Act 3, Scene 2 is a relatively small scene where the only relevant part is when Hastings talks to Buckingham about staying for dinner at the Tower of London and Buckingham uses a knowing ‘Aside’, saying: “And supper too, although thou knowest it not! ” He knows what Hastings’ fate is and this comment was to show the audience that he is very definitely close to Richard and knows about his most secret plans. This scene (Act 3, Scene 4) is where the double-act begins to become clearer.
It is the meeting with all the influential politicians and noblemen including the Bishop of Ely which is to end with the declaration of Hastings’ death! In this scene we see the deliberate plotting behind the speeches by both Richard and Buckingham.
For example, when at the very beginning of the scene Buckingham denies the fact that he knows Richard well and suggests that Hastings is closer, knowing that Hastings will fall into the trap, it is obvious that he and Richard have planned the best and most effective way to trap Hastings.
The speech is as follows: “We know each other’s faces; for our hearts, He knows no more of mine than I of yours; Or I of his, than you of mine. Lord Hastings you and he are near in love.”
Buckingham and Richard show just how capable and clever they are when they work together. They both influence Hastings in falling into the trap and now even appear to be able to read each other’s minds; they do not plan or rehearse their speeches with each other beforehand and yet their timing and eloquence match each other perfectly.
Both Richard and Buckingham are instrumental in Hastings’ downfall and when they re-enter the room with Richard ranting and raving about witchcraft and bewitching, it is obvious how well they have plotted Hastings’ death as he is powerless in the situation – whatever he had said in answer to the accusations would have condemned him.
It is also clear that they both seem to get a satisfaction out of plotting, confiding and working together.
Act 3, Scene 5 is when Richard and Buckingham’s friendship is at its height. Their double-act is working very slickly, almost like clockwork. They both seem to know exactly what they are doing as, at the beginning of this scene they begin planning what they are going to do only a few minutes before their parts have to be played and yet everything still manages to work out just right.
Their plan is that in t Hastings’ death, they have to try and convince everyone that they are frightened for their own lives and that there is a conspiracy directed at them: “Come, cousin, canst thou quake and change thy colour, Murder thy breath in middle of a word, And then again begin, and stop again, As if thou wert distraught and mad with terror? ” It is remarkable how quickly Buckingham falls in with what Richard wants- they share lines and know exactly what each other wants and needs to do. They are working on completely the same wavelength and Buckingham even begins to speak like Richard in this scene!
Buckingham then begins to talk about “we” whenever he refers to Richard and himself that definitely shows that he recognises them as at least ‘partners in crime’. I think that at this point in the play both Richard and Buckingham temporarily receive genuine enjoyment out of their friendship as Buckingham is getting what he wants which is to increase his social status and Richard has a partner who is equally as clever and determined to achieve his ultimate aim (or so he thinks… ).
Richard obviously regards Buckingham as someone close to him and whom he can trust as he is extremely reliant on him by this time- he is resting everything on Buckingham’s task. They also both appear to enjoy each other’s company. In this scene (Act 3, Scene 7) we, the audience, witness the last real scene where the friendship is still genuine. Richard and Buckingham act as co-conspirators and there seems to be a certain level of equality between them. This is the most important stage in Richard’s plan – his campaign to become King and the fact that he relies on Buckingham to organise it all and make sure it all runs smoothly, shows that he trusts Buckingham with his life.
Buckingham takes the initiative to ensure that supporters for Richard are in attendance and then when everything seems to be going wrong, he takes charge and actually begins to give orders to Richard: “And look you get a prayer-book in your hand, And stand between two churchmen, good my lord; Play the maid’s part: still answer nay, and take it. ”
Later in the scene Richard does as he is told and the plan works- Richard becomes King. This shows that Richard and Buckingham must have a unique relationship as there is no one else in the play with whom Richard would confide his deepest darkest secrets except Buckingham; and no other character from whom Richard would take orders.
Act 4, Scene 2 is that last scene in which Richard and Buckingham appear together. Richard is now King and takes the trouble to acknowledge Buckingham’s part in his path to the throne to everyone, but very quickly becomes serious again. He immediately moves on to what is obviously his next intention or stage in his plan: the murder of the princes as Richard sees them as a very real threat: “O bitter consequence: That Edward still should live-true noble prince! Cousin, thou wast not wont to be so dull. Shall I be plain? I wish the bastards dead! And I would have it suddenly perform’d. ”
However, unfortunately for Buckingham he fails to realise what Richard is asking him soon enough and so when it finally dawns on him, he has not prepared an answer. As we discovered earlier in the play, Buckingham has a very great affection for the little princes and great loyalty towards the former King’s family and therefore is not willing to coopperate with Richard about this. Sadly, he gets caught out. He tries to back off and procrastinate but this is such a change from the former Buckingham who would follow his orders without questioning them, that Richard notices and, being very clever and sharp-minded, guesses the truth.
This is th moment when the audience realises that theirs was not a genuine friendship – Richard was only trying to use and manipulate Buckingham. Richard becomes critical of Buckingham and then ignores him completely – talking to Lord Stanley about some trivial domestic matter at the same time as Buckingham is trying to ask for his long – promised rewards. This makes it pointedly obvious to the audience that Buckingham is now on dangerous ground and that he has angered Richard. Buckingham suddenly realises the parallel between himself and Hastings and escapes as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, he later gets captured by Richard’s army and shares the same fate as was promised him by Margaret’s curse and his own oath. Richard returns to working alone without consulting or plotting with any other character. Shakespeare returns to using soliloquies to inform the audience of Richard’s personal thoughts, feelings and plans. Finally, having examined the course of the relationship between Richard and Buckingham thoroughly, I believe that theirs was not a genuine friendship.
Richard began consulting and confiding in him at the beginning because he thought that he could be easily his social position through association with Richard. The end of the relationship was very unemotional to Richard and Buckingham was just dropped as soon as there was any hint of a problem with the orders he was to follow. However, I also believe that, around the point when they conspired together to bring about the downfall of Hastings and the scene afterwards (Act 3, Scene 5) where they distract suspicion away from themselves by play acting being terrified for their lives, were points when temporary enjoyment was had from the relationship by both parties. I believe that there was a very short time when Buckingham and Richard enjoyed each other’s company and friendship but overall, it was not a genuine friendship because they were both using each other for their own purposes.