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MonkeyNotes-Richard II by William Shakespeare
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Act III, Scene 1

This short scene opens in Bristol, where Bolingbroke orders the execution of two of Richard's favorites, Bushy and Green. This is Bolingbroke's first public act, although he has not yet assumed the office of the king. Bolingbroke lists the causes of their execution to justify his action. He charges them with having "misled a prince, a royal king" and having caused "a divorce between his queen and him." They are guilty of poisoning the king's ears against Bolingbroke and are responsible for his sentence of banishment. While Bolingbroke was "eating the bitter bread of banishment" they "fed upon (his) signories," despoiled his parks, devastated his woods, and removed his coat of arms from his own property. In short, they have done everything to remove each and every sign of his nobility. Bolingbroke says that these charges merit death and he orders their execution. Both men welcome the "hand of death" and proclaim their loyalty to Richard. They are proud of themselves and show no signs whatsoever of repentance. Bolingbroke requests Northumberland to see that they are executed.

Bolingbroke then asks York to ensure that the queen is treated kindly. York tells him that a messenger has already been sent with Bolingbroke's letters to the queen. Bolingbroke, turning to the other lords, tells them that they will now set out for an expedition to Wales to fight Richard and Glendower.


Notes

The central episode of this scene is the order that Bushy and Green be executed. Bolingbroke has not yet assumed the royal office, but his order requires the authority of a king. This is his first public act after his return to England. He also shows mercy, a quality essential in a monarch, when he tells York to see that the Queen is treated properly. This scene helps Bolingbroke to grow into a true monarch.

In his indictment of Bushy and Green, Bolingbroke shows concern for public opinion. He says that he will read out a list of charges, which justify their execution so as to wash their blood from his hands. These men are guilty of creating an atmosphere that encouraged corrupt practices and they have tainted the young king.

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