Richard III- Five Act Structure

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Richard III Lesson Plans

The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare

Lesson Plans by Kristy Littlehale

The Tragedy of Richard III remains one of the most chilling tales of the potential destructiveness of a man’s ambition and pride. Engage students with Storyboard That's premade activities and lesson plan ideas!

Tragedy of Richard III, The

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Richard III Shakespeare Five Act Structure

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  • The play takes place after the end of the War of the Roses, with the House of York as victor. Richard III makes his intentions clear: he is going to install himself as king by getting rid of Clarence, waiting for Edward to die, and marrying Lady Anne Neville, Prince Edward’s widow.
  • Richard begins to manipulate those around him. He proposes to Lady Anne, convincing her that he killed her husband because he’s in love with her. King Edward IV is very sickly, and his two sons are too young to rule. The throne is going to defer to Richard, and Queens Margaret and Elizabeth are dismayed and angry at this prospect.
  • Richard has Clarence murdered. Edward IV dies, and young Prince Edward is to be crowned king. Richard has Elizabeth’s relatives arrested, so Elizabeth takes sanctuary with her youngest son in hopes that Richard won’t pursue them.
  • Richard places Edward IV’s two sons in the Tower of London. Richard kills Lord Hastings, and then convinces the Lord Mayor of London that Edward’s sons are illegitimate and that the people want him to be crowned King instead. He and Queen Anne are crowned the next day.
  • Richard orders Buckingham to kill the two young princes; however, when Buckingham doesn’t, he hires a man named Tyrell and Buckingham falls out of Richard’s favor. Richard plans to kill Queen Anne and marry Edward IV’s daughter, Elizabeth, his niece. The Earl of Richmond gathers an army and marches against Richard for control of the throne. Queen Elizabeth arranges to have her daughter married to Richmond instead.
  • Buckingham is beheaded. The night before the battle, all of the ghosts of Richard’s victims visit him in his dreams to tell him he will lose. Richard’s allies are with him mostly out of fear; most desert him. Finally, Richard finds Richmond, the two fight each other in a duel, and Richmond kills Richard. Richmond is crowned King Henry VII and announces his plans to marry young Elizabeth, uniting the two houses as the Tudor dynasty.
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