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How does Shakespeare portray the character of Richard?

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Michael Warden How does Shakespeare portray the character of Richard? King Richard II Coursework 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. Richard is presented , by Shakespeare, as being a man who pays more attention to his appearance rather than the duties and responsibilities of a king. Shakespeare also shows two key sides to Richard's persona: Richard's more weak and sympathetic side (seen towards the end of the play after his deposition as king) and also his rather cruel-hearted, more selfish side (his taking of Gaunt's possessions after his death, the banishment of Bolingbroke and Mowbray etc...) There is major contrast between Richard and Bolingbroke. Shakespeare shows the power shift between the king and the soon-to-be king. Bolingbroke starts with pretty much nothing and works his way up to the throne, whereas Richard is on the throne from the age of ten and ultimately goes from having everything he could desire, to having nothing. ...read more.


One major factor in the deposition of Richard, is his banishing of Bolingbroke. Whilst Bolingbroke is away, we see Shakespeare portray a more sinister and evil side to Richards character. This evil and sinister side is shown when Gaunt dies and Richard takes his possession, the possessions which rightly belong to the banished Bolingbroke. This in turn leads to Bolingbroke's rebellion against his banishment and his swift rise to power, and ultimately leads to him taking the throne from Richard. Shakespeare portrays many different sides to Richard's persona. One side is the very self pitying, self loathing Richard which we see at the end of the play after Richard has been deposed as Monarch and is pining away the remainder of his time within the Tower of London. Shakespeare use's a lot of repetition about time to show Richards discomfort at the time he wasted on the throne, time which he could have been using more productively but instead wasted it by listening to his disloyal flatterers, "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," Richard is repenting upon his waste of time and knows he cannot change the past. ...read more.


put on sullen black incontinent: I'll make a voyage to the Holy Land, to wash this blood off from my guilty hand: march sadly after; grace my mournings here; in weeping after this untimely bier." In conclusion, Richard is portrayed by Shakespeare in many different lights as to which all play an eventual role in Richard's deposition and his untimely demise. His main enemy in the play is Henry Bolingbroke, who contrasts Richard by acting the opposite of Richard, he listens to his advisors, helps put his the English people on the monarch's side, he doesn't waste time with flatterers and only listens to those who have England's best interests at heart. The play is controversial to the Elizabethan audience that would have seen this as it point out similarities between King Richard II and Queen Elizabeth's reign, their inclination towards heavy taxation, their lack of an heir and the indulgence of their favourites. In my opinion, King Richard II is an excellent play as it point's out that not every monarch is perfect, it has the historical background of Richard interwoven into Shakespeare's writing which helps to make a rather dull topic, a king's time on the throne, rather more exciting and enjoyable for the reader. ...read more.

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