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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: November ::
Richard II IV.i.236-41
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2541  Monday, 5 November 2001

From:           Jay Pollack <
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Date:           Friday, 02 Nov 2001 17:02:24 +0000
Subject:        Richard II IV.i.236-41

"Nay, all of you that stand and look upon me,
Whilst that my wretchedness doth bait myself,
Though some of you, with Pilate, wash your hands,
Showing outward pity; yet you Pilates
Have here delivered me to my sour cross,
And water cannot wash away your sin." (IV.i. 236-41)

This passage blatantly makes reference to the Bible. He calls his
half-conspirator's enemies ... "Pilates". This direct reference, shows
Richard II a very pious man at a time of pain and destruction. Does this
quote make Richard, himself a Christ figure? If he is a Christ-figure
why does he fear his own death? Is he capable of dying a martyr? Are
Richard's enemies praying to a different God than the Catholic Richard?
Is there a particular Judist in this play, or all Protestants Judists's
to God? These are just a few questions that I am reminded of in this
passage. In addition, the idea of "sour" continually comes up in
Shakespeare's "Richard II". Some things are referred to as being "sweet"
as in Act V. iii. 116. "The word is short, but not so short as sweet."
Richard, as a leader, is called "sweet Richard". Is everything
Protestant viewed as being sour? And Catholic sweet?

What is Shakespeare doing here in Richard II.

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