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Shakespeare's Richard

David Garrick as Richard III by William Hogarth.

Shakespeare's Richard

The effect that Shakespeare's play Richard III has had on the image and reputation of the late king is immense. In it Richard is portrayed as a disfigured and villainous murderer - and that is what people have believed to be the real Richard for centuries. The play is, however, only loosely based on truth and twists the actual facts a great deal. Shakespeare can perhaps be forgiven for his 'artistic' version of history, given that he lived under the rule of the Tudor dynasty, Richard's worst enemies. They would not have taken kindly to any positive portrayal of Richard.

1.
Richard III is thought to be one of Shakespeare's earliest plays. In what year do we think it was written?
It was written circa 1591
It was written circa 1596
It was written circa 1601
It was written circa 1606
Scholars believe that only Henry VI parts I, II, and III and possibly a few of the comedies were written before Richard III. Although there is no record of it being published until 1597, the play by Christopher Marlowe, Edward II, is thought to have been influenced by it. Marlowe died in 1593
2.
The play opens with Richard saying the lines:

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York


Who is the 'sun of York' whom Richard refers to?
Richard's father, Richard of York
Richard's brother, Edward IV
Richard's nephew, Edward V
Richard himself
The sun is a reference to Edward's symbol of a blazing sun and also a pun on the word son. The speech goes on to show Richard as being envious of his brother
3.
In the play, Richard tells his brother Edward of a prophecy, which states that his heirs will be murdered by one whose name begins with which letter?
The letter A
The letter H
The letter R
The letter G
Edward takes the prophecy to mean his brother George. In the play it actually stands for Gloucester, which was Richard's title at the time
4.
A minor character in the play, one of Henry Tudor's followers, shares his name with which pop star?
Michael Jackson
Elton John
James Blunt
George Harrison
Blunt was referred to as the 'Third Lord' in the earlier versions before being named in the later ones. The character is based on Sir James Blount, a Lancastrian supporter who died in 1493
5.
The earliest-known performance of the play was before which monarch?
Elizabeth I
James I
Charles I
Charles II
It was performed in November 1633 in front of the king and his wife, Queen Henrietta Maria. An Elizabethan diarist records the performance of a play called Buckingham in 1593 which may have been Richard III
6.
In the play Richard is responsible for how many deaths?
1 death
6 deaths
12 deaths
24 deaths
Richard's actions in the play brought about the deaths of The Prince of Wales, Henry VI, Edward IV, George of Clarence, Lady Anne Neville, Earl Rivers, Lord Grey, Edward V, Richard Duke of York, Lord Hastings, Sir Thomas Vaughan and the Duke of Buckingham. In reality Richard was responsible for the deaths of four of these: Rivers, Grey, Hastings and Buckingham were all executed for treason after plotting against the king
7.
What is the last line spoken by Richard III in the play?
A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!
And I will stand the hazard of the die
Five have I slain today instead of him
Seeking for Richmond in the throat of death
Spoken after Richard has been dismounted, when asked to retreat by a follower, Richard says:

Slave, I have set my life upon a cast,
And I will stand the hazard of the die:
I think there be six Richmonds in the field;
Five have I slain today instead of him.
A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!


Richard is killed soon afterwards by Henry Tudor
8.
The play was made into a film in 1955. Which star took the role of Richard?
Ralph Richardson
Laurence Olivier
John Gielgud
Alec Guiness
Olivier not only played the leading role but also directed and co-produced the film. He was nominated for an Oscar for best actor but lost out to Yul Brynner's performance in the King and I
9.
Richard III is the second-longest of Shakespeare's plays. Which is the longest?
Romeo and Juliet
Hamlet
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Julius Caesar
As well as being the longest of Shakespeare's plays, Hamlet has also been at the top of the list of plays performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company since 1879
10.
All of Richard's victims in the play return as ghosts, with one exception. Who does not return?
Anne Neville
Edward V
Henry VI
Edward IV
On the night before the Battle of Bosworth, Shakespeare has Richard dream that he is visited by the ghosts who wish him to "despair and die." They also visit Henry Tudor and say to him

"Awake, and think our wrongs in Richard’s bosom
Will conquer him! Awake, and win the day"

 

Author:  Graeme Haw

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