'Richard III' - Study Guide

The Ultimate Student Study Guide to 'Richard III'

Richard III was written in around 1592 by William Shakespeare, and charts the rise and fall of England's tyrant King, Richard III.

This study guide is designed to guide you through this long and complex play - only Hamlet is longer - with plot overviews, theme analysis and character profiles. At the end there is also a scene-by-scene analysis which translates the original text into modern English.

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Shakespeare's Richard III - Overview

The best place to start is with an overview of Richard III to explore the historical context of the play. The play assumes that the audience would be familiar with history from this time and makes reference to events in the Bard's other history plays.

In this resource, we tell you what you need to know to help contextualize the play.

Core to this play is Shakespeare’s characterization of Richard III as unrelentingly malevolent, manipulative and power hungry. The only justification he gives to his evil acts is his deformity - as he is unable to to woo women, he resolves to being an outright villain. More »

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Who is Richard III? (In the History Books)

Was Richard III really as evil as Shakespeare makes out? What was the real historical figure like? 

The key theme is power - how Richard aspires to it, abuses it and is ultimately destroyed by it. Explore this theme to further your study and understanding. More »

How does the judgement of God impact on Richard III. Find out in this article. More »

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Theme Three: Rise of the Tudors

Richard III was the last of his blood line, and reigned during a very unstable period in history. The play is a product of this cultural and political turmoil, so we look at the impact of the rise of the Tudors on Shakespeare's Richard III.

In the first act of this play, Richard marries Lady Anne. But why? Lady Anne knows that Richard killed close members of her family. Learn more in this fascinating resource. More »

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Scene-by-Scene Analysis

Shakespeare (illustration)
CSA Images/Printstock Collection/Getty Images

Detailed analysis and modern-day translations of Richard III, all broken down into individual scenes to help you study this play closely.

Act One

  • Act 1, Scene 1 (Now is the winter of our discontent - Part 1)
  • Act 1, Scene 1 (Part 2)
  • Act 1, Scene 1 (Part 3)
  • Act 1, Scene 2 (Part 1)
  • Act 1, Scene 2 (Part 2)
  • Act 1, Scene 2 (Part 3)
  • Act 1, Scene 3 (Part 1)
  • Act 1, Scene 3 (Part 2)
  • Act 1, Scene 3 (Part 3)
  • Act 1, Scene 4 (Part 1)
  • Act 1, Scene 4 (Part 2)


Act Two

Act Three

Act Four


Act Five