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MonkeyNotes-Richard II by William Shakespeare
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Act III, Scene 3

This scene moves to Flint Castle in Wales, where Richard has taken refuge. Bolingbroke appears before the castle with York, Northumberland and his army. Henry Percy, Northumberland's son, who had been sent into the castle, comes back with the news that Richard is inside along with Aumerle, Lord Salisbury, Sir Stephen Scroop and the Bishop of Carlisle. Bolingbroke asks Northumberland to tell Richard that he wishes to speak to him. He offers to lay his "arms and power" at his feet on the condition that his banishment is repealed and the lands and money belonging to him are returned. If Richard denies this appeal, Bolingbroke will be forced to use "the advantage of (his) power, / And lay the summer's dust with showers of blood / Rain'd from the wounds of slaughter'd Englishmen."

While Northumberland goes to convey Bolingbroke's message, the rest of Bolingbroke's party wait on the grassy plain surrounding the castle. Bolingbroke recognizes Richard on the walls of the castle. Harry Percy describes Richard's appearance as that of " the blushing discontented sun / From out the fiery portal of the east, / When he perceives the envious clouds are bent / To dim his glory." York also observes him and comments on his regal bearing and "controlling majesty." He expresses regret "that any harm should stain so fair a show."


When Northumberland approaches Richard, he is rebuked for not bending his knee as a mark of respect. Richard wonders whether "the hand of God" has "dismissed (him) from (his) stewardship." He warns Northumberland not to think that he has been deserted by his friends, since his master, God, is "mustering in his clouds" armies of pestilence on his behalf which will strike the rebels. He tells Northumberland to convey to Bolingbroke that every step that he takes upon his land constitutes "dangerous treason." Northumberland attempts to calm Richard by asserting that Bolingbroke has not come to depose Richard, but seeks only the restitution of the property that lawfully belongs to him: "His coming hither hath no further scope / Than for his lineal royalties and to beg / Enfranchisement immediate on his knees." Richard agrees to Bolingbroke's demands, but then he asks Aumerle whether he should call Northumberland back and send a challenge to Bolingbroke. Aumerle advises him against it, since it would be wiser to "fight with gentle words," which would lend them time to gather allies and strengthen their forces. Richard sinks into despair as he compares his present helplessness with his past glory. When Richard sees Northumberland coming back after meeting Bolingbroke, he changes to a self-deprecating tone. He then relinquishes his position as king by offering to give up some of the objects that symbolize this power: the jewels, his palace, the goblets, his sceptre.

Richard then refers to Henry as "King Bolingbroke" and asks Northumberland whether "his Majesty (will) / Give Richard leave to live till Richard die?" Northumberland tells Richard that Bolingbroke is waiting down on the grassy plain to meet him. Richard realizes that nothing can save him now. He exclaims, "Down, down I come; like glistering Phaethon," making a reference to the son of the sun god, who tried to drive his father's chariot and put the earth in jeopardy. Bolingbroke greets Richard as "My gracious Lord" and kneels before him, but Richard tells him to rise. Bolingbroke says that he has come only for what lawfully belongs to him. Richard simply says, "Your own is yours, and I am yours, and all." He asks Bolingbroke whether they should set out for London. When Bolingbroke answers in the affirmative, Richard agrees. The question of kingship will be resolved there.

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