Richard III

Back to List of Characters

Earl of Surrey

The character of the Earl of Surrey in William Shakespeare's play Richard III is a significant figure in the political landscape of the play. As a nobleman and military leader, the Earl of Surrey plays a crucial role in the power struggles and conflicts that unfold throughout the play.

The Rise to Power

Born into the powerful Howard family, the Earl of Surrey, also known as Thomas Howard, is the son of the Duke of Norfolk. With his noble lineage and distinguished military career, Surrey quickly establishes himself as a formidable force in the court of King Richard III. He is known for his loyalty to the crown and his unwavering dedication to the Yorkist cause.

Surrey's rise to power begins when his father, the Duke of Norfolk, is executed for his involvement in the unsuccessful rebellion against King Henry VII. Despite this setback, Surrey manages to navigate the treacherous political landscape and gain the favor of King Richard III. He is appointed as the Duke of Norfolk, inheriting his father's title and lands.

As the Duke of Norfolk, Surrey becomes one of Richard III's most trusted advisors and military commanders. He leads the Yorkist forces in several key battles, including the Battle of Bosworth, where Richard III meets his ultimate demise. Surrey's tactical prowess and unwavering loyalty to the crown earn him a reputation as a skilled military leader.

Ambitions and Rivalries

Despite his loyalty to King Richard III, the Earl of Surrey is not without his own ambitions and rivalries. He is a shrewd and calculating nobleman who recognizes the opportunities for personal gain and advancement in the chaotic political climate of the play.

Surrey's ambitions often bring him into conflict with other powerful figures in the play, most notably the Duke of Buckingham. Both men vie for influence and favor with the king, leading to a bitter rivalry that escalates throughout the play. Their rivalry ultimately culminates in a confrontation that has far-reaching consequences for both characters.

The Earl of Surrey's character is a complex mix of loyalty, ambition, and political maneuvering. He embodies the tensions and power struggles that define the world of Richard III. Shakespeare's portrayal of Surrey serves as a reminder of the intricate web of alliances and rivalries that shape political life in the play.

In conclusion, the character of the Earl of Surrey in Richard III is a fascinating and multifaceted figure. His rise to power, military prowess, and ambitions make him a central player in the political drama of the play. Whether as a loyal supporter of the crown or a cunning rival, the Earl of Surrey leaves a lasting impact on the audience and contributes to the overall complexity and depth of Richard III.