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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: November ::
Re: Richard II IV.i.236-41
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2578  Friday, 9 November 2001

[1]     From:   Paul E. Doniger <
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        Date:   Thursday, 8 Nov 2001 22:01:52 -0500
        Subj:   Fw: SHK 12.2563 Re: Richard II IV.i.236-41

[2]     From:   John Velz <
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        Date:   Thursday, 08 Nov 2001 23:09:51 -0600
        Subj:   Richard II as ?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul E. Doniger <
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Date:           Thursday, 8 Nov 2001 22:01:52 -0500
Subject: 12.2563 Re: Richard II IV.i.236-41
Comment:        Fw: SHK 12.2563 Re: Richard II IV.i.236-41

Emma Bull wrote,

> 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.

I don't know that "divine right" is quite precise enough. Perhaps we
should be satisfied with "divine appointment" to the throne of England.
After all, he suggests to Northumberland that his deposition from the
throne (his appointed place) will result in God's vengeance (3.3.85-90),
predicting the civil war to come. I don't see that this has a connection
with Richard's rights as much as it does with his proper place.

> 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 don't think Richard is a martyr, either. It seems to me he is more of
a tragic than a historical figure. The play is as perfect an
Aristotelian tragedy as Shakespeare ever wrote (a tragedy posing as a
history?). I don't agree, however that his flaw is that he "thinks he is
mortal." It seems to me, as I believe I mentioned in my last posting,
that his flaw is that he plays at being king -- that is, that much of
what he does earlier in the play is often a mere performance rather than
true kingly actions (like the very opening scene -- almost totally
ceremonial). He finally gets it during the abdication scene (the best
argument, incidentally, for not cutting the scene) after the broken
mirror / "shadow of my sorrow" business -- much too late to save his own
life.

Paul E. Doniger

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Velz <
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Date:           Thursday, 08 Nov 2001 23:09:51 -0600
Subject:        Richard II as ?

In re 12.2563--

Am a little surprised that no one seemingly has pointed out that Richard
claims hybristically to be a Christ betrayed by 12,000 Judases when the
real Christ only had one traitor.  Moreover, Richard is so far from
being a Christ that he is an Adam who has tended the Garden of England
badly and is driven into "exile" from the throne.  His probable sin
against his Uncle Thomas of Gloucester before the play opens is
characterized by Bolingbroke as Cain's sin against Abel see R2 1.1.104.

Cheers for Biblical allusions,
John

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