Richard III is one of William Shakespeare’s history plays.


Shakespeare’s attitude toward Richard is one of condemnation and disgust, combined with a penetrating fascination with the mind of the power-hungry psychopath.

Setting (Time & Place)

The play takes place around 1485, although the actual historical events of the play took place over a much longer period, around 1471–1485. Richard III takes place in various palaces and locales in England


Richard III is the protagonist of the play.

Major Conflict

Richard, the power-hungry younger brother of the king of England, longs to seize control of the throne, but he is far back in the line of succession. He plots and manipulates his way past the obstacles in his path to power, betraying and murdering with reckless abandon as he proceeds.

Rising Action

Richard persuades Lady Anne, Prince Edward’s widow, to marry him, he has his brother Clarence murdered, and he has the two young princes in line for the throne murdered.


In Act 3, Scene 7, Buckingham and others entreat Richard to accept the crown, which he pretends to refuse and then accepts.

Falling Action

Richard turns against Buckingham and murders the young princes, as well as his wife Anne. Richmond then defeats Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field.


Richard III is full of foreshadowing, including Margaret’s curses (which foreshadow almost all the future action of the play), Richard’s monologues, the prophetic dreams of Clarence and Stanley, and the pronouncements of the ghosts in Act 5.