Boy, Richard is a lot of fun to hate. Act III shows him making backroom deals and maneuvering so that not only does he have an open path to the throne, it seems like a grateful populace is pushing it on him. I’ve never really used the word “dastardly” before, but it seems appropriate to his style. He is an unabashed liar, but perhaps is the most rigorously self-reflective character in the play. He knows exactly what he wants and there are no lines he will not cross in order to obtain it.
We start things off with Richard hiding the young princes, ostensibly for their own good, in the loving warmth of the Tower of London. You remember, the place where Richard murdered Henry VI. With the boys safely tucked away, he embarks on a campaign to win support from the other nobles and citizenry of London. Lord Hastings proves less than eager to support Richard and is beheaded for it. Richard finds a way to spin it so that Hastings was executed for treason, but it all just happened so fast that Hastings wasn’t able to publicly confess, though Richard and his buddy Buckingham were witness to his confession.
After the Hastings business, Richard sends Buckingham on a disinformation campaign and starts the rumor that the princes are illegitimate and therefore have no claim to the throne. The Mayor of London calls on Richard, who is in the middle of his prayers with a couple of bishops hired for the occasion, and Buckingham makes the case to a seemingly reluctant Richard that he should be king since a) Edward’s children are bastards, b) Richard is so super-duper pious, and c) because Richard says he doesn’t want to be king, he just wants to be left with his prayers. The Mayor agrees with Buckingham, as do the citizens who are present, so Richard is left no choice but to be crowned the king of England. Aw, shucks.
I can only assume that Act IV will bring us the coronation of Richard III, because we have to have the tragic fall in Act V. I can’t wait to see what happens next!