Our boy Richard has found himself in a spot of trouble in Act IV. His friends are dropping like flies and he can now call himself a child murderer (meaning he killed a child, not that he was a child who murdered). Richard has been crowned now, so he is indeed the king, but he has a very tenuous grip on the country. His enemies are multiplying and taking up arms against him all over the country. By the end of the act, a conspiracy to install Lord Richmond on the throne is revealed to us.
The story has gotten pretty exciting. Richard marries Anne, basically by ordering her to be his bride, then he promptly kills her since he thinks marrying his niece will secure his hold on the throne a little better. He also takes it upon himself to have the two princes in the Tower murdered by an impoverished nobleman named Tyrrel, who immediately feels the great weight of what he has done. Richard couldn’t care less, of course. Because of Richard’s casual murder of the children, Buckingham breaks with him and runs off to aid Richmond in defeating the king.
Meanwhile, Richard is trying to get his brother’s widow to woo her daughter Elizabeth on his behalf. He is doing his level best to be persuasive, but she just can’t seem to get past the fact that he killed her husband and her sons. Richard loses patience with her and says, “Harp not on that string, madam. That is past.” Eventually he is able to threaten her sufficiently to do his bidding, but we’ll see if poor Elizabeth really does become the new queen.
Finally, we have a short scene with Lord Stanley revealing a large conspiracy to replace Richard on the throne. Armies are amassing all over the land and Richard doesn’t seem to have a mind for military tactics, so I can only assume things will go badly for him from here. Oh, and because we are about to start the last act of a tragedy. I love how quickly the house of cards has tumbled around our “bunch-backed toad” and his ruthlessness is being repaid with interest. Unsurprisingly, Richard has become more of an egomaniacal creep with more power, so it’s fun to watch the forces aligning against him here at the end. I can’t wait to read the thrilling conclusion of Richard III.