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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: November ::
Re: Richard II IV.i.236-41
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2563  Thursday, 7 November 2001

[1]     From:   Brian Willis <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 6 Nov 2001 09:24:18 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2552 Re: Richard II IV.i.236-41

[2]     From:   Ira Zinman <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 6 Nov 2001 21:17:06 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2552 Re: Richard II IV.i.236-41 AND WS BEING PIOUS

[3]     From:   Emma Bull <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 07 Nov 2001 15:23:39 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2541 Richard II


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Willis <
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Date:           Tuesday, 6 Nov 2001 09:24:18 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 12.2552 Re: Richard II IV.i.236-41
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2552 Re: Richard II IV.i.236-41

I absolutely agree with Paul E. Doniger. The play is so concerned with
the state of being a king and all of the magic that that entails. I
don't necessarily think that he is declaring himself a Christ figure as
much as he is saying, "You are persecuting God's anointed chosen leader
of Britain." Of course, "God's anointed" sounds awfully close to Christ
figure, but I suppose in a way that was the whole point of the belief
that God himself had chosen the line of kings. Throughout this extended
scene, Shakespeare makes Richard struggle through metaphors to explain
to his audience - actors and groundlings - what a shattering event the
deposition of an anointed king really means. As Shakespeare is so good
at these things, it eventually becomes Richard's searching for his
identity. How can I be king forever if I have been deprived of my title
and crown? Who am I if I have to go from king back to "normal"? In that
way, like Christ, he is saying, "God, why must I become mortal and die?"

Brian Willis

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ira Zinman <
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Date:           Tuesday, 6 Nov 2001 21:17:06 EST
Subject: 12.2552 Re: Richard II IV.i.236-41 AND WS BEING PIOUS
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2552 Re: Richard II IV.i.236-41 AND WS BEING PIOUS


There is a great deal of commentary about how much of Scriptural
reference and meaning appears throughout the works of Shakespeare.  Was
Shakespeare pious?  It depends on your meaning, but I do believe he was
a spiritual person with some measure of elevated consciousness.  Read
Emerson on Shakespeare and many others since then.  In 1598, when Meres
first mentions the sonnets and Shakespeare's connection to Ovid, this
was not a casual observation.  One should look at Mere's Palladis and
the Preface to the reader in Goldings translation of Ovid.

The deeper meanings and interpretations in Shakespeare's works are not
often cited, but this does not mean they do not exist, or that the
author did not intend them.  To present a subject requires an audience
interested in reading or hearing it.

In presenting Shakespeare, I believe one should take a balanced
approach.  There are many levels of interpretations of many Renaissance
works. Look at Spenser's own comments on the levels of interpretation of
Faery Queen and Dante's references to the four levels of
interpretations.  There is room in Shakespeare for all to appreciate
from the mundane to the poetic to the esoteric.  Is it not part of the
beauty and awesome nature of this Genius of literature?

Ira

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Emma Bull <
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Date:           Wednesday, 07 Nov 2001 15:23:39 +0000
Subject: 12.2541 Richard II
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2541 Richard II

 In response to Jay Pollacks questions/ comments:

 >"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?

It is certainly an interesting and potentially fruitful way of looking
at Richard.  Making him into a Christ figure here is not so difficult,
but to produce a sustained reading would be a little more tricky...

> If he is a Christ-figure
> why does he fear his own death? Is he capable of dying a martyr?

Richard ardently believes in his divine right(or so he would have says),
he is the anointed deputy of the Lord on Earth.  Yet he is prone to
doubt and vacillation, so we must wonder if he truly believes that
heaven has a 'glorious angel' for every mortal enemy he encounters.
Richard's fatal flaw, I suppose, is that he sometimes thinks he is
mortal - he toys with his mortality, 'a little, little grave' in a
puerile, dejected manner, highly unfitting for a true martyr. In order
to call him a martyr, we must first be certain that he allowed himself
to be usurped.  If it was merely foolish blunder the term martyr would
seem inappropriate.

I cannot comment on the Catholic/protestant debate.  As for the sweet/
sour issue, is this not more to do with politics than religion?  It
seems to me to be one of Richard's many conceits, a way of rationalizing
his fate.  You would probably do well to think about the political
comment of the gardeners here, too - this has always seemed a crucial
scene for deciding the goodies from the baddies.

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