What is the role of ceremony and ritual in Richard II?
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The importance of ceremony and ritual in this play is of course key to understanding the way in which the character of Richard functions. He is a character who appears to be so caught up in his kingly status, which is reinforced by the various ceremonies and rituals, that he suffers excessive pride, which is of course part of his downfall. Note, for example, the following quote from Act I scene 1:
Now, by my sceptre's awe, I make a vow
Such neighbour nearness to our sacred blood
Should nothing privilege him nor partialize
The unstooping firmness of my upright soul.
Richard believes that authority begins and ends with him. He swears on his own blood, and clearly believes himself to be the ultimate authority based on what he says. It is absolutely clear that the various ceremonies and rituals associated with the English crown have had the impact of creating a man who is so consumed with his own role and identity as king that he finds life intolerable when he has that role taken away from him.
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