Plot overview

Richard III is a play about evil, violence and murder. It charts the rise of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, a cold-blooded and dastardly villain who slaughters his family and even marries his victim’s widow to become king. It’s a history play, but the plot isn’t necessarily true to events: Shakespeare wrote the play during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The hero of the play, who ends Richard’s reign of tyranny, is Richmond, who goes on to become King Henry VII, Queen Elizabeth’s grandfather.


  • Richard sets up his brother Clarence who’s sent to prison for treason.
  • Richard makes a pass at Lady Anne, despite him murdering her husband.
  • Henry VI’s widow, Queen Margaret, puts curses on everyone.
  • Clarence is killed, King Edward IV dies and his son becomes his heir.
  • Richard has Elizabeth’s relatives and Hastings killed. He becomes King.
  • Richard has his nephews and wife killed, then he proposes to his niece.
  • Buckingham asks for his reward for loyalty and is executed.
  • Richard’s enemy, Richmond promises to topple the tyrant King. Ghosts visit both men.
  • Richmond kills Richard in battle, ending the conflict between York and Lancaster.