One night I was in the theatre during rehearsal and I was standing on-stage and my director asked me what I had to do tonight for homework. I told her all the boring things I had then I told her despite all that I get to read Richard III tonight. She smiles and said, “What is the first line of the show. Quick mock audition, go!” This was the first time I would be reading Richard III so I did not know the line. I thought to myself, “Is this a thing I am supposed to know as a theatre major? The first line of every Shakespeare play?” Thankfully, my friend standing behind me whispered the lines to me and saved me.
Richard III: “Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this son of York;” (Act 1, scene 1)
I am not sure why these lines are so famous besides the fact that is the first lines of one of Shakespeare’s popular plays. It also could be because these lines say so much while saying so little.
Seasons in these lines are representing feelings or a state of being. Winter could be sadness, dark times, and lack of power. This is when Richard III’s family now gained the crown, so this now is the “glorious summer.” So winter was the time that Richard III’s family did not have the crown. Winter is looked at as a negative and summer is looked at as a positive. I saw a lot of examples of seasons being represented in the sonnets as connections to feelings, or a state of being. In sonnet 18 for example:
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”
This is another one of Shakespeare’s most famous lines and it involves a season in it. He is talking about someone he admires in this sonnet and the comparison to a summer’s day is a very positive compliment. It says so much in so little just like the first lines of Richard III.
In conclusion, Shakespeare uses seasons a lot as metaphors in his work and the two of many of his famous lines involve seasons. The first line of this play says a lot in a short amount of time making the line very powerful. It represents how Richard III feels about his family finally being in charge of the crown. It also can be concluded that seasons represent change and it indicates that a big change is coming to Richard III’s life and for the kingdom, so there is a bit of foreshadowing for the rest of the play in that line. I will never forget that line again, so when I am asked in the future what the first line of Richard III is I will not only recite it but I can also analyze.