Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0528. Saturday, 11 June 1994.
From: Gregory McSweeney <
Date: Thursday, 9 Jun 1994 16:43:28 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 'Richard II'
I know I'm wading into waters through which I can already see dorsal fins
slicing, but having just read 'Richard II' for the first time, I have a few
questions that I hope some one here will address.
First, there's an obvious polarization in the ways in which Richard and
Bolingbroke see the world; if Richard's world view is essentially poetic and
Medieval, is Bolingbroke's more pragmatic outlook therefore to be construed as
typically Elizabethan? Further, are their respective world views consistent
with the contrast between a belief in kingship by divine right as opposed to
inheritance of the title through bloodline? And how does this connect with the
image of Richard as the sun either ascending out of - or being eclipsed by - a
mass of clouds?
Secondly, the commonwealth-as-garden device is treated quite perfunctorily in
the background texts I've read; has the interpretation of this metaphor
remained more or less constant in this century, or are there recent variations?
Finally, there seems to be a textual refusal of the play to fit obediently into
its genre-slot; it is obviously a tragedy for the protagonist (if it is agreed
that that is Richard) - yet the play in its entirety is certainly a chronicle.
Must the two be reconciled? And in that vein, should the link between 'Richard'
and the 'Henry IVs' be considered only chronologically, or is there an
affective continuum I'm not seeing, due to my neophyte status?
Thanks to all who respond,