• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Shakespeare portray the character of Richard?

Extracts from this document...


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Richard II section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Richard II essays

  1. Explore Shakespeare's presentation of Kingship in Richard II

    as opposed to governing them, which is presented as the true role of a King. Richard's choice to distance himself from his family and make an enemy of his cousin Bolingbroke is a critical error.

  2. "How far do you agree that we are moved to sympathy, even to admiration, ...

    Instead, he ponders in depth about his own misery, a man full of words but with no actions to undo his mistakes. The lack of accepting responsibility for the loss of his throne is further evident in his dying words, believing himself to be ascending to a throne in heaven,

  1. "By close analysis of the language, form and structure of this extract, discuss the ...

    This shows Richard's view of the situation to be not only highly morbid, but also utterly absurd. Yet it is likely that Richard says this in jest, albeit it attention-seeking and self pitying humour. Yet it seems that Richard's humour is not even to his own taste, but instead for the sake of others.

  2. What do we learn of the motivations & characters of both Richard & Clarence ...

    and "dead bones that lay scattered by" (line 33) are all symbolic representations of Clarence and Richard, and the contrast itself serves as a focal point for alerting the audience to remember that the murderers are coming after Clarence. Clarence is the early symbol of innocence or virtue in the play.

  1. Write about the dramatic methods used by Shakespeare to portray the character of Queen ...

    Shakespeare establishes Isabel's great love for her King, and her despair at his untimely demise. She is designed also to evoke pathos for Richard's character, the audience now see him not only as the usurped King, but also simply as a man who leaves behind a loving wife.

  2. Power and Betrayal in Shakespears Power and Betrayal.

    subject to his King, and promises to surrender his army upon the returning of the lands and title which Richard seized to Bolingbroke, Gaunt's rightful heir. Otherwise, Bolingbroke will wage war against the King. Henry Bolingbroke Upon his knees doth kiss King Richard's hand, And sends allegiance and true faith

  1. The Tragedy of King Richard the second - In what ways do the speeches ...

    He is not only showing the importance of religion in the play but also emphasising that it is terrible to kill a your own 'kinsman', i.e. it was terrible for Richard to kill his own uncle. In this passage Bolingbroke uses another simile to show again his beliefs in the

  2. How is Richard II portrayed in Act I?

    In Act 1 Scene 4 we see Richard in a completely new light, when Bushy informs him of Gaunt?s deteriorating health and the fact he is close to death, instead of feeling grief or any malice or despondency his first thought is of his inheritance.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work