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MonkeyNotes-Richard II by William Shakespeare
Act V, Scene 5

The scene shows Richard imprisoned in Pomfret Castle soliloquizing his present state. He ruefully reflects upon his fallen condition. He establishes a parallel between his prison cell and the world outside: "I have been studying how I may compare / This prison where I live unto the world." He says that the world is filled with people while he is alone in his prison cell. Thus the comparison between the two is apparently untenable. But Richard pursues the parallel further. His brain acts as the female to his soul, the father, and the result of the consummation of their union is "a generation of still-breeding thoughts" which people his world. Richard is alone for the first time and is thus confronted with himself as he has no other role to play. He "plays in one person many people / And none contented." The drifting notes of music being played outside his prison have a contradictory effect upon Richard, who exclaims, "This music mads me: let it sound no more." Music is a sign of love, and for Richard love "is a strange brooch in this all-hating world."


His soliloquy is rudely interrupted by the entrance of a sympathetic groom who had been one of his former servants. The groom reminisces about the past when Richard was the king. He tells Richard how hurt he was when Bolingbroke rode on Richard's favorite horse, roan Barbary, on the day of his coronation. The groom recalls having tended to the horse in the past. Richard loses control when the groom tells him that the horse carried Bolingbroke majestically on its back. Richard curses the horse that had eaten bread from his royal hand for its treachery but soon forgives it. A keeper enters and tells the groom to leave. He offers Richard his food. But Richard declines to eat it until his food is first tasted by the keeper, as is the usual practice. The keeper says that Exton, who has lately arrived from the king, has given him orders to the contrary. Richard loses patience and strikes the keeper. Hearing the keeper's cries for help, Exton enters with servants, who are armed. Richard perceives that they have come to murder him and kills the servants. Then Exton strikes Richard, killing him. Richard curses Exton before dying.

Exton repents of having spilled royal blood and laments, "O ! would the deed were good; For now the devil, that told me I did well, / Says this deed is chronicled in hell." He decides to take Richard's body to Bolingbroke.

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