The Characters of Bolingbroke and Richard II
"What tongue speaks my right drawn sword may prove" is the sentence which concludes a short speech delivered by Henry Bolingbroke to King Richard II (1.1.6). These words are but the first demonstration of the marked difference between the above-mentioned characters in The Tragedy of Richard II. The line presents a man intent on action, a foil to the title character, a man of words.
When Bolingbroke first appears in the play, he is accusing Thomas Mowbray of treason and then states that he is ready to act upon his accusations, to draw his sword against Mowbray. He declares, "Besides I say and will in battle prove . . ." (1.1.92, emphasis mine). Richard yields to the request of trial by combat. It is a ruling on which he later reneges, pronouncing banishment on the two parties rather than allowing their confrontation.
This is a prime example of Richard using his authority by way of rulings and pronouncements rather than action, even to the point of disallowing an action. Bolingbroke, on the other hand, is quite ready to do battle no matter what the consequences. Moments before Richard puts a stop to the proceedings, Bolingbroke says, ". . . let no noble eye profane a tear / For me, if I be gorged with Mowbray's spear" (1.3.58-59). Here is a man who is resolved in his intent.
To be sure, even in the ensuing banishment, Bolingbroke is not hindered. When he learns of the seizure of the estate of his dead father, John of Gaunt, by Richard, he comes back to England despite the ...
... middle of paper ...
...essing anyone who was around or even just addressing himself. However, Bolingbroke is not a man of many words; he feels the need to physically atone for his part in the murder, "To wash this blood off [his] guilty hand" (5.6.50).
Nevertheless, as a man of action, Bolingbroke has achieved for himself the goal of retrieving his father Gaunt's estates and much more. He, in the end, is king, King Henry IV. And though Richard as king was full of pomp and ceremony, those things were no match for ambition carried to its fullest. His strong words belied incompetence as a ruler, and he could not hold his position. It seems that it was inevitable that Bolingbroke would be the victor at last. Richard should have taken more note of his usurper, before he was such, this man he called "[Gaunt's] bold son" (1.1.3).
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- History and Tragedy in Richard II An attempt to sort Shakespeare's plays into neat categories may appear to have its benefits when striving to understand his work, but even a superficial reading of Richard II indicates that this approach is largely futile and sometimes misleading. While it cannot be doubted that the play is of a historical nature, based on events recorded in Holinshed's Chronicles of 1577 and named after an actual king, a sense of true Shakespearean tragedy is also present throughout.... [tags: Richard II Richard III Essays]
2054 words (5.9 pages)
- Narcissism and Metadrama in Richard II Over the last thirty years, Shakespeare criticism has demonstrated a growing awareness of the self-reflexive or metadramatic elements in his works. Lionel Abel’s 1963 study, Metatheatre: A New View of Dramatic Form, provided perhaps the first significant analysis of the ways in which Shakespeare thematizes theatricality, in the broadest sense of the term, in his tragedies, comedies, and histories. In his discussion of Hamlet, he makes the observation—perhaps a bit commonplace and obvious to us thirty years later—that the famous “play within a play” is only the most blatant example of self-conscious technique found throughout the tragedy: once w... [tags: Richard II Richard III Essays]
2813 words (8 pages)
- The Character of King Richard II in William Shakespeare's Play Shakespeare wrote ‘King Richard II’ in the 16th/17th Century, about 200 years after Richard was on the throne. His initial intent was to point out key factors within the Elizabethan monarchy. Queen Elizabeth was compared to King Richard because of her lack of an heir, her inclination towards heavy taxes and the indulgence of her favourites. Elizabethan critics viewed the play as being politically dangerous towards Queen Elizabeth’s monarchy.... [tags: Papers]
939 words (2.7 pages)
Transformation of Costume Selection and Incorporating Props into the performance of Shakespeare's plays of King Richard, Richard the II and Richard II
- Transformation of Costume Selection and Incorporating Props into the performance of Shakespeare's plays of King Richard, Richard the II and Richard III Performance of plays can take various shapes depending on the director's perspective of the text, the key element, within the framework of the play. In addition text can be interpreted different ways, regarding directing technique, such as style and action choices, and scenery decisions. These factors contribute to the overall result of the performance containing either conventional elements or having a contemporary twist.... [tags: Papers]
1052 words (3 pages)
- The Complex Character of King Richard II A general conclusion of most critics is that Richard II is a play about the deposition of a "weak and effeminate" king. That he was a weak king, will be conceded. That he was an inferior person, will not. The insight to Richard's character and motivation is to view him as a person consistently acting his way through life. Richard was a man who held great love for show and ceremony. This idiosyncrasy certainly led him to make decisions as king that were poor, and in effect an inept ruler.... [tags: Richard II Richard III Essays]
3453 words (9.9 pages)
- There are five female characters in the play Richard III. Of these five there are four central female characters; the Duchess of York, Richard's mother; Anne who later becomes Richard's wife; Queen Margaret who was the former queen and Richard's arch enemy and Queen Elizabeth, the current queen. The final female character who plays a minor role in the play is Queen Elizabeth's daughter, Elizabeth, but she is merely a pawn in Richard's plan and we never meet her. Each woman has a significant role in Richard III and is vital to the script.... [tags: five female characters in Richard III]
1428 words (4.1 pages)
- Why is Garden Scene included in Shakespeare’s Richard II. What does it contribute to the overall flow and development of the play. The Garden Scene (Act III, Scene IV) is an important and pivotal moment, providing plot update, allegory, exposition, and character contrasts. The Garden Scene is important for several reasons, firstly, it occurs between two scenes in which Richard, Bolingbroke, and others are present, but between which some time has passed. This implies a costume change, and this little scene provides just such an opportunity.... [tags: Richard II Richard III Essays]
1312 words (3.7 pages)
- Richard II - The Rape of a Nation By bowing down to the needs of his subjects, a king allows others to dictate his actions and hence compromises the essence of his power. Paradoxically, failing to heed the desires of his subjects transforms a king into a self-indulgent tyrant and propels his kingdom towards ruin and decay. Can a sovereign rule his subjects without considering their general welfare. If a king rules unconscionably, do his subjects have the right to replace him. William Shakespeare's Richard II considers this authoritarian quandary at great length.... [tags: Richard II Richard III Essays]
1426 words (4.1 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 Importance of Honor in Richard II The tension-charged exchange between Bolingbroke and Mowbray in the first scenes of Richard II provides exciting action for the audience, and gives a glimpse into trial by combat and the importance of honor in Shakespeare's plays. Trial by combat, or a judicial duel was a traditional way to settle disputes in England and Europe for many generations. People dueled to defend their own honor, and to prove personal claims against the honor of others.... [tags: Richard II Richard III Essays]
1763 words (5 pages)