“I am determined to prove a villain / and hate the idle pleasures of these days. / Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous, / by drunken prophecies, libels and dreams” (1.1.31-34). Richard III, the evil Duke of Gloucester, is fighting a bloody road to the crown in Shakespeare's dramatic play. Stopped by nothing and with brilliant intelligence, Richard fights his way to the king’s position, clothing his villainy with “old odd ends stolen out of holy writ.” With no one to fully trust, Richard breaks many hearts by killing all people in his way and becomes the unstoppable villain. He hides behind a shield of kindness and care, but when he is alone, his real soul comes alive. His deformed back makes him seem even more threatening, and he seems to have realized he couldn’t fit in. Sending murderers, or killing people himself, he has no mercy. Manipulating Lady Anne to marry him and promising Buckingham rewards for his deeds, he knows what he is doing, and won’t stop until the crown lies at his feet.
Richard starts by persuading Lady Anne to marry him. After killing her husband and dad, he still blames her for not accepting his love. With great confidence, he tells her to either kill him or marry him. “Arise, dissembler: though I wish thy death, I will not be the executioner” (1.2.372-373). Richard takes his advantage in that and is able to persuade her to marry him. He marries her, but not for the love, just for the land she owns and her power. In the meantime, King Edward is dying, and Richard tells two murderers to kill Clarence behind everyone’s back. Getting rid of his brothers will make it easier to get closer to the crown. Queen Elizabeth and Margaret are blaming Richard for doing all this, but he does as if he is forgiving and kind. Clarence gets stabbed and drowned in a barrel of wine after trying to persuade the murderers to not kill him. When Queen Elizabeth, Margaret, and the Duchess of York her about this, they burst into tears. “Alas for both, both mine, Edward and Clarence!” (2.2.1345).
Richard has Queen Elizabeth’s son, and she keeps her other son with her. Richard is imprisoning the son to keep him from taking the crown and waits for him in London. When Prince Edward arrives, Richard tells him about the death of his uncles. The young Prince Edward argues with him about staying in the tower, and Richard says almost whispering, “So wise so young, they say, do never live long,” (3.1.1648-1650) foreshadowing that he will kill him soon. Richard is also planning to capture Elizabeth’s other son, the Duke of York. The Duke of Buckingham is helping Richard a lot with all his dark plans, and Richard promises him an Earlship when he will become king. He tells the Duke of Buckingham that if Hastings shows any sign of being against them, they should chop off his head. Basically, Richard is getting any obstacle to his goal out of the way and does this in a very bloody way.
As time passes, Richard kills more people; Vaughan, Rivers, and Grey, but now a big obstacle lies in his way; getting the people to like him. But Buckingham knows what to do. He tells Richard to take two priests with him since the people are very religious and will follow the priest's’ actions. After doing as if he was denying the request for being the king, the crowd tried to persuade him. Because of doing as if he didn’t want the crown, the crowd thought they could trust him more, and begged him to be the king. Eventually he said yes, and finally became king of England. He orders Buckingham to kill Prince Edward, but Buckingham refuses to. Buckingham asks for his Earlship, but Richard gets mad and dismisses him. He knows he also has to get rid of Buckingham now since he is not loyal to him anymore. He hires a murderer called Tyrrel to kill the princes and finally he got rid of everyone.
In the meantime, Richmond is gaining power and preparing an army to fight against Richard. Richard is under stress and is taking a lot of bad decisions. Buckingham has gone over to Richmond’s side, and the two camps are now set up. Both leaders are giving speeches and preparing their armies. Richard is confident, but at night, he starts having nightmares. Terrifying dreams about all the ghosts of the people Richard killed. They are floating above Richard’s and Richmond’s heads, and start cursing Richard one by one. Then, they wish Richmond success and leave Richard sitting there alone, with no friends and no one to trust. This event takes a big bite of his self-confidence and leads to the downfall of Richard. Standing in the middle of the battlefield without a horse, he cries for help, “A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!” (5.4.3887), until Richmond ends his villainous life with his victorious sword. “The day is ours, the bloody dog is dead” (5.5.3894).