Richard III and winning at villainy: just be smarter than everyone else

When Richard takes the audience by the sleeve and  announces in the opening scene of Richard III


Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams,
To set my brother Clarence and the king
In deadly hate the one against the other:

This day should Clarence closely be mew’d up,
About a prophecy, which says that ‘G’
Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be.


The audience is left wondering, “Surely it can’t be that simple?” But here comes Clarence, under guard. Why?

Because my name is George.

(The king) hearkens after prophecies and dreams;
And from the cross-row plucks the letter G.
And says a wizard told him that by G
His issue disinherited should be;

Richard is all sympathy, promising to intercede with the King. Poor Clarence, believing his brother, is taken off to the Tower. When he is gone, Richard turns to the audience and says

Go, tread the path that thou shalt ne’er return.
Simple, plain Clarence! I do love thee so,
That I will shortly send thy soul to heaven,
If heaven will take the present at our hands.

The subtext is “See, I told you so, it’s so simple.”

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