It is a play about the race to power and how the crimes committed during that race poison everything.
“Princes have but their titles for their glories,
An outward honor for an inward toil.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.107).
“Lord Hastings: O momentary grace of mortal men,
Which we more hunt for than the grace of God!
Who builds his hope in air of your fair looks,
Lives like a drunken sailor on a mast,
Ready, with every nod, to tumble down
Into the fatal bowels of the deep.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.120).
A play as the perfect example of the self-perpetuation of violence. Violence brought Richard to the throne, but every murder is followed by another murder to eliminate another enemy or to cover up the previous murder.
“Duke of Clarence: It cannot be; for when I parted with him,
He hugg’d me in his arms, and swore, with sobs,
That he would labour my delivery.
First murderer: Why, so he doth, now he delivers thee
From this earth’s thraldom to the joys of heaven.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.109).
What do I fear? There’s none else by:
Richard loves Richard; that is, I am I.
Is there a murderer here? No; - yes, I am:
Then fly. What, from myself? Great reason why:
Lest I revenge. What, myself upon myself?
Alack, I love myself. Wherefore? For any good
That I myself have done unto myself?
O, no! alas, I rather hate myself
For hateful deeds committed by myself!
I am a villain: yet I lie, I am not.
For, of thyself speak well. – fool, do not flatter.
My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,
And every tongue brings in a several tale
And every tale condemms me for a villain.
And if I die, no sould shall pity me:
Nay, wherefore should they, - since that I myself
Find in myself no pity to myself” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.136).
It is also full of wordplays, where the opponents use the same wordings and turn the meaning around.
“Duke of Gloster:
Here. (She spits at him) Why dost though spit at me?
Lady Anne: Would it were mortal poison. For thy sake!
Duke of Gloster: Never came poison from so sweet a place.
Lady Anne: Never hung poison on a fouler toad.
Out of my sight! Thou dost infect mine eyes.
Duke of Gloster: Thine eyes, sweet lady, have infected mine.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.101).
“Duke of Gloster: If I should be! – I rather be a pedlar:
Far be it from my heart, the thought of it!
Queen Elizabeth: As little joy may you suppose in me,
That I enjoy, being the queen thereof.
Queen Margaret (aside): As little joy enjoys the queen thereof;
For I am she, and altogether joyless.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.104).