King Richard II
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A corrupt king slowly loses his grip on the throne in this first installment of the Henriad, Shakespeare’s group of four history plays. Richard II is a regal, well-spoken king, but he wastefully squanders his money, surrounds himself with bad advisors, and shows contempt for his common subjects. He does not feel the need to justify this behavior, as he believes in the divine right of kings: in his mind, kings are appointed by God, and so therefore no mere mortal can challenge them. Henry Bolingbroke, though, does not believe in Richard’s divine right. The king banished Bolingbroke from England and illegally seized his estate, and in so doing planted the seeds of the crown’s ruin. When Bolingbroke returns from exile, he stakes a claim to the estate that is rightfully his—and more. Richard’s grand theories, weak army, and specious words are no match for the wily Bolingbroke. With his politically savvy manipulations, Bolingbroke forces Richard to abdicate the throne. The faster Richard falls, however, the more sympathetic he becomes, as we witness him coming to terms with his own human frailty. Only one king can triumph, but our attention and imagination are captivated by two in this fascinating drama.
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Opening Lines (Experimental)
SCENE: Dispersedly in England and Wales.
SCENE I. London. A Room in the palace.
[Enter KING RICHARD, attended; JOHN OF GAUNT, with other NOBLES.]
Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray?
I have, my liege.
On some known ground of treachery in him?
Ratings for 'King Richard II' by Shakespeare, William