Queen Margaret Monologue (Act 1, Scene 3) | Monologues Unpacked

Queen Margaret Monologue (Act 1, Scene 3)

Today we’re going to do a little breakdown of Queen Margaret’s monologue to the nobles at court in the third scene of ‘King Richard III’. This character is truly one of Shakespeare’s greats and it cannot be understated the depths and highs she goes through throughout the Henriad. But before we do that, let’s figure out what’s going on shall we?

Context

So through a series of bloody civil wars between the Lancasters and the Yorks, otherise known as the war of the roses, one man has come out on top: a man who goes by Richard. We’ve watched him fight nobly and not so nobly for the past two plays and finally we come to his play. ‘King Richard III’. At the beginning of the play, he tells us all about how he cannot be loved because of his physical deformities, despite all his other great features. And therefore he will be the most villainy villain that ever villained. He plans to take the throne, but in order to do that, there’s a whole lot of people that he’s going to have to kill to get there. At this point, his brother Edward the current King is very unwell, and there’s just one brother that stands in his way, Clarence, from being in direct line to the throne. In this scene, he is about to send assassins to kill Clarence but not without turning the nobles against each other first to create chaos. Enter Queen Margaret, unseen. She hides in the room with them all, listening to what they say and cursing them for it. Because he used to be the Queen, before the current King murdered her husband King Henry VI. After listening for a while she steps forward and curses them all, telling them that they are quarreling over something that was stolen from her. While she curses the other nobles Richard tells her to stop, and she justly replies:

Original Text

And leave out thee? Stay, dog, for thou shalt hear me.
If heaven have any grievous plague in store
Exceeding those that I can wish upon thee,
O, let them keep it till thy sins be ripe
And then hurl down their indignation
On thee, the troubler of the poor world’s peace.
The worm of conscience still begnaw thy soul.
Thy friends suspect for traitors while thou liv’st,
And take deep traitors for thy dearest friends.
No sleep close up that deadly eye of thine,
Unless it be while some tormenting dream
Affrights thee with a hell of ugly devils.
Thou elvish-marked, abortive, rooting hog,
Thou that wast sealed in thy nativity
The slave of nature and the son of hell,
Thou slander of thy heavy mother’s womb,
Thou loathèd issue of thy father’s loins,
Thou rag of honor, thou detested—

Unfamiliar Language

Grievous: Awful, horrible
Plague: Sickness
Ripe: Ready
Indignation: Anger, Upset
Troubler: Person who is causing problems
Begnaw: Eat, Gnaw
Liv’st: Live
Affrights: Frightens
Elvish-Marked: Marked at birth by spirits
Rooting: Trained to dig
Nativity: Birth
Rag: Worthless

Modern Translation

And leave you out? Don’t go anywhere, dog, because you’re going to listen to me.
If heaven has anything in store for you,
That’s worse than what I’m going to give you
Let them save it for when you’ve really sinned
And then throw their anger down on you,
The person who ruins the worlds peace.
May the worm of morality eat away at your soul.
May you think of your dearest friends as traitors
And your biggest traitors as your dearest friends.
May you never be able to close your evil eyes to sleep
Unless it’s to have horrific nightmares
About a hell filled with ugly demons.
You cursed, premature, working pig.
You that was cursed from birth
To be the joke of nature and a devil,
You mockery of your mothers broken womb,
You hated sperm of your fathers loins,
You dirty rag of dishonor, you disgusting-

Notes on Performance

So the first thing I’m going to suggest, as always is to be as across the given circumstances in this scene as possible, that means knowing who we are, where we are, when it is, what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and how we’re going to do it!

Which brings me to my next point. It is a lot of reading and potentially watching (you do you), but I would highly recommend if you’re going to be performing anything from the Henriad to be as across the history of these characters as possible, especially Margaret. At least get a basic understanding of the role she plays in Henry Vi part 1 and 2. There’s a wealth of knowledge to be found in these plays!

Lastly, this is one of the few monologues in the histories where one of the female characters really gets to just fly off the handle in rage. Embrace that! Dig deep and don’t hold back on the hatred she has for these people, because it’s for good reason.

About the Author

Jake Fryer-Hornsby

Jake Fryer-Hornsby is an actor, writer, director and coach originally from Ballardong country in regional Western Australia. Jake is never in one place for very long but you can usually catch him trying to get his next caffeine fix. Jake has been a proud member of the StageMilk team since 2020.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

two × 3 =