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MonkeyNotes-Richard II by William Shakespeare
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Act II, Scene 2

The scene opens in Windsor Castle, where Bushy is trying to cheer Queen Isabel, who is saddened by the King's departure for Ireland. Isabel confesses that she feels the onset of some ominous event and that "some unborn sorrow" is approaching her. Bushy attempts to comfort Isabel by dismissing her thoughts as mere "shapes" and "shadows" of grief. But the queen is extremely troubled, and she cannot help being sad. She is in the grip of this "nameless woe."

While the queen and Bushy are talking, Green rushes in and confirms Isabel's suspicion that something dreadful is about to occur. He brings the news that the banished Bolingbroke has landed with his army at Ravenspurgh. Moreover, Northumberland, Willoughby and Ross have rushed to his aid. Green further informs Isabel that the Earl of Worcester has also joined the rebels after resigning his stewardship.

The Duke of York enters. He complains that Richard has gone off to Ireland at a time when his presence is of critical importance in England. He cynically remarks that this "sick hour" is the result of Richard's excesses, and now he shall have the opportunity of testing the loyalty of his so-called friends. A messenger enters with the news that York's son has already left and that he could not meet him. He then announces that the Duchess of Gloucester has died. York cannot bear the misfortunes any longer and gives vent to his grief. He confesses that he does not know how to handle the situation, and he wishes that he were dead. He issues instructions to dispatch the news of Bolingbroke's rebellion to Richard in Ireland. He further laments that there is neither money nor a strong army to fight the war and subdue the rebels. York feels torn between his duty to the king and his connection to Bolingbroke: "The one is my sovereign, whom both my oath / And duty bids defend; the other again / Is my kinsman, whom the King hath wronged . . . "


York and Queen Isabel leave, and Bushy, Green and Bagot are left alone onstage to discuss the state of affairs. They realize that Richard "stands generally condemn'd" among the commoners, and that Bolingbroke enjoys the support of the majority of the populace. They have always been close to the king and now fear the consequences: "Besides, our nearness to the King in love / Is near the hate of those love not the King." Green and Bushy decide to retreat to Bristol Castle with the Earl of Wiltshire. Bagot decides to go to Ireland to meet Richard and inform him of the situation in England. As they part, the three of them realize that this may be the last time that they ever see each other. They all fear that York will not be victorious over Bolingbroke. They go their separate ways.

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