The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1067 Friday, 19 May 2000.
Date: Thursday, 18 May 2000 09:47:16 -0400 (EDT)
Allan, it's hard to over interpret Shakespeare, but Rubinstein may be
guilty of just that in his analysis of R18.104.22.168. York has just heard
the news that his brother's wife (the Duchess) has died, and that weighs
so heavily on his mind that he misaddresses the Queen as sister
(sister-in-law) instead of as his cousin (by virtue of her marriage to
Richard). His momentary confusion is understandable because Richard has
left him-as an old man- in charge of a kingdom that is literally falling
apart as he speaks.
If the puns Rubenstein's puns carry any currency, perhaps they reveal
that York is worried about "legitimacy" in a political sense-Richard's
actions in seizing Gaunt's lands are unlawful, and so are Bolingbroke's
actions in returning to England. In short, York is worried and
confused. As to the Queen being a whore, well, she is not presented
that way in the play, of course, but there is the English predisposition
to see French women as "whores," but I doubt that York, a kind man, is
BEFORE York enters, the Queen engages in a long, sorrowful lament that
posits that she carries the child of woe, which will be soon delivered.
That sorrow, or woe, is "impregnanted" within her by
Bolingbroke-metaphorically, of course. But she says this when York is
NOT present! So I'm not sure it bears on what he says later. Sorry not
to be of more help.