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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: November ::
Re: Richard II IV.i.236-41
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2594  Tuesday, 13 November 2001

From:           Emma Bull <
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Date:           Monday, 12 Nov 2001 16:24:05 +0000
Subject: 12.2578 Re: Richard II IV.i.236-41
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2578 Re: Richard II IV.i.236-41

Paul E. Doniger wrote,

> 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.

Surely this is what it means to have 'divine right' to the throne of
England?  To be chosen by God to rule a nation, and to be accountable to
nobody but God.   Richard believes no mortal hand can gripe his sceptre,
being appointed by God, none but God can remove him. Hence Richard's
prediction of catastrophe and divine vengeance after he is usurped.
Richard has lived his life as monarch by these principles, being
accountable to only himself and God, and upsetting a few people along
the way. Once Bolingbroke shatters these life affirming principles
Richard is stripped of his immortality.  If he can be usurped he is
mortal. I maintain that the realization of mortality is what finally
does for Richard.

Paul E. Doniger also wrote:

> 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

However I do agree with you here.  Richard is born to play a role, and
he does his best imitation of a king. I think because he feels insulated
by his belief in himself as God's deputy, he feels that playing king is
close enough to being king; this complacency encourages Bolingbroke to
progress from claiming his inheritance to taking the throne.  It seems
to me that whilst this is the background to his collapse, the
realization of mortality is the instance of it.

Emma Bull

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