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Richard II - Act 3 
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Post Richard II - Act 3
Richard II, Act 3

Please use this thread for discussing Richard II, Act 3.



Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:33 am
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Post Re: Richard II - Act 3
I mentioned Bushy, Bagot, and Green earlier. Not realizing that two of them meet untimely ends in the beginning of Act 3

Back in Act 1, King Richard speaks to the Duke of Aumerle who has just returned from seeing Henry off to the borders of England. He then speaks candidly about his suspicions . . .

Ourself and Bushy, Bagot here, and Green,
Observed his [Henry’s] courtship to the common people,
Act 1.4

So Bushy, Bagot, and Green are the King’s 'yes' men who have been telling the King to keep watch on Henry because he's out schmoozing—stealing the hearts of the people. Something maybe Richard should have been doing.

Bushy, Bagot, and Green are: Sir John Bushy, Sir John Bagot, and Sir Henry Green. I don’t know if they're based on real people or not. I suspect not. Asimov says the three were originally hangers-on of Thomas of Gloucester, the guy who Richard had murdered before the action of this play.

“It was natural for Richard II, and for many another king both before and after, to seek for advisers among the lesser nobility or the middle class. Such men had no power of their own and therefore had to be intensely loyal to the king, for they had nowhere else to turn . . .

With Bushy, Bagot, and Green . . . there was no need for Richard to feel any uneasiness. They were country gentry with no power of their own and with full awareness of the hostility of the higher nobility. Only in King Richard could they find safety, let alone power, and only to King Richard would they be loyal.”

Sure enough, as soon as pendulum swings the other way, Henry Bolingbroke has Bush and Green executed. Interestingly enough, Henry blames the two men for poisoning the King’s mind and also for causing . . .

. . . a divorce betwixt his queen and him,
Broke the possession of a royal bed
And stain'd the beauty of a fair queen's cheeks
With tears drawn from her eyes by your foul wrongs.

There’s some major hypocrisy at play here because Henry ends up doing far worse damage to King Richard, actually making Bushy, Bagot, and Green’s warnings come true.

Bagot is the only one of the three who doesn’t get executed. Remember in Act 2, he tells Bushy and Green that the three of them will never see each other again and that he is running away to Ireland.

There are a couple of references to caterpillars here in Act 3. Bolingbroke refers to Bushy and Green as the "caterpillars of the commonwealth," meaning they're parasites who are devouring or destroying England. And we see the caterpillar metaphor used again later in the garden scene.


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Post Re: Richard II - Act 3
Here's Bolingbroke's full speech from this first scene in Act 3. Henry's anger is quite evident. But I wonder how sincere he is. Isn't he just paving the way to the crown? I guess one of the biggest questions in this play is whether or not Henry had the crown in mind all along, or did he initially just want to recover his father's estate, his rightful inheritance.

HENRY BOLINGBROKE

Bring forth these men.
Bushy and Green, I will not vex your souls--
Since presently your souls must part your bodies--
With too much urging your pernicious lives,
For 'twere no charity; yet, to wash your blood
From off my hands, here in the view of men
I will unfold some causes of your deaths.
You have misled a prince, a royal king,
A happy gentleman in blood and lineaments,
By you unhappied and disfigured clean:
You have in manner with your sinful hours
Made a divorce betwixt his queen and him,
Broke the possession of a royal bed
And stain'd the beauty of a fair queen's cheeks
With tears drawn from her eyes by your foul wrongs.
Myself, a prince by fortune of my birth,
Near to the king in blood, and near in love
Till you did make him misinterpret me,
Have stoop'd my neck under your injuries,
And sigh'd my English breath in foreign clouds,
Eating the bitter bread of banishment;
Whilst you have fed upon my signories,
Dispark'd my parks and fell'd my forest woods,
From my own windows torn my household coat,
Razed out my imprese, leaving me no sign,
Save men's opinions and my living blood,
To show the world I am a gentleman.
This and much more, much more than twice all this,
Condemns you to the death. See them deliver'd over
To execution and the hand of death.
Act 3.1


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Post Re: Richard II - Act 3
geo wrote:

So Bushy, Bagot, and Green are the King’s 'yes' men

Shakespeare gives a telling picture of the calibre of these 3 men back in Act II. The Duke of York, aware that his forces have become practically non-existent, manfully resolves to do what he can to defend the king. However hopeless the situation, he has determined to face it.
He issues his orders to Bushy, Green and Bagot:
"Gentlemen, go, muster up your men,
And meet me presently at Berkeley."

Even though they're men who have been made by the king, and who will be nothing without him, they ignore their orders and flee for their lives. I can imagine the contempt the Duke of York felt for them as he faced Bolingbroke's armies alone at Berkeley Castle.



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Post Re: Richard II - Act 3
geo wrote:
I guess one of the biggest questions in this play is whether or not Henry had the crown in mind all along, or did he initially just want to recover his father's estate, his rightful inheritance.

I find this section very confusing. In the speech you quote, Bolingbroke on the face of it is just berating Bushy and Green for being a bad influence on the king and causing the rift between the king and himself which led to his exile and losses. All of which fits in with the idea of Bolingbroke wanting to do no more than have the injustice removed. Everything he says up to his meeting with Richard fits in with this picture.
I don't understand why Richard didn't just grant him his rights back, and then continue to be king. Henry might not have made a move. Instead Richard just surrenders without being asked: "Your own is yours, and I am yours and all."
I'm going - "Richard, mate, shut up! What are you doing?" I mean he's only just said to Aumerle:
"Shall we call back Northumberland, and send
Defiance to the traitor, and so die?"

Of course that would have been silly, but the next option would have surely been, as the king, to grant Bolingbroke's suit. Instead of which he just crumbles and surrenders the crown. Whatever Henry had in mind, it would have been hard not to accept the offer at that point.
I guess what I'm saying is that on the evidence that Shakespeare gives us, Bolingbroke is really only intent on pursuing his rights, until the king offers him the crown on a plate.



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Post Re: Richard II - Act 3
jetsam wrote:
geo wrote:
I guess one of the biggest questions in this play is whether or not Henry had the crown in mind all along, or did he initially just want to recover his father's estate, his rightful inheritance.

I find this section very confusing. In the speech you quote, Bolingbroke on the face of it is just berating Bushy and Green for being a bad influence on the king and causing the rift between the king and himself which led to his exile and losses. All of which fits in with the idea of Bolingbroke wanting to do no more than have the injustice removed. Everything he says up to his meeting with Richard fits in with this picture.
I don't understand why Richard didn't just grant him his rights back, and then continue to be king. Henry might not have made a move. Instead Richard just surrenders without being asked: "Your own is yours, and I am yours and all."
I'm going - "Richard, mate, shut up! What are you doing?" I mean he's only just said to Aumerle:
"Shall we call back Northumberland, and send
Defiance to the traitor, and so die?"

Of course that would have been silly, but the next option would have surely been, as the king, to grant Bolingbroke's suit. Instead of which he just crumbles and surrenders the crown. Whatever Henry had in mind, it would have been hard not to accept the offer at that point.
I guess what I'm saying is that on the evidence that Shakespeare gives us, Bolingbroke is really only intent on pursuing his rights, until the king offers him the crown on a plate.


Hi Jetsam, It is confusing.It's difficult to assess historically what Bolingbroke's aims were and at what point the crown itself was his goal.
The seizing of Bolingbroke's inheritance was catastrophic for Richard. The king became increasingly hardline in dealing with enemies real and imagined.
The Duke of York reproves Richard for his illegal actions. I suspect Shakespeare is contrasting York with Bushy and and co. They are the self interested caterpillars who can not be trusted, and Richard is showing he recognises some real integrity in York in making him vice regent in his absence to defend his realm.
But it's now too late for Richard.
Bushy and co see that parliament both peers and commons are opposed to Richard.This raises the question of the validity of Richard's rule without parliament's consent.
York has a quandary. He accuses Bolingbroke of treason simply for disobeying the royal dictat of banishment. Bolingbroke protests the illegality and subversive aspect to Richard seizing his lands. York wants to uphold the divine right of the king but cannot gainsay the justice of Bolingbroke's case.
The tide has completely turned against Richard and York knows he cannot successfully defend Richard's crown and bows to the inevitable.
It's worth adding that after Richard seized the lands of Henry B. he also extended his banishment to being permanent.
He left Bolingbroke little choice but to act militarily if he was to recover his rights.
I suspect Bolingbroke could not help but see that the national mood was ripe to be rid of Richard as an unjust ruler and all events seem to conspire against Richard militarily.
Richard apparently saw that he was defeated and fled disguised as a priest of all things. Interesting choice here.
It seems he did not just resign voluntarily but when captured and held in the tower of London was pressurised to do this.
I doubt Richard could have just okayed the restoration of Bolingbroke's lands and remained king. By and large the country itself had had enough of Richard and events took on a life of their own, it seems.



Last edited by Flann 5 on Sun Jan 11, 2015 9:17 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Richard II - Act 3
Quote:
jetsam wrote:





geo wrote:

I guess one of the biggest questions in this play is whether or not Henry had the crown in mind all along, or did he initially just want to recover his father's estate, his rightful inheritance.




I find this section very confusing. In the speech you quote, Bolingbroke on the face of it is just berating Bushy and Green for being a bad influence on the king and causing the rift between the king and himself which led to his exile and losses. All of which fits in with the idea of Bolingbroke wanting to do no more than have the injustice removed. Everything he says up to his meeting with Richard fits in with this picture.
I don't understand why Richard didn't just grant him his rights back, and then continue to be king. Henry might not have made a move. Instead Richard just surrenders without being asked: "Your own is yours, and I am yours and all."
I'm going - "Richard, mate, shut up! What are you doing?" I mean he's only just said to Aumerle:
"Shall we call back Northumberland, and send
Defiance to the traitor, and so die?"

Of course that would have been silly, but the next option would have surely been, as the king, to grant Bolingbroke's suit. Instead of which he just crumbles and surrenders the crown. Whatever Henry had in mind, it would have been hard not to accept the offer at that point.
I guess what I'm saying is that on the evidence that Shakespeare gives us, Bolingbroke is really only intent on pursuing his rights, until the king offers him the crown on a plate.



Hi Jetsam, It is confusing.It's difficult to assess historically what Bolingbroke's aims were and at what point the crown itself was his goal.
The seizing of Bolingbroke's inheritance was catastrophic for Richard. The king became increasingly hardline in dealing with enemies real and imagined.
The Duke of York reproves Richard for his illegal actions. I suspect Shakespeare is contrasting York with Bushy and and co. They are the self interested caterpillars who can not be trusted, and Richard is showing he recognises some real integrity in York in making him vice regent in his absence to defend his realm.
But it's now too late for Richard.
Bushy and co see that parliament both peers and commons are opposed to Richard.This raises the question of the validity of Richard's rule without parliament's consent.
York has a quandary. He accuses Bolingbroke of treason simply for disobeying the royal dictat of banishment. Bolingbroke protests the illegality and subversive aspect to Richard seizing his lands. York wants to uphold the divine right of the king but cannot gainsay the justice of Bolingbroke's case.
The tide has completely turned against Richard and York knows he cannot successfully defend Richard's crown and bows to the inevitable.
It's worth adding that after Richard seized the lands of Henry B. he also extended his banishment to being permanent.
He left Bolingbroke little choice but to act militarily if he was to recover his rights.
I suspect Bolingbroke could not help but see that the national mood was ripe to be rid of Richard as an unjust ruler and all events seem to conspire against Richard militarily.
Richard apparently saw that he was defeated and fled disguised as a priest of all things. Interesting choice here.
It seems he did not just resign voluntarily but when captured and held in the tower of London was pressurised to do this.
I doubt Richard could have just okayed the restoration of Bolingbroke's lands and remained king. By and large the country itself had had enough of Richard and events took on a life of their own, it seems.





Pardon my having mostly just lurked during this discussion, its certainly well informed from you three.

Something that could also be considered maybe; the clannish nature of the Scottish border rule.
By that I mean the disputes between border control and its associated wealth, for instance The Percy family was cut out of Border Wardenship all together by Richard and Gaunt for reasons of mistrust and greed, (Harold Bloom describes Gaunt as a robber baron).
The Percy's want to be Border Wardens, which may be reason for their support of Bolingbroke, This Percy influence could extend to putting the idea of deposition of Richard in Bolingbroke's ear. (just an idea)
Then there's the Douglas clan, also cut out of Border Wardenship, (again the work of Richard and Gaunt), also a good reason for Douglas support of Bolingbroke, (again just an idea).
John of Gaunt is a vital part of the strangeness of the story, even though his is a very wealthy family, he is not very highly regarded as a military thinker, military honors go to his father and brother, (Both dead I believe) Wiki doesn't paint a very pleasant picture of him. (Gaunt) His interest is wealth for the crown and himself, hence cutting out both the Percy's and Douglas's, So why support the usurper? I think they understand the popularity of Bolingbroke, and have persuaded themselves to hitch to his wagon for access to border wealth in the hopes of deposing Henry 4 at some future date.(just playing on the same ideas).

The world hates a weak leader, but whats interesting is that its typically the people that surround a leader that contribute to the fall, success and failure rarely are entirely the result of a solo act.
One of the reasons I'm enjoying the plays is that its not just reading the playes themselves, its reading the history behind them as well. I've ordered a copy of George Macdonald Fraser's "The Steel Bonnet", even though it doesn't deal directly with the part of history we're discussing it does deal with Scottish Border History of the times, its seems like it might be a good read, also I'm just an enormous fan of the "Flashman" series of books.( sorry for the digression).

In reading act 3 I'm fascinated by the grace behind the horror of deposition.
Gardner:
And Bolingbroke
Hath seized the wasteful king. O, what pity is it
That he had not so trimmed and dressed his land
As we this garden! We at time of year
Do wound the bark, the skin of our fruit trees,
Lest, being overproud in sap and blood,
With too much riches it confound itself.
Had he done so to great and growing men,
They might have lived to bear and he to taste
Their fruits of duty. Superfluous branches
We lop away, that bearing boughs may live.
Had he done so, himself had borne the crown,
Which waste of idle hours hath quite thrown down.
























jetsam
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Re: Richard II - Act 3



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Post Re: Richard II - Act 3
jetsam wrote:
. . . I guess what I'm saying is that on the evidence that Shakespeare gives us, Bolingbroke is really only intent on pursuing his rights, until the king offers him the crown on a plate.

I get this idea as well. So instead of focusing on Henry's motives, let's turn and look at Richard.

So far, King Richard firmly believes his reign is endorsed by God and that only God can take it away. He says:

Not all the water in the rough rude sea
Can wash the balm off from an anointed king;
Act 3.2

He calls for God to come down and, if not smite Henry outright, at least make his life very difficult. Throw some heavy-gaited toads down, a poisonous snake or two. He speaks metaphorically in this passage and arrogantly. His belief in his own infallibility shows much hubris.

King Richard II
. . . Feed not thy sovereign's foe, my gentle earth,
Nor with thy sweets comfort his ravenous sense;
But let thy spiders, that suck up thy venom,
And heavy-gaited toads lie in their way,
Doing annoyance to the treacherous feet
Which with usurping steps do trample thee:
Yield stinging nettles to mine enemies;
And when they from thy bosom pluck a flower,
Guard it, I pray thee, with a lurking adder
Whose double tongue may with a mortal touch
Throw death upon thy sovereign's enemies. . . .
Act 3.2

I believe Henry does come with only the goal of restoring his titles and estates. But when push comes to shove, by subjecting the King to his demands, he ultimately makes a mockery of the institution. And Richard sees that the kingship now as hopelessly tainted, the divine rights of kings a false doctrine. Richard's whole world crashes down around him.

KING RICHARD II
O God, O God! that e'er this tongue of mine,
That laid the sentence of dread banishment
On yon proud man, should take it off again
With words of sooth! O that I were as great
As is my grief, or lesser than my name!
Or that I could forget what I have been,
Or not remember what I must be now!
Swell'st thou, proud heart? I'll give thee scope to beat,
Since foes have scope to beat both thee and me.
Act 3.2

I believe one of Richard's advisers tells him to give Henry what he wants and someday he will be in a better position to turn things around. But Richard wants nothing of the sullied and tainted institution. This has to be the most tragic moment of the play and we sympathize with Richard for the first time and hate Henry for what he has done. If Henry can dictate the terms of his banishment and restoration of titles and demands, the kingship means nothing any more. When Bolingbroke bends down on his knee in front of the King, Richard sees the gesture as empty and meaningless. He knows Henry can easily demand the crown as well, and so he gives it up willingly. It means nothing any more. If it seems that Richard has rolled over and given up without a fight, this is why.


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Post Re: Richard II - Act 3
Flann 5 wrote:
It is confusing.It's difficult to assess historically what Bolingbroke's aims were and at what point the crown itself was his goal.
The seizing of Bolingbroke's inheritance was catastrophic for Richard. The king became increasingly hardline in dealing with enemies real and imagined.
The Duke of York reproves Richard for his illegal actions. I suspect Shakespeare is contrasting York with Bushy and and co. They are the self interested caterpillars who can not be trusted, and Richard is showing he recognises some real integrity in York in making him vice regent in his absence to defend his realm.
But it's now too late for Richard..

Hi Flann,, as you say, Richard has already alienated much of the nobility, but seizing Gaunt's lands and titles was probably the last straw.

Taylor wrote:
In reading act 3 I'm fascinated by the grace behind the horror of deposition.
Gardner:
And Bolingbroke
Hath seized the wasteful king. O, what pity is it
That he had not so trimmed and dressed his land
As we this garden! We at time of year
Do wound the bark, the skin of our fruit trees,
Lest, being overproud in sap and blood,
With too much riches it confound itself.
Had he done so to great and growing men,
They might have lived to bear and he to taste
Their fruits of duty. Superfluous branches
We lop away, that bearing boughs may live.
Had he done so, himself had borne the crown,
Which waste of idle hours hath quite thrown down.

The gardener here shows that even a common person (the Everyman character) can see how Richard has squandered his resources, contributing to his own downfall. Ironically, he knows more than even the Queen. She is the last person to learn that her King has been deposed.


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Post Re: Richard II - Act 3
Flann 5 wrote:
He left Bolingbroke little choice but to act militarily if he was to recover his rights.
I suspect Bolingbroke could not help but see that the national mood was ripe to be rid of Richard as an unjust ruler and all events seem to conspire against Richard militarily.
Richard apparently saw that he was defeated and fled disguised as a priest of all things. Interesting choice here.
It seems he did not just resign voluntarily but when captured and held in the tower of London was pressurised to do this.
I doubt Richard could have just okayed the restoration of Bolingbroke's lands and remained king. By and large the country itself had had enough of Richard and events took on a life of their own, it seems.

geo wrote:
I believe one of Richard's advisers tells him to give Henry what he wants and someday he will be in a better position to turn things around. But Richard wants nothing of the sullied and tainted institution. This has to be the most tragic moment of the play and we sympathize with Richard for the first time and hate Henry for what he has done. If Henry can dictate the terms of his banishment and restoration of titles and demands, the kingship means nothing any more. When Bolingbroke bends down on his knee in front of the King, Richard sees the gesture as empty and meaningless. He knows Henry can easily demand the crown as well, and so he gives it up willingly. It means nothing any more. If it seems that Richard has rolled over and given up without a fight, this is why.


Thanks you two for working through this with me - I think it's worth the effort because because the story sort of turns on it, and it's a tricky area. I feel more comfortable with the issues now.
Flann, why the surprise at the priest disguise?



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Post Re: Richard II - Act 3
Taylor wrote:
In reading act 3 I'm fascinated by the grace behind the horror of deposition.
Gardner:
And Bolingbroke
Hath seized the wasteful king. O, what pity is it
That he had not so trimmed and dressed his land
As we this garden! We at time of year
Do wound the bark, the skin of our fruit trees,
Lest, being overproud in sap and blood,
With too much riches it confound itself.
Had he done so to great and growing men,
They might have lived to bear and he to taste
Their fruits of duty. Superfluous branches
We lop away, that bearing boughs may live.
Had he done so, himself had borne the crown,
Which waste of idle hours hath quite thrown down.

I really like the Garden scene - it makes a nice change of pace after the intensity of the preceding scenes and, like all good gardens, provides a place of refuge and reflection, a time for the audience to gather its thoughts. And of course the garden is such a wonderful metaphor for good and bad government, and this gardener is full of common sense and wisdom. He should be running workshops for underperforming monarchs.

The scene ends with the Queen cursing him before she leaves. His reaction is to plant some ruth in remembrance of her, for pity. A wise and kind man.
Taylor wrote:
I've ordered a copy of George Macdonald Fraser's "The Steel Bonnet", even though it doesn't deal directly with the part of history we're discussing it does deal with Scottish Border History of the times, its seems like it might be a good read, also I'm just an enormous fan of the "Flashman" series of books.

Ha - a neighbour just lent this book to my wife yesterday - I think he comes from that part of the world. It looked like a dusty bit of local history to me - I didn't realise who the author was. I'll have to take a closer look.



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Post Re: Richard II - Act 3
My wife read me the opening lines of The Steel Bonnets this morning. Nothing to do with Richard II, but interesting all the same:

"At one moment when President Richard Nixon was taking part in his inauguration ceremony, he appeared flanked by Lyndon Johnson and Billy Graham. To anyone familiar with Border history it was one of those historical circumstances which send a little shudder through the mind : the descendants of three notable Anglo-Scottish border tribes - families who lived and fought within a few miles of each other in the West Marches in Queen Elizabeth's time - were standing side by side.

Richard Nixon is the perfect example. The blunt, heavy features, the dark complexion, the burly body, the whole air of dour hardness are as typical of the Anglo-Scottish frontier as the Roman Wall. Take 30 years off his age and you could put him straight into the front row of the Hawick scrum and hope to keep out of his way. It is difficult to think of any face that would fit better under a steel bonnet."



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Post Re: Richard II - Act 3
jetsam wrote:
Thanks you two for working through this with me - I think it's worth the effort because because the story sort of turns on it, and it's a tricky area. I feel more comfortable with the issues now.
Flann, why the surprise at the priest disguise?

Thank you all for a great discussion. One last comment on Act 3 . . .

I get a sense that Richard abdicates as much as Henry usurps. As Jetsam points out, it is perplexing how the King behaves. He seems to lose faith so quickly that even those around him are confounded. I think you're right that the story really hinges on these few scenes where the King essentially gives up.

There's another speech that I think shows precisely where Richard loses faith . . . just after finding out that Bushy and Green have been executed, and Lord Scroope tells the King that the common people now recognize Bolingbroke as lord. This is where Richard uses the term "Hollow Crown”—the title of the BBC production that spans events in the four plays of the Henriad. He also talks much of death as he does later in scene 2.

KING RICHARD II

No matter where; of comfort no man speak:
Let's talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs;
Make dust our paper and with rainy eyes
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth,
Let's choose executors and talk of wills:
And yet not so, for what can we bequeath
Save our deposed bodies to the ground?
Our lands, our lives and all are Bolingbroke's,
And nothing can we call our own but death
And that small model of the barren earth
Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.
For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison'd by their wives: some sleeping kill'd;
All murder'd: for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
To monarchize, be fear'd and kill with looks,
Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
As if this flesh which walls about our life,
Were brass impregnable, and humour'd thus
Comes at the last and with a little pin
Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!
Cover your heads and mock not flesh and blood
With solemn reverence: throw away respect,
Tradition, form and ceremonious duty,
For you have but mistook me all this while:
I live with bread like you, feel want,
Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,
How can you say to me, I am a king?
Act 3.1

The above line stands out for me after reading Act 4 . . .
Tradition, form and ceremonious duty,
For you have but mistook me all this while:


There’s a phrase—all form, no substance—and I think Richard II’s reign has been like that. The patina of king washes off in this scene, even before he finds that York has “join’d with Bolingbroke” (which isn’t quite true).

After finishing the play, I would say the climax is here in Act 3. The rest of the play is all a bit of housekeeping and setting the stage for Henry IV, Part 1.


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Post Re: Richard II - Act 3
I think you hit the nail on the head with this comment about Richard's reign and his loss of faith, Geo. This is where the scales fall from his eyes and he finally understands.

This speech is really something; there are a couple of wonderful passages in it - for instance this melancholy meditation on kingship:

"For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison'd by their wives: some sleeping kill'd;
All murder'd "

- Richard will be murdered of course, and Bolingbroke will be haunted by the ghost he has deposed, always yearning to go on the pilgrimage to Jerusalem that will redeem him, but never able to.

And then there is the wonderful macabre imagery of the hollow crown passage:

"... for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
To monarchize, be fear'd and kill with looks,
Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
As if this flesh which walls about our life,
Were brass impregnable, and humour'd thus
Comes at the last and with a little pin
Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!"

I get the feeling that you're wrapping things up here, but before we close, there are a couple of short passages in Richard's long soliloquy in Act 5 I'd like to note.

Firstly a riff on the sentiments expressed in the classic Rolling Stones track "Satisfaction" - one of the enduring dilemmas of the human condition:

"... but whate'er I be,
Nor I nor any man that but man is
With nothing shall be pleased, till he be eased
With being nothing."

And secondly, hearing music being played (obviously not very well) he turns it to a bitter-sweet comment on his own failings as king:

"Ha, ha! keep time: how sour sweet music is,
When time is broke and no proportion kept!
So is it in the music of men's lives.
And here have I the daintiness of ear
To check time broke in a disorder'd string;
But for the concord of my state and time
Had not an ear to hear my true time broke.
I wasted time, and now doth time waste me;"

Locked up in Pomfret Castle, time wasted him indeed, but not for long ...

Thanks Geo for leading this discussion - I really enjoyed it. It seems you can have a good discussion with a small number of people. Thanks also to Flann, and to Taylor as well.

Now I too am off to watch The Hollow Clown.



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Post Re: Richard II - Act 3
Great roundup, jetsam. This has been a great discussion and I thank everyone. I think Shakespeare plays do lend themselves nicely to online discussion. Maybe we can do another one in the near future.


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