William Shakespeare's Richard II tells the story of one monarch's fall from the throne and the ascension of another, Henry Bullingbrook, later to become Henry IV. There is no battle fought between the factions, nor does the process take long. The play is not action-packed, nor does it keep readers in any form of suspense, but rather is comprised of a series of quietly dignified ruminations on the nature of majesty. Thus, the drama lies not in the historical facts, but in the effects of the situation on the major characters and the parallels drawn by Shakespeare to other tales. The outrage felt by Richard and his fellow royalists is not due from a modern sense of personal loss, but from the much more important sense of loss of order, which came most predominately from the strictly Catholic sensibilities of the time. In Richard's time kings were believed to be divinely appointed and "not all the water in the rough rude sea can wash the balm off from an anointed king" (III.iii, 54-5). This disparity between the perceived will of God and the way in which the events unfold creates trouble in the minds of the characters and the audience. Shakespeare makes it clear that this is not just a simple switch of power, rather a series of events whose meanings and effects penetrate far deeper than the mere surface of the story.
Although not as advanced in its stagecraft as many of Shakespeare's other plays, the intricate web of metaphor and poetry in Richard II makes it perhaps the most meaningful and intense of the historical plays. Richard is not the sniveling villain a lesser playwright might have made him, but a philosopher and a poet whose ideas of majesty have been c...
... middle of paper ...
...49-50), desiring to repent his sin toward Richard in Jerusalem.
The historical reality of this story is merely that a bad king was replaced by a better one. However, Richard II is not merely a play about a few men long dead; it is about betrayal, dignity, sacrifice, and redemption. Seen through Shakespeare's eyes, the story is not even only about the characters contained in it, but about biblical figures and ideals that enrich the play, allowing this drama to speak to its readers no matter their location in time and space and enticing all to say, of Richard, as of Christ of Shakespeare: the King is dead, long live the King.
Shakespeare, W. "The Tragedy of King Richard the Second." The Complete
Classic Shakespeare. Toronto: Harcourt Brace Johanovich, Publishers, 1997
The Holy Bible, New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- All the passions of the irascible rise from the passions of the concupiscible appetite and terminate in them. For instance, anger rises from sadness, and, having wrought vengeance, terminates in joy. -- St. Thomas Aquinas Richard the Third is an intense exploration of the psychology of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and that exploration is centered on Richard’s mind. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened.... [tags: Shakespeare, Richard III]
2055 words (5.9 pages)
- Shakespeare’s “Richard III” portrays a ‘serious’ yet passionate declaration of love to Anne greatly contrasting with the more solemn and composed confession given by Mr Collins in Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”. Where Richard III seems to be unable to hold back his feelings Mr Collins appears to quite calmly lay out his reasoning for his proposed match to Elizabeth Bennet. Thus both extracts could be said to be giving us very different depictions of the idea of a ‘declaration of love’. Shakespeare uses hyperbolic language and melodrama in order to exaggerate the supposed love that Richard feels for Anne as he declares that “[Anne’s] beauty, ...did haunt me in my sleep” which can also be desc... [tags: Shakespeare, Richard III]
1344 words (3.8 pages)
- Richard II in William Shakespeare The plays of William Shakespeare are generally easy to categorize, and the heroes of these plays are equally so. However, in the history play Richard II, Shakespeare’s king is more ambiguous than Hamlet or Romeo– there is no clear cut answer to whether Richard II is a tragic hero... or simply a tragedy. Historically, Richard II was crowned at a very young age, forced into the role of monarch, and thrust without hesitation into the murky world of political intrigue, which perhaps lends his character sympathy because he had no choice in his fate.... [tags: Hero Richard II Shakespeare Essays]
705 words (2 pages)
- The famed saying goes, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely". While this is true, an unwavering belief in the impenetrability of that power can be just as corruptive. In William Shakespeare's Richard II, the plays titular character faces exactly this dilemma. Believing his claim to the throne to be ironclad and divinely mandated, Richard finds himself at odds when he returns from war to find he has lost his power over England. In the "death of kings" speech of Act III, scene II, Richard wrestles with the realization that though he is king, he is also a man.... [tags: literary analysis, shakespeare]
1013 words (2.9 pages)
- William Shakespeare's Richard III William Shakespeare’s characterization of Britain’s historical monarch Richard III, formerly Duke of Gloucester, is one of the most controversial in literature. To this day there are arguments upholding Richard III’s villainy and ascertaining his murder of the Princes in the tower, just as there are those who believe that he has been falsely represented by Shakespeare’s play and fight avidly to clear his name of any and all crimes. Because of the uncertainty surrounding his true character, Richard III is an intriguing personality to put into modern culture, which is exactly what Ian McKellen does in his rendition of the infamous ruler.... [tags: William Shakespeare Richard III Essays]
843 words (2.4 pages)
- Shakespeare on Machiavelli: The Prince in Richard III According to many, Shakespeare intentionally portrays Richard III in ways that would have the world hail him as the ultimate Machiavel. This build up only serves to further the dramatic irony when Richard falls from his throne. The nature of Richard's character is key to discovering the commentary Shakespeare is delivering on the nature of tyrants. By setting up Richard to be seen as the ultimate Machiavel, only to have him utterly destroyed, Shakespeare makes a dramatic commentary on the frailty of tyranny and such men as would aspire to tyrannical rule.... [tags: Richard II Richard III Essays Shakespeare]
1505 words (4.3 pages)
- The Supernatural in Shakespeare's Richard III Casting a darkly mythical aura around Richard III, supernatural elements are intrinsic to this Shakespearean history play. The prophetic dreams of Clarence and Stanley blur the line between dream and reality, serving to foreshadow impending doom. The ghosts that appear before Richard III and Richmond before their battle create an atmosphere of dread and suspense, and they also herald Richard's destiny. The curses of three female royalties are fulfilled at the end, serving as reminders that the divine powers are stronger than Richard's malice.... [tags: Richard III William Shakespeare Essays Papers]
1457 words (4.2 pages)
- Shakespeare, Loncraine, Donaldson, Richard, and Me Act 2.4 of Loncraine’s Richard III is where I started furiously scribbling notes in the margins of notes. After Rivers is shockingly murdered, Loncraine films a still shot of the countryside. A farmer leads an ox in the foreground, while a train noisily passes in the background. There is a quick cut to the train, smoke billowing from its engines, entering a dark tunnel and then another cut to a toy train in the palace. The young Yorks are playing with the toy train and also a gray airplane.... [tags: Shakespeare Loncraine Donaldson Richard Essays]
1641 words (4.7 pages)
- The Power of Women in Richard III In Shakespeare's The Tragedy of King Richard the Third, the historical context of the play is dominated by male figures. As a result, women are relegated to an inferior role. However, they achieve verbal power through their own discourse of religion and superstition. In the opening speech of Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 1-30 Lady Anne orients the reader to the crucial political context of the play and the metaphysical issues contained within it (Greenblatt, 509).... [tags: William Shakespeare Richard III Richard II]
1485 words (4.2 pages)
- The Development of Prince Hal into a Leader in William Shakespeare's Henry IV Although William Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1 depicts Henry Bolingbroke's troubles following the usurpation of England's thrown, the more consequential plot concerns the transformation of Prince Hal from a tavern crony into the next King of England. This is a play of contrast where Prince Hal is caught between two father figures who represent contradicting ideals. The figure most notable in the Prince's youth is Falstaff, a materialist who rejects responsibility and has a childish demeanor, thus providing a comparison with the Prince's own youthfulness.... [tags: Papers]
981 words (2.8 pages)
- The Unsuspecting Hero of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit
- Use of Imagery and Metaphor in Wilfred Owen's Dulce et Decorum Est
- Negative Effects of False Media Images
- Shakespeare's Hamlet: Who is Gertrude?
- Indecision, Hesitation and Delay in Shakespeare's Hamlet
- Custom Essay: Shakespeare's Hamlet and the Character of Gertrude