Student number: 12395856
“For sorrow ends not when it seemeth done.” In light of the Duchess of Gloucester’s insight, assess Richard II as a play about kingship.
In Shakespeare’s famous history, Richard II, kingship is a very prominent theme that can be observed throughout the play’s entirety. The play’s titular character is the centre of the play’s concern with this theme as he is used by Shakespeare to question the validity of kings and how they should behave. This essay shall examine how Richard II is a play that uses the embellishment of historical events and important figures to cast an inquisitive light on the authority, authenticity and actions of monarchs and their suitability for leadership. As we know, in the era Shakespeare wrote of, it was widely believed that royalty were chosen by God, and were seen as holy leaders bestowed a divine right. This play reveals the shortcomings of kings and allows for an examination of kings in relation to their people, their responsibility and their power. “Not all the water in the rough rude sea/ Can wash the balm off from an anointed king;/ The breath of worldly men cannot depose/ The deputy elected by the Lord”: (3.2.3) King Richard as a character comes across as naïve, arrogant and reckless in his power. He is so self-assured by his position that he truly believes he is a “deputy” of God. He obsesses over his image as perceived by his people and can submit to his jealously of the more popular Duke Henry Bolingbroke, his cousin. In addition to these unappealing character traits, Richard is also notorious for his exorbitant spending on lavish material things. Shakespeare’s general depiction of the character offers a negative portrayal of kingship if the position is treated with neglect as it is in this case. Amanda Mabillard says in her essay (Representations of Kingship and Power in Shakespeare's Second Tetralogy) that although Richard completely lacks political ability, he is an ordained...
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