Enter KING RICHARD II, JOHN OF GAUNT, with other Nobles and Attendants .. Enter KING RICHARD II, with BAGOT and GREEN at one door; and the DUKE. the oxford shakespeare General Editor · Stanley Wells This page intentionally left blank the oxford shakespeareRi. Living Shakespeare. THE TRAGEDY OF. KING RICHARD II by. William Shakespeare edited under the supervision of. BERNARD GREBANIER.
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Synopsis of RICHARD II. King Richard II and his uncle John of Gaunt try to settle a quarrel between Henry Bolingbroke. (Gaunt's son) and Thomas Mowbray. In Richard II, anger at a king's arbitrary rule leads to his downfall—and sets in motion a decades-long struggle for the crown that continues in several more. Free site book and epub digitized and proofread by Project Gutenberg.
We are much indebted to his interpretation of the documentary evidence.
See 3 Introduction disorganized uprising was quickly put down and the Earl and several of his followers were later executed for treason. What can we learn from these tantalizing bits of documentary data?
What do they mean? At this point, importantly, they had no idea that any sort of intervention would take place the following day; Essex, however, and some of his closest associates, including some of those who had commissioned the play, had earlier met secretly at Drury House to plan an intervention. Indeed Essex himself had, over the previous decade, sought to vindicate ideas of aristocratic honour and thus to restrict royal power.
They planned this for some indeterminate future time maybe around mid-February , but the events of the evening of 7 Feb. Nevertheless, any attempt to sequester the Queen and compel her to do things she did not want to do could be seen as tantamount to treason. As for the role of the commissioned Globe performance, which has loomed large in interpretations of the play for decades, it now looks rather like a local and not terribly important side event.
Indeed, Leeds Barroll made this point many years ago, pointing out that there were no repercussions for the players, who were never regarded by the authorities as somehow in cahoots with the conspirators.
As can be seen from this narrative, the commissioning of the performance turns out to be a complex and ambiguous event, in need of careful interpretation. To understand it properly we need to imagine a group of lively young aristocrats, the sort of men who enjoyed going to the theatre and discussing the implications of what they witnessed, seizing on a play that they remembered, and bringing it to bear on their hopes for a better commonwealth. A performance of Richard II gave them something to think and talk about, a dramatic event with restricted though still real relevance to their hopes and expectations.
Moreover, the play they 1 Barroll, p.
But they must also have been aware that they could not be seen as advocating usurpation and regicide like that represented by the second half of the play. Thus the claims often made for the relevance of Richard II to the politics of the time need some adjustment. There is good evidence to suggest that readers and playgoers did regard the play as pertinent, but this does not mean that it played a decisive role in public life, and it certainly does not prove anything about the politics of the play itself or its author.
One of those interpreters was, of course, the Queen herself. And here we face the problem of how to construe her telling remark about Richard II and her apparent linkage of playing and conspiracy.
This is contained in a document from c. Such an eventuality is simply unimaginable. All the theatre companies presented their plays inside playhouses, and occasionally, if they were lucky, they received commissions to play at court or in aristocratic houses. The Queen is clearly speaking metaphorically. But granting that, she still seems to be referring to performances, though not necessarily the one on 7 February.
He, that is, busied himself playing out his own tragedy. She was, after all, getting old just shy of her sixty-eighth birthday , she had no heir, and was a lone woman albeit a supremely talented one in a nest of scheming male vipers. She had no illusions about her position, and she knew her history.
See as well Barroll pp.
The Tragedy of King Richard II by William Shakespeare [Craig, Oxford edition]
So her forebear, Richard, also without an heir though lacking her political skills, provided an image of extreme susceptibility, of what could happen to her if she lost control of her government. But was it? The short and unsatisfactory answer is, we cannot be sure. The question that immediately arises is whether that scene was part of the original play and was cut, or whether it was composed not long before the publication of Q4 and inserted.
While allowing for uncertainty, we think it likely that the full text as we have it was written all at the same time late — i. If the 9 Dec.
King Richard II by William Shakespeare
In the former, the text moves directly from the arrest of Carlisle to the Aumerle conspiracy at the end of 4. Introduction originally written— and that it was performed more or less intact throughout its history, though in the print version the deposition scene was excised.
Let us take these two issues one at a time. First, why do we regard the scene as part of the original play? The verse is more regular and less supple than in the later plays, there is more rhyme, more self-conscious wordplay, more parallelism and antithesis.
Here is a passage from the scene that illustrates all these features: bolingbroke I thought you had been willing to resign. You may my glories and my state depose But not my griefs; still am I king of those. My care is loss of care, by old care done, Your care is gain of care, by new care won.
The cares I give I have, though given away, They tend the crown yet still with me they stay. Another issue is the question of motivation. Why would this passage have been added at that point?
Moreover, there is little evidence of any other revisions. Another way to determine whether the scene was added or cut is to compare the sequencing in the earliest printed versions to that in the fuller text of This could be seen to support the contention that the printed book of Richard II was censored while the live performances were not.
If the text as we have it in Q1 is what Shakespeare originally wrote, then we have to wonder why he did not provide a fuller transition to the moment of conspiracy that marks the end of the scene. Certainly the rhythm of events seems truncated. While of course the scene could have been played in its diminished state, the skipping from one plot element to another gage-throwing, the arrest of Carlisle, the announcement of the coronation, and the conspiracy lacks dramatic punch.
If the scene had been barred from the stage, could we not expect some fuller and subtler stitching to prepare it for performance than what we get in Q1?
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We might also 1 F is superior to Q4 and no doubt derives from a more reliable manuscript— see Textual Analysis, pp. A question raised by some of those who challenge the notion that the play was censored is why, if it was, the deposition sequence might have been excised while the apparently more objectionable murder of the deposed king was allowed to stand.
A possible answer, as Cyndia Clegg has shown, is that the deposition scene gives prominence to an issue that was contentious in the s, namely the competing roles of Parliament and the monarchy. Indeed there is evidence to suggest that the ecclesiastical authorities who censored the press were stricter and more draconian than the Master of the Revels, who looked after the theatre.
Overall, our view of the public standing of the play in its own time may be summarized as follows. Whether Shakespeare sympathized with the goals of Parliament is not clear— he seems most interested in presenting an ideological struggle, theatrically embodied in the persons of his protagonists.
But in framing the struggle as he did, he would have been well aware that he was fashioning a position that had a political component, even though 1 See Gurr, pp. And perhaps the possible connection with Essex was one of the factors in their thinking.
The play, in fact, may be seen as posing a question about the relation between art and politics, especially an art such as theatre, where the public dimension is inescapably in the foreground.
Performing Politics In 2. Could he now have in mind the possibility of thinking about the rights of subjects themselves to stand up against their ruler when they think he is doing wrong? More hath he spent in peace than they in wars.
As the King grew into manhood, he consolidated his power and struck back, arranging the murder of the Duke of Gloucester at Calais in and then convening Parliament in order to legitimize further acts of revenge. But Holinshed is also clear about the violence and abuses on the other side. Holinshed is also interested in the relationship between the citizens of London on one side and the king and nobles on the other, and he provides numerous accounts of the organization and operation of the civic community of London.
He is a 1 The relationship between Richard II and its sources will be dealt with more fully below, pp. He also changes Holinshed in order to highlight the key relationship between power and legitimacy. In the play, an indubitably legitimate but incompetent and unpopular king is deposed by an able and admired rival who does not have a manifestly legitimate claim to the throne.
That particular focus necessarily brings into prominence the questions about authority, power, and legitimacy that had been variously debated over at least the previous hundred years. That does not mean that they contain political messages dressed up in period costume and iambic pentameter but that their political meanings are integral to the formal organization of plot, character, and language.
And because they are works of theatrical art, their political meanings are also, to a high degree, a matter of collective, active response— something that is produced by the text, the actors, and the playgoers working in concert.
Mullaney allows us to see the play more accurately and more fully as a complex, unfolding action intended to entertain, arouse strong feelings and make possible disciplined political thinking among a group of several thousand playgoers. He studied English history, reading more than would have been necessary to construct the plot of Richard II. In the play, he goes far beyond merely recounting the story, adapting multiple versions of the history of a formative struggle in early fourteenth-century England in order to frame questions of great resonance for people in his own time.
Given that, it is entirely appropriate to see the play as an invitation to readers and playgoers to think about precisely what York did not want to allow himself to consider: what is the nature and source of political authority and under what circumstances is it legitimate to resist or even to overthrow that authority?
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Hidden Shakespeare: A Biography, Amberley Publishing Ltd. Fotheringham, R. Jansohn, C. White, R. Gurr, A. Elizabeth I, Pearson Education Limited, Herbage, A Ed. Hertel, R. Staging England in the Elizabethan History Play: Fold and Fold, Yale University Press, McEachern, C Ed. Reed, R. Shakespeare, W. William Shakespeare: Smith, A. Smith, T.
King Richard II by William Shakespeare
Maitland, F. Spiekerman, T. Tanner, J. Constitutional Documents of the Reign of James I:Tilley L , pilgrimage is a recurrent motif in the play and in the two that follow it 1 and 2 Henry IV. More than many plays, Richard II can usefully be analyzed with the techniques of close reading at one time in the first half of the 20th c. For there is no rex where will rules rather than lex.
God for his mercy, what treachery is here! Smith, T. Richard is murdered by a follower of Henry. O, had it been a stranger, not my child, To smooth his fault I should have been more mild; A partial slander sought I to avoid And in the sentence my own life destroyed.
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