.
Margaret goes to curse the people present. ―Translate‖ the curses into modern English:
Curse Who is cursed? Translation
―by surfeit die your king‖
―Die in his youth by like
―thyself a queen … / Outlive
―Long mayst thou live to
wail thy children’s death‖
―God I pray him, / That none
of you may live his natural
age / But by some unlooked
accident cut off.‖
―Let them … hurl down their
indignation / On thee‖
―The worm of conscience
still begnaw thy soul‖
―Thy friends suspect for
She will lose her status and live a sad and unhappy life - They will all die and live short lives.
- He will die of overindulgence - He will be troubled by his conscience and start suspecting
everyone around him. - He will die in his youth - She will live to see her children die.
People cursed (you do not have to use all of the answers):
Richard Gloucester – Queen Elizabeth Neville – Rivers, Dorset, Hastings – Buckingham –
King’s son Edward – King Edward IV – Catesby
Part 5: Lines 240- 355
Put the events in the correct order:
She offers friendship to Buckingham and warns him that Richard cannot be trusted.
Catesby tells Queen and her family that the king would like to see them.
Once she has left, Richard claims that he feels sorry for Margaret and he apologises for all the
wrongs he has done to her.
Margaret warns Elizabeth that one day she too will curse Richard.
Alone on the stage, Richard admits that he blames others for his own plots against his brother
She warns Dorset (Elizabeth’s son) that his new status can soon be overturned.
The two murderers enter and Richard tells them to kill Clarence quickly.
Foul wrinkled witch
Thou hateful, withered hag.
Stay, dog, for thou shalt hear me.
Thou elvish-marked, abortive, rooting hog
(disfigured by fairies, earth-eating pig)
The son of hell
Thou slander of thy heavy mother’s womb
That bottled spider
This poisonous bunch-backed toad
b. Illustrating images
EXTRACT ONE EXTRACT FOUR
QUEEN MARGARET QUEEN MARGARET
Poor painted queen, vain flourish of my fortune! I'll not believe but they ascend the sky,
Why strew'st thou sugar on that bottled spider, And there awake God's gentle-sleeping peace.
Whose deadly web ensnareth thee about? O Buckingham, take heed of yonder dog!
Fool, fool! thou whet'st a knife to kill thyself. Look, when he fawns, he bites; and when he
The time will come when thou shalt wish for me bites,
To help thee curse that poisonous bunchback'd His venom tooth will rankle to the death:
toad. Have not to do with him, beware of him;
Sin, death, and hell have set their marks on him,
And all their ministers attend on him.
EXTRACT TWO EXTRACT FIVE
QUEEN MARGARET GLOUCESTER
No sleep close up that deadly eye of thine, The curse my noble father laid on thee,
Unless it be whilst some tormenting dream When thou didst crown his warlike brows with
Affrights thee with a hell of ugly devils! paper
Thou elvish-mark'd, abortive, rooting hog! And with thy scorns drew'st rivers from his eyes,
Thou that wast seal'd in thy nativity And then, to dry them, gavest the duke a clout
The slave of nature and the son of hell! Steep'd in the faultless blood of pretty Rutland--
Thou slander of thy mother's heavy womb! His curses, then from bitterness of soul
Thou loathed issue of thy father's loins! Denounced against thee, are all fall'n upon thee;
Thou rag of honour! thou detested— And God, not we, hath plagued thy bloody deed.
What were you snarling all before I came,
Ready to catch each other by the throat,
And turn you all your hatred now on me?
Did York's dread curse prevail so much with
That Henry's death, my lovely Edward's death,
Their kingdom's loss, my woful banishment,
Could all but answer for that peevish brat?
Can curses pierce the clouds and enter heaven?
Why, then, give way, dull clouds, to my quick
3. Extension Activities
a. Looking at Irony. Fill out the grid below.
Verbal Irony: Saying one thing and meaning another.
Dramatic Irony: What is said contrasts with what happens elsewhere in the play.
Extract Type of Irony Explanation
Richard: ―Because I cannot flatter and Verbal Richard claims that because of his
look fair, / Smile in men’s faces, smooth, physical appearance he is unable to
deceive, and cog‖ Lines 47-48 pretend or act a part to get what he wants,
and yet this is exactly what he is doing.
Elizabeth: ―I would rather be a country
servant maid / Than a great queen with
this condition, / To be so baited, scorned,
and stormèd at.‖ Lines 106-8
Richard: ―If I should be? I had rather be a
pedlar. / far be it from my heart, the
Richard: ―I cannot blame her, by God’s
holy mother, / She hath had too much
wrong, and I repent / My part thereof that
I have done to her.‖
Richard: ―Marry, as for Clarence, he is
well repaid; / He is franked up to fatting
for his pains. / God pardon them that are
the cause thereof.‖
Richard: ―I would to God my heart were
flint, like Edward’s / Or Edward’s too soft
and pitiful like mine. / I am too childish-
foolish for this world.‖
Q. Comment on how the use of irony allows Shakespeare to explore the theme of appearance
b. The Role of Margaret
Many directors cut Margaret from their Women in Shakespeare’s times had little
productions especially Act 1 Scene 3. power. Does Margaret’s appearance here
Imagine you are a stage or film director. substantiate this idea or challenge it?
Argue FOR or AGAINST cutting Margaret
from your production.
How do you imagine Margaret? How many of her curses come true? Read
Richard calls her a witch. through the rest of the play and note down
Is she mad or does she talk sense? which ones come true?
Are he curses signs of witchcraft and of
power or of a woman in emotional need?
Margaret as a Greek Chorus. The role of the Margaret as NEMESIS.
Greek Chorus was to do the following: She calls for revenge and demands justice for
- offer a sense of a rich spectacle past wrong doings.
- give main actors a break on stage
- offer important background and Identify these elements in her speech.
- comment on main themes and actions Ironically, who is the agent of this nemesis?
- guide the audience as to how they
should respond to events
How far does Margaret fulfil the above