Important Notes Looking Ahead to Next Week: Short paper on Richard II due Monday, May 3rd, 2 pm. PST, uploaded to your TA in Gauchospace. NOTE: Short paper (2-3 pp) should be double-spaced, 1″ margins, and in no smaller than Times New Roman 11 pt (preferably 12 pt).

Richard II: From Ceremony to Farce, and Engendering Show

The Immediate Consequences of Stopping the Tournament in 1.3:

Mowbray is banished for life.

Bolingbroke is banished for 10 years (reverted to 6 out of sympathy for Gaunt).




And Bolingbroke, with his large army, arrives!

Richard, a day late back from Ireland, hears of desertion after desertion of his troops, and holds up with a few followers within Flint Castle (Wales).

! BUT Bolingbroke very soon returns !

by 2.2, at the end of the very scene in which his father, Gaunt, dies, and Richard seizes all Gaunt’s goods to fund his Irish wars, we hear that Bolingbroke has launched a fleet from Brittany (Northern France), and is headed for England.




Bolingbroke, 3.3.30-60, p. 63

Restoration of his citizenship and lands

The crown

To serve Richard as a true subject

He doesn’t fully know

A, B, and D


What does Bolingbroke really want?

A new order is coming into being in Richard II that cannot yet be articulated even by those launching it.

When Green informs the Queen that Bolingbroke has landed in England, the Queen responds:

So, Green, thou art the midwife to my woe,

And Bolingbroke, my sorrow’s dismal heir;

Now hath my soul brought forth her prodigy,

And I, a gasping, new-delivered mother,

Have woe to woe, sorrow to sorrow, joined. (2.2.62-66)

Foreshadowing the new unnamable Order—leading to the second half of the play

In Conclusion:


Bolingbroke is the poster boy for a new world order. But the image he presents is fuzzy, even to himself.


What is the character of the new order? How can it be named?


And what happens to Richard in this radically changing universe where the old Chain of Being values no longer apply?


Richard suffers a metaphorical destabilization of the old order in the language he speaks and is spoken about him: 3.3.61-70, p. 64

He then undergoes a literal, physical descent from the battlements to the “base court”—earthly being: 3.3.177-182, pp. 67-68.

On his downward trajectory from his high place as King, Richard comes to understand “Perspectural” destabilization:


He comes to see his ordered universe (ordered by the old concept of the Chain of Being) as itself a “mere” fabricated conceit, or maskedness.


He comes to see himself as mere story, a “representation,” increasingly open to interpretation.


And, in viewing his reign thus awry, he comes to see the grievous skull in the picture of his ordered universe (his own mortality); 3.2.144-77, pp. 58-59

Richard loses his sense of stable self, which is prelude to his losing


His place (King)


His name (speaking of himself in the third person, he says, “Must he lose / The name of king? A God’s name, let it go” (3.3.144-145, p. 33)


His very being, as he becomes at the opening of Act 4, “nothing” (l. 200, p. 81)

“Ay, no; no, ay: for I must nothing be”

“Ay, no; no, ay: for I must nothing be”

Can any of you type out in the chat a possible translation or connotation for the audience of the first words of this line (up to the colon)?

Possible interpretations of “Ay, no; no ay”:


Yes, no; no, yes

Yes, no; no I

I, no; no, I

I know no I

Ceremony Re-presented

4.1.1-90 (pp. 74-78) clearly evokes the gage scene that opens the play.


This entire scene, which occurs just after Richard is called in to official abdicate his crown, is left out of the BBC production

But what do you think is Shakespeare’s most likely purpose for inserting this second gage scene at this point in the play?

The Effect of Re-enacting the Opening Gage Scene

the second gage scene represents the structure of the first but brings out the element of show


all men are playing out a political game


oath-making becomes, in fact, farce

And the farce keeps being re-presented, as in the ridiculous scene put on by the Duke and Duchess of York for Bolingbroke in 5.3.23-145.

Bolingbroke’s comment about this “show”:

Our scene is alt’red from a serious thing,

And now changed to “the Beggar and the King”


The “farcical show” in Act 5, which Bolingbroke dubs “the Beggar and the King,” is a contest between a man/husband (Duke of York) and a woman/wife (Duchess of York) over the life of their son, Aumerle.

Remember, in the very first scene of the play, Mowbray says,

‘Tis not the trial of woman’s war,

The bitter clamor of two eager tongues,

Can arbitrate this cause betwixt us twain;

The blood is hot that must be cooled for this.

(1.1.47-50; emphasis mine)

Femininity is repeatedly linked to the idea of “show” or “mere” representation. Can femininity be associated with “show” or “mere” representation and still be empowering?



What powerful woman, who is a master of manipulating representation, stands “in the wings” of Richard II?

In Summary:

In the association with women or the “female,” both the old and the new world of “representation” and “show” (manned first by Richard and then by Bolingbroke) are diminished:

men : women : : ceremony : show


But women do have power in the new world (however farcical that power may be shown).


A description of the new world order could be thus:

It is a world where women are rulers of representation

(see Queen Elizabeth).

The Engendering Mind of Richard

We see Richard alone with only his mind in his final prison soliloquy (pp. 103-104; 5.5.1-66)


How would you best describe Richard at this point in the play?


A) Bisexual

B) Resigned

C) Master of language

D) Aware of his uncontrol of mind

E) In tune with himself

Richard’s ends his final monologue with an extended conceit of himself as a clock, ll. 48-60?

Looking back to our own beginning class on Richard II: How does Richard’s conceit compare to Elizabeth’s Rainbow Portrait?

see René Descartes’ Philosophy (1596-1650)