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Act I, SCENE 2
The scene is set at Sandal Castle with Edward, Richard and
Montague. York's sons Richard and Edward and brother Montague
are arguing over who is entitled to the crown of England. When the
Duke of York enters and inquires what the quarrel is about,
Edward replies that it is not a quarrel but a slight contention or
dispute about the crown. Richard says that the crown is York's, but
York replies that it will be so only after the King's death. Edward
warns his father that if the house of Lancaster is given much time,
they might overtake them and deprive them of their title to the
crown. He advises his father to enjoy the crown now. York says
that he has taken an oath but Edward replies that breaking an oath
for a kingdom is not a sin, and he would break a thousand oaths to
reign one year. Richard says that an oath will be valid only if it is
taken before a true and lawful magistrate. He suggests that York
win the crown by arms and makes him aware of the pleasant
feeling one has while wearing a crown and of the bliss and joy it
will bring to the wearer. Richard says he cannot rest until the white
rose that he is wearing is dyed by the lukewarm blood of Henry's
heart. York agrees and says he will be king or die. He sends
Montague to Warwick in London and Richard to the Duke of
Norfolk to tell them their plans.
A messenger arrives and coveys the news that the queen along
with twenty thousand men have come to besiege York in his castle.
York asks Edward and Richard to stay with him and sends
Montague to London, to win the favor of the noble Warwick.
York's uncles enter and express their willingness to face the Queen
in the field. When York expresses dismay at the size of the queen's
army, Richard makes a disparaging remark about the general being
a woman. York is appeased and becomes optimistic and confident
that they will win.
The scene begins with an argument between York's sons Edward
and Richard over the crown of England. When York inquires what
the quarrel is about, they reply that it is not a quarrel but a
contention or dispute about the crown. York says that the crown
will be his only after the King's death. This shows that York is
attempting to of keep his promise, but his sons dissuade him from
the rightful path and tempt him with the possibility of bliss that
kingship will give him. Edward says breaking an oath for a
kingdom is not a sin, and he is ready to break a thousand oaths to
reign on year. This shows
his ruthless nature and his ambitious attitude. Moral values seems
to be of no importance to him, and he is prepared to take drastic
measures to achieve his ambition. Richard says that an oath is valid
only if it is taken before a true and lawful magistrate and provokes
York to resort to arms. He says,
'I cannot rest until the white rose that I wear be dy'd
Even in the lukewarm blood of Henry's heart.'
York is persuaded to take over as king and summons his men to
gather an army. This quick decision to ignore the agreement he has
made with Henry shows how his baser instincts supercede any
common decency, a theme that plays itself out throughout the play.
As seen from the last scene, Richard is bloodthirsty and fearless
and his father's favorite. He is in dire opposition to King Henry VI,
but what he says is often full of violent images. He is always ready
for battle and does not foresee danger but only victory. He is
dismissive of women who do not play traditional roles such as
Queen Margaret when he cavalierly says,
'Aye, with five hundred, father for a need.
A woman's general; what should we fear.'
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