A Comparison of Corrupt Kings in Shakespeare's Henry IV and Richard II Essay

A Comparison of Corrupt Kings in Shakespeare's Henry IV and Richard II Essay

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A successful monarchy relies upon a stable leader who is concerned with the satisfaction of those he rules over. Henry Bolingbroke the IV in Shakespeare's Henry the IV Part I follows a trend set by his predecessor in Richard II of self-indulgence and neglect of his kingdom. These leaders worry about the possibility of losing their kingdom or their soldiers to other nobles who were also concerned more with obtaining a higher position rather than governing. The king must also be wary of his own life, something that was once revered and guarded closely by other nobles. Wars once fought for gaining or protecting land are overshadowed by personal battles fighting for the position of king.

Henry proved himself a powerful and fearless leader when he forcefully overthrew King Richard despite the divine rights bestowed upon him. While this was disruptive to the country, it appeared that this new leader would be successful because of confidence and military strength. However, shortly after he obtained his position, Henry became aware of the forces pulling the king away from his duties. He fails to either ignore or eliminate these distractions and becomes absorbed in them instead; "It seems then that the tidings of this broil/Brake off our business." (Henry, I, i, 47-48). Unfortunately, the king is not the only one neglecting the country. Most of the nobles realize their potential for additional power after the throne has been usurped. This disease, known as neglect, spreads through the ruling class unnoticed by the inflicted. John of Gaunt is one of the few nobles to see what the English peasants have seen; "That England that was wont to conquer others / Hath made a shameful conquest of itself." (Richard, II, i, 69-70). John of Gaunt sc...


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...bination which proved to be impossible.

Works Cited and Consulted

Barber, C.L. "Rule and Misrule in Henry IV." William Shakespeare: Histories and Poems. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. 143-167.

Bloom, Harold. Richard II, Part One: Bloom's Notes. New York: Chelsea House, 1996.

Cruttwell,Patrick. Hernry IV. Shakespeare For Students, Vol. II. Detroit: Gale Publishing, 1999.

Kantor, Andrea. Henry IV, Part One. London: Baron's Education Series, Inc, 1984.

Princiss, G.M. Richard II Criticism. Shakespeare For Students, Vol.II. Detroit: Gale Publishing, 1999.

Shakespeare, William. Richard II The Norton Shakespeare. Ed Stephen Greenblatt, et al. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1997.

Shakespeare, William. Henry IV. In The Norten Anthology of English Literature. Eds. M.H. Abrams et all. 5th Ed. New York: Norton, 1987.

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