An Appeal to Arms (full draft)
Richmond’s appeal to his soldiers in Act scene is written in iambic pentameter. This means we give each line 5 beats and when reading we accent the second syllable (dee dum dee dum...and so on). Since Shakespeare also wrote the passage in blank verse, it has no rhyme scheme. The meter is consistent throughout, meaning there are no short lines or other variations in meter.
Richmond’s speech to his soldiers in Act 5.3 appeals to the soldiers morals and values. He directly contradicts King Richard’s speech to his army which invoked his soldier’s fear. Shakespeare makes these speeches paradox one another because he wants the readers to blatantly understand that Richmond is a better man than Richard. Richmond appeals to various morals in his speech; goodness, God, heroism, patriotism, and their tole as protectors of their families.
Beginning with the lines "Richard except, those whom we fight against/Had rather have us win than him they follow/ For what is he they follow? Truly, gentlemen,/A bloody tyrant and a homicide;" Richmond says Richard is the only one they are fighting who actually wishes to follow Richard ( Act 5.3 244-247). In these lines he calls Richard a tyrant, which means Richard acts for only himself which is why he is the only one who truly follows himself. If we look at these lines from Barton’s theory of reading these plays, the comma after "Richard except," indicates a pause in the voice and stresses the separation of Richard from everyone else. Within the line, "For what is he they follow? Truly, gentlemen," Shakespeare throws in a caesura which magnifies his use of the words truly and gentlemen (Act 5.3 246). Shakespeare does this to emphasize that Richmond speaks the truth about the country’s situation with Richard as ruler, and he refers to his soldiers as gentlemen rather than yeoman, as Richard does in his speech to his soldiers. In these four lines, Richmond begins his appeal to his soldiers by reassuring them that they picked the right guy to back up. He tells his soldiers that Richard’s supposed followers only support him because they fear a tyrant and a murderer.
In the next five lines "One raised in blood in blood and one in blood established;/ One that made means to come by what he hath,/And slaughter’d those that were the means to help him;/A base foul stone, made precious by the foil/ Of England’s chair, where he is falsely set;" Richmond appeals to the soldiers by pointing out that Richard is not the rightful ruler (Act 5.3 248-252). Instead of inheriting his title through the bloodline, he makes himself King Richard because he pretends to be friends with those who are in line and then kills them. A true king cannot make his crown, it should be passed down to him from the dying generation. The line "A base foul stone, made precious by the foil" is an antithesis because Richard is this despicable excuse for a man, who has made himself royalty (Act 5.3 251). In these lines Richmond also calls upon these soldier’s patriotism for their country and its traditions. He demonstrates how Richard disregards the way a king should behave and how he should receive his position.
In the following three lines "One that hath ever been God’s enemy./ Then if you fight against God’s enemy,/ God will in justice ward you as his soldiers," Richmond appeals to the soldiers’ spirituality (Act 5.3 253-255). He calls them God’s soldiers, and tells them they fight for God. In this section of his speech he speaks of God to appeal to their religious morals. He also calls Richard a rival to God, which stems from a tyrant’s belief that he is above God and law.
The next four lines "If you do sweat to put a tyrant down,/ You sleep in peace the tyrant being slain;/ If you do fight against your country’s foes,/ Your country’s fat shall pay your pains the hire;" coincide with the previous because Richmond tells the soldiers if they fight against Richard and his "followers" than they will serve both God and their country (Act 5.3 256-259). The soldiers will, therefore, be repaid with glory and peace for performing their good deed.
In the last six lines of the passage from Richmond’s speech, "If you do fight in safeguard of your wives,/ Your wives shall welcome home the conquerors;/ If you do free your children from the sword,/ Your children’s children quits it in your age:/ Then in the name of God and all these rights,/Advance your standards, draw your willing swords.", Richmond appeals to mens’ morals as the protectors of their families (Act 5.3 260-265). If the soldiers fight for their wives and childrens’ safety, than they will be revered as chivalric heros. Richmond also says that if they create peace now, the soldiers will keep their children from the need to go to battle. In the last line, "Advance your standards, draw your willing swords." (Act 5.3 260) he tells his soldiers to seek out their morals/values and fight for the them.
To summarize, Richmond infuses his soldiers with morality to fight against Richard and his men.. He calls on their goodness as gentlemen, their patriotism, their spirituality, their civic duty, and their role as protectors of their families. This speech emphasizes that Richmond should and will overthrow Richard because he represents God and morals whereas Richard represents a tyrant on a killing spree. This speech foreshadows the outcome of the play and the victory of Richmond and his gentlemen.