Richard III, William Shakespeare, 1597

Shakespeare’s bloody tale of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, brother to King Edward IV,  who attains the crown briefly by killing or causing to be killed most of the cast remains a gripping story.  As Queen Elizabeth, the widow of Edward IV, asks in Act IV, ‘Where is thy brother Clarence and little Ned Plantagenet, his son. Where is the gentle Rivers, Vaughan, and Grey?  Where is kind Hastings?’ and before the play ends, you can add Buckingham to this list.  Richard, the hunchbacked Duke, kills them in order to grasp the crown, but is soon killed himself by the Duke of Richmond who is then crowned Henry VII.  The thirst for power, the absence of conscience, the hatred between rival families, the sheer ugliness of human nature in Richard are Shakespeare’s themes.  Bloody but beautiful in hits language, power, and arc.