Study Guide

Richard II

by William Shakespeare

Richard II Characters

List of Characters

King Richard II—King of England and grandson of the late King Edward III.

Edmund, Duke of York—Son of the late King Edward III; uncle to Richard II and Henry Bolingbroke and father of the Duke of Aumerle.

John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster—Another son of the late King Edward III; uncle to Richard II and father of Henry Bolingbroke.

Henry Bolingbroke (Bullingbrook), Duke of Hereford—John of Gaunt’s son and cousin to Richard II; later King Henry IV.

The Duke of Aumerle—Son of Edmund, Duke of York; cousin to Richard II and Henry Bolingbroke.

Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk—A nobleman who is accused of treason by Henry Bolingbroke.

The Earl of Salisbury—An ally of King Richard II who commands the English army when Richard is in Ireland.

The Earl of Berkeley—A nobleman and ally of the King.

Sir John Bushy—A courtier and favorite of King Richard II.

Sir William Bagot—Another courtier and royal favorite.

Sir Henry Green—A third courtier favored by the King.

The Earl of Northumberland—A nobleman who joins Henry Bolingbroke’s rebellion against King Richard.

Harry Percy—Son of the Earl of Northumberland who joins his father in his alliance with Bolingbroke.

Lord Ross—An ally of the Earl of Northumberland who joins in Bolingbroke’s rebellion.

Lord Willoughby—Another ally of the...

(The entire section is 445 words.)

Richard II Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

King Richard II

King Richard II, a self-indulgent and irresponsible ruler. He neglects the welfare of his country and brings on his own downfall. He is insolent in his treatment of his dying uncle, John of Gaunt, and greedy in his seizure of the property of his banished cousin, Henry Bolingbroke. To his lovely young queen he gives sentimental devotion. Being forced to give up the crown, he wallows in poetic self-pity, playing with his sorrow and theatrically portraying himself as a Christ figure. He dies well.

Henry Bolingbroke

Henry Bolingbroke (BOL-ihn-brook), the duke of Hereford (afterward King Henry IV), the son of John of Gaunt. Able and ambitious, and roused to anger by Richard’s injustice and ineptitude, he forces the latter to abdicate. Although as king he desires the death of his deposed and imprisoned cousin, he laments the death and banishes the murderer permanently from his presence.

John of Gaunt

John of Gaunt (gahnt), the duke of Lancaster, the uncle of King Richard. Grieved by the banishment of his son and his country’s decline, he delivers a beautiful and impassioned praise of England and a lament for its degradation under Richard. Angered by Richard’s insulting behavior, he dies delivering a curse on the young king that is carried out in the future.

Edmund of Langley

Edmund of Langley, the duke of York, the uncle of the king. Eager to do right and imbued with patriotism and loyalty, he is torn and troubled by the behavior of Richard as king and Bolingbroke as rebel. As protector of the realm in Richard’s absence, he is helpless before Bolingbroke’s power and yields to him. He bestows his loyalty on Bolingbroke when he becomes King Henry IV.

Queen to King Richard

Queen to King Richard, a gentle, loving wife. Grief-stricken, she angrily wishes that her gardener, from whom she hears the news of Richard’s downfall, may henceforth labor in vain. She shares with the king a tender and sorrowful parting.

The gardener

The gardener, a truly Shakespearean creation, unlike any character in Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II (1594), the source of much in Shakespeare’s play. A homely philosopher, he comments on the king’s faults and his downfall and is overheard by the queen. Tenderly sympathetic, he wishes the queen’s curse on his green thumb might be carried out if it could give her any comfort; however, confident that it will not be, he memorializes her sorrow by planting flowers where her tears fell.

The duke of Aumerle

The duke of Aumerle (oh-MEERL), the son of the duke of York. One of Richard’s favorites and scornful of Bolingbroke, he is accused of complicity in the murder of the duke of Gloucester. His father discovers a document linking him to a plot to assassinate King Henry IV. Aumerle outrides his father to King Henry and gains a promise of pardon, which is confirmed after the duchess pleads for her son.

The duchess of York

The duchess of York, the indulgent mother of Aumerle. She is frantic at her husband’s determination to report their son’s treason, and she pleads to King Henry on her knees.

Thomas Mowbray

Thomas Mowbray, the duke of Norfolk, an enemy of Bolingbroke. Accused of plotting the duke of Gloucester’s death, he and Bolingbroke are prepared for combat when Richard breaks off the combat and banishes both. Mowbray dies in exile.

The duchess of Gloucester

The duchess of Gloucester, the widow of the murdered duke. She pleads with John of Gaunt to avenge his dead brother and prays that Bolingbroke may destroy Mowbray as part of the revenge. York receives news of her death.

Bushy

Bushy and

Green

Green, unpopular favorites of King Richard. They are captured and executed by Bolingbroke’s followers.

Bagot

Bagot (BAG-eht), another of the king’s unpopular favorites. At his trial before Bolingbroke, he declares Aumerle guilty of having Gloucester murdered.

The earl of Northumberland

The earl of Northumberland, a strong supporter of Bolingbroke. He aids in the overthrow of Richard.

Henry Percy

Henry Percy (Hotspur), the son of Northumberland. At Bagot’s trial, he challenges Aumerle to combat, but nothing comes of it.

The Lord Marshall

The Lord Marshall, who officiates at the abortive duel of Mowbray and Bolingbroke.

The bishop of Carlisle

The bishop of Carlisle, a supporter of King Richard. Objecting to Bolingbroke’s seizure of the crown, he is accused of treason and banished.

The abbot of Westminster

The abbot of Westminster, a conspirator against King Henry IV. He dies before he can be tried.

Sir Stephen Scroop

Sir Stephen Scroop, a loyal follower of King Richard. He brings to the king unwelcome tidings of Bolingbroke’s success.

A keeper

A keeper, King Richard’s jailer, who angers the king and is beaten by him.

A groom

A groom, a devoted servant of King Richard who visits the deposed monarch in prison.

The earl of Salisbury

The earl of Salisbury, a follower of Richard executed by Northumberland.

The duke of Surrey

The duke of Surrey, a Yorkist and a friend of Aumerle.

Lord Berkeley

Lord Berkeley, a follower of the duke of York.

Lord Fitzwater

Lord Fitzwater,

Lord Ross

Lord Ross, and

Lord Willoughby

Lord Willoughby, supporters of Bolingbroke.

Sir Pierce of Exton

Sir Pierce of Exton, a savage and ambitious knight. He kills King Richard in the hope of a splendid career under King Henry IV but is disappointed, cast off, and banished by the king.

Richard II Character Analysis

Aumerle (Character Analysis)

Also: Duke of Aumerle; afterwards, Earl of Rutland

He is the duke of York's son as well as a cousin of Bolingbroke and King...

(The entire section is 419 words.)

Bolingbroke (Character Analysis)

Also: Bullingbrook, Henry Bolingbroke (Bullingbrook), Duke of Herford; afterwards, King Henry IV of England

Bolingbroke is John...

(The entire section is 1016 words.)

Mowbray (Character Analysis)

Also: Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk

He appears as early as I.i, when Bolingbroke accuses him of embezzlement and of murdering...

(The entire section is 288 words.)

Percy (Character Analysis)

Also: Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland

Hotspur's father, this Percy is usually referred to as Northumberland. He is a...

(The entire section is 246 words.)

King Richard II of England (Character Analysis)

He is the ruler of England and the title character. Early in the play, it becomes clear that Richard's view of himself and his office differs...

(The entire section is 1269 words.)

York (Character Analysis)

Also: Edmund of Langley, Duke of York

He is uncle to King Richard and Henry Bolingbroke, brother of John of Gaunt, and father of...

(The entire section is 325 words.)

Other Characters (Descriptions)

Abbot of Westminster
See Westminster

Attendants
In this play about kings, noblemen, and battle, there...

(The entire section is 2677 words.)