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The first play of a historical tetralogy consisting of Shakespeare’s Henry IV (parts 1 and 2) and Henry V, Richard II details the tragic downfall of the eponymous king and simultaneous rise of Henry IV. Whereas Richard II’s reliance on his bloodline and the Divine Right of Kings makes him old fashioned and reminiscent of medieval rulers, Henry IV’s contrastingly modern reliance on Machiavellian principles and his intellectual prowess gives him an edge that is ultimately Richard’s undoing. A powerful and elaborate tragedy, Richard II remains one of the most politically charged plays of Shakespeare’s illustrious career.
80 Fall like amazing thunder on the casque 81 Of thy adverse pernicious enemy. 82 Rouse up thy youthful blood, be valiant, and live. 83 BOLINGBROKE Mine innocence and Saint George to thrive! 84 MOWBRAY However God or fortune cast my lot, 85 There lives or dies, true to King Richard’s throne, 86 A loyal, just, and upright gentleman. 87 Never did captive with a freer heart 88 Cast off his chains of bondage and embrace 89 His golden uncontrolled enfranchisement 90 More than my
in 1397 the duke of Gloucester entered into a conspiracy with several lords of the realm to capture and imprison King Richard and the dukes of Lancaster and York, and to kill the remaining lords of the king’s council. The conspiracy was revealed to the king, who had Gloucester arrested and sent to Calais. According to Holinshed (who notes that he took this story “out of an old French pamphlet”), the king ordered “Thomas Mowbray, Earl Marshall” to kill the duke of Gloucester secretly. When “the
at his performance as king. It is a contempt inscribed in the mocking irony of his setting himself up as Christ (4.1.177–80, 248–53), coming down as Phaëton the usurper of the sun-god’s chariot (3.3.183–84), and playing the role of a Faustus forced to stage-manage his own secular damnation. He shows contempt for an ideology of sacralized kingship powerless to restrain his abuses; contempt for those around him who, if they don’t actually believe in the ideology, continue to invoke it, especially
History for Shakespeare and His Time.” Shakespeare Quarterly 39 (1988): 441–64. As a way of focusing his concerns with “some of the confusions plaguing” the “exciting” critical movements known as new historicism and cultural materialism, Barroll discusses the performance of Richard II at the Globe on the eve of the Essex rebellion in 1601. He specifically faults political readings that, by failing to take into account all the available evidence, mistakenly posit the play’s essential
Richard to act now and not refuse the help the bishop believes that heaven offers. heavens yield: i.e., the heavens yield, or heaven yields 34. security: foolish absence of anxiety, overconfidence 35. in substance and in power: i.e., in resources and in troops 36. Discomfortable: discouraging, disheartening 37. searching eye of heaven: i.e., sun (Richard here begins a comparison of the sun’s absence at nighttime to his own absence in Ireland. In Ptolemaic astronomy, the sun travels around the