The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2222 Monday, 24 November 2003
Date: Sunday, 23 Nov 2003 13:25:24 -0400
Subject: Margaret, Rivers and Dorset
Here are some thoughts of mine on the "Queen Margaret" parts of Act I
Scene III of Richard III, which I'm just throwing into the SHAKSPER pot
to see what views others have:
I'm often puzzled by the "standers-by" thing - ie the relationship
between Queen Margaret (a Lancastrian) and Rivers & Dorset, who
themselves were "factious for the house of Lancaster". There are two
points in this scene where that seems to be a problem - firstly where
they discuss the murder of Rutland (a York, who died young, murdered by
Clifford, who was one of Margaret's confederates). The characters in
this scene generally hold Margaret responsible for Rutland's death, and
Dorset throws his cap in with the others, saying "no man but prophesied
revenge for it". Yet if Dorset was a Lancastrian at the time of
Rutland's death, as he was, then he too would have been a confederate of
the bloody Clifford, and should be considered more complicit in
Rutland's death than qualified to cast judgment for it.
The second problem is less clear-cut* and concerns the death of Ned
Plantagenet, Margaret's son, murdered by the three York boys (Edward,
Clarence and Richard). Margaret describes Hastings as a stander-by at
this event**, also tarring Rivers and Dorset with this same brush, and
cursing all three. Yet (like the previous problem with the roles
reversed) if Rivers & Dorset were Lancastrians at the time then their
status as standers-by was the same as Margaret's herself***- friends to
the unfortunate Ned who would have saved him but were impotent to do so.
* Because the Elizabeth/Edward marriage may have caused Rivers & Dorset
to change sides before the events I'm about to describe. Rivers is
Elizabeth's brother, Dorset her son.
** Even this is not correct, if we compare with the original murder
scene, which was itself dramatised by Shakespeare in Act V Scene V of
Henry VI Part III, when neither Hastings, Rivers nor Dorset is on stage.
*** ...who is in 3H6 Vv.
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