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William Shakespeare

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Essay title: William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare often examines the personal transformation of characters in his works. His frequent illustrations of changing players most likely suggests that he is a true believer in the idea of people being able to emotionally grow. Moreso, the author essentially endorses the thought of developing humanity as a living being. Parallel to King Richard in Richard II, he illustrates many characters throughout his works whom undergo similar personal growth. Oftentimes these personal changes occur when a character suffers great loss in life. In this particular play these changes give the readers a chance to develop a bit of fondness in the once ignorant king. Most readers would normally accept positive changes within the mind and soul of characters. In Richard II, Shakespeare depicts the personal stages of King Richard. Ultimately, Richard is illustrated as one who finally embraces humanity, and, in turn, affects the readers’ final response to the ever-changed king in a positive way.

In the commencement of the play, Richard is an arrogant leader who simply wants the title of king, and disregards any civil duties he should be regulating. The reader response is collectively negative during the beginning acts because he is inconsiderate of others and does nothing to help the welfare of his own country. He believes that his god-given rights to rule place him above all others. With this mindset he rationalizes acts of ill-favored behavior and a lack of true monarchial control. As Henry Bolingbroke and Thomas Mowbray feud and hope to settle their differences in a battle, Richard initially approves of the idea. However, at the actual time and venue he calls it off after selfishly discovering if either man is killed it will threaten his personal well-being. He proclaims, “Wrath-kindled gentlemen, be ruled by me.” (1.1.152). This proves to be one of his first statements that allow the reader to view his belief in divine rights to rule, and that he simply loves the authority that has been given to him. Richard realizes that for either man to win, it would not be in his best personal interest. He proceeds to banish both Bolingbroke and Mowbray, which portrays his dismissive attitude. Thus, he does not want to actually deal with any occurring problems that he is supposed to, but simply hold the title of king and flatter his supporters (who are, in turn, out to overrule him). Being the pinnacle of hierarchy in his country, he does nothing to help with the problems that are arising. Instead of implementing ways to help people he pouts and whines, which obviously do not help the reader to respond positively towards him.

Another example of his belief in divine rights is shown by his repetitive reference to himself as “we.” Richard states, “We were not born to sue, but to command; which since we cannot do to make you friends.” (2.1.196-197). The “we” reference is merely the metaphysical expression for his office as king (essentially godlike) or both man and majesty fused as one. In the first act there are a handful of phrases where Richard’s name is juxtaposed by proceeding “God of Heavens.” This is to further reinforce the concept of his divinity as the King. Richard believes himself to be immortal and this is why his tainted decisions to sit back and do nothing result in personal destruction in the long run.

The King then intensifies his selfish ego by appropriating something very personal from Henry Bolingbroke. This not only angers many of those in the play, but creates angered emotions toward Richard as well. As John of Gaunt lies on his death bed discussing the future (Bolingbroke’s included) Richard seems to show little to no sympathy towards any of Gaunt’s wishes. Although the King decreases Bolingbroke’s banishment sentence he still proclaims his so-called entitlement to all of Gaunt’s estates and inheritance. Even though this should all go to Bolingbroke, Richard pays no mind to what is actually the right thing to do. In reference to Richard, the Duke of York states, “For all in vein comes counsel to his ear.” (2.1.4). In other words, he is summing up the king in one simple sentence: he is a selfish man who only cares for himself and not for the greater of England. This is probably the peak of the reader’s discontent towards the king within this play because they really see the core of his self-interest.

As Bolingbroke is clearly about to assume office (commanding the execution of both Bushy and Green) Richard once again sits back and does nothing, and presumes his divine rights will take care of everything. The Bishop of Carlisle reminds the king that he will have to do more than hope for God’s help, but he will have to take action himself. The Bishop tells Richard:

“Fear not, my lord: that

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