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MonkeyNotes-Richard II by William Shakespeare
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Notes

Richard II does not contain any battle scenes. Desertions and defections are conveyed through dramatic reportage. In this scene Bolingbroke has arrived in Gloucestershire and is on his way to Berkeley. By the end of the scene, Bolingbroke proceeds to Bristol to attack Bushy and Green. This scene is diametrically opposed to Scene 2, where the villains announce their plans and pursue their chosen course of action. Here, Bolingbroke has essentially assumed command.

Bolingbroke's character has evolved considerably. In the earlier scenes of conflict with Mowbray, Bolingbroke was a young aristocrat and a loyal subject, who accepted his sentence of banishment because he believed in the divinity of kingship. Now he is a potential political leader. He accepts Northumberland's compliments with a curt "Of much less value is my company / Than your good words." He is courteous to Northumberland and expresses just the right amount of gratitude to Northumberland, Ross and Willoughby for their support. It is easy to imagine him in the role of king.


Bolingbroke's camp serves as a contrast to Richard's side, which is ridden with problems of betrayal and defection. The conversation between Bolingbroke and his supporters reveals that they have pursued a difficult journey and are ready to continue further ahead. An element of heroic exploit enters the play. Henry Percy, Northumberland's son, is a young but dedicated supporter of Bolingbroke, who greets him with warmth. Bolingbroke suggests that his supporters will be recompensed for their loyalty and labors in the near future, when he becomes the king. He displays practicality and ensures loyalty by promise of a reward and when he rebukes Berkeley for addressing him as Lord of Hereford, shows his ability to command. He shows deference to Northumberland, Willoughby and Ross while he is actually making use of them. He addresses York respectfully, as "(his) gracious uncle." He handles the indignation and anger of York with patience, and appeals to the bonds of kinship to draw York to his side. He tells York that he sees the image of his father (Gaunt) in him and protests the rightness of his cause. This has an immediate impact on York. Perhaps most remarkable is the fact that although Bolingbroke kneels before York, he somehow demonstrates his own claim to kingship. At the very least, the audience is reminded of the precarious state of England's governance.

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