Richard kills people left and right and gets away with it it seems. And he doesn’t kill just anyone, but people in high places. He is never imprisoned or punished by any judicial or political means either. It’s not even like he hides his murderous acts. He does lie about them on occasion but for the most part people know who he has killed and he even confesses to it. It is interesting, however, that he never really comes out and says he committed the murders he did clearly; he always uses third person, says it in some other clever way, or just blatantly lies. He blatantly lies about not killing Anne’s husband in Act 1, scene 2 when he says, when speaking to Anne, “I did not kill your husband” (1.ii.93). Then he proceeds to blame Edward, saying “Nay, he is dead, and slain by Edward’s hands” (1.ii.95). Anne wisely counters him, knowing full well that he is lying yet again.
Richard tries to rationalize murdering the king shortly after, when he admits to Anne that he killed him. Anne says, “[The king] is in heaven, where thou shalt never come” and Richard cleverly responds, “Let him thank me, that help to send him thither, / For he was fitter for that place than earth” (1.ii.110-12). He is persistently twisting words around, trying to make himself look good and to justify his heinous acts.
Perhaps it is his wit that keeps him out of trouble with the law, or maybe his incessant lying does the trick. Does he talk his way out of punishment? Or does everyone just know that he has killed men and not seriously punish him because of his place in society? Maybe the laws were different in Shakespeare’s time, particularly concerning royalty. Would he be punished for his murderous acts if he were a peasant or a person of the lower class? Does he get away with murder because people feel bad for him? That surely doesn’t seem to be the case as many greatly detest him and are not afraid to tell him.
Also, the fact that people seem to know about Richard’s wrong-doings and still consider him next in line to be king, or protector in this case, is baffling to me. They are essentially condoning murder, even as a method to get to the throne.