Richard II (Vol. 91)
For further information on the critical and stage history of Richard II, see SC, Volumes 6, 24, 39, 52, 58, 70, and 81.
Literary scholars generally agree that Shakespeare wrote Richard II sometime during the mid-1590s. Although the 1597 quarto classifies the drama as a tragedy, it is in fact the first in a sequence of history plays commonly known as the second tetralogy. These four plays—comprising Richard II, Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, and Henry V—trace the advent of the Lancastrian dynasty in English royal politics, beginning with Henry Bolingbroke's usurpation of Richard II's crown. Unhappy with Richard's incompetence as a ruler, a number of nobles rally around Bolingbroke. They force the anointed king to abdicate, and Bolingbroke is crowned as Henry IV. Imprisoned at Pomfret Castle, Richard progresses from an offensive villain to a sympathetic victim as he poetically contemplates the meaning of his fall from grandeur. Recent critics have probed such topics as how Shakespeare's poetic language shapes the characters of Richard and Bolingbroke; the playwright's ambivalent attitude toward deposing a divinely appointed hereditary king by a Machiavellian manipulator; and how elements of the carnivalesque highlight the key political themes in the play. A number of critics have also analyzed Shakespeare's dramatic treatment of women in Richard II, demonstrating how feminine voices defy proscribed roles at key junctures in the play to challenge the policies of the patriarchal system.
Many critical studies have probed the political dynamics of Richard II, analyzing how the characters of Richard and Bolingbroke reflect their competing ideological concerns. According to Tim Spiekerman (2001), poetry, ultimately, is Richard's weapon. Deposed, Richard tries to fathom meaning from his suffering and through poetry as he attempts to write his own tragedy. Allan Bloom (1981) contends that Shakespeare presents Richard in the worst possible light, to the point that his tyrannical actions make him an implicit accomplice in Bolingbroke's rise to power. Paradoxically, says Bloom, Shakespeare presented the “divine right of kings” concept as the underpinning of Richard's rule and the cause of his tyranny. Richard behaves in a corrupt and tyrannical fashion because he can; since God's ways are inscrutable, he is above earthly reproach. William O. Scott (2002) argues that Shakespeare situated Richard's divine right position within a complicated economic system of landholding, leasing, and tenancy. For Scott, Richard's misuse of the realm—he sells portions off to the highest bidder—compromises his hereditary divine right claim to the monarchy. Contrarily, Louise Cowan (see Further Reading) does not believe that Shakespeare advanced the divine right theory; rather, she speaks of a hereditary king who, even though he is deposed, is still covered by God's anointment. Bolingbroke may depose Richard and rule in his stead and even have him murdered, but he will never achieve Richard's divinely appointed status. Ralph Berry (1999) maintains that Richard is a tragic character, and tragedy needs accomplices. Berry therefore views the protagonist of the drama as Richard-with-Bolingbroke, insisting that the two rulers are forever bound together and share a psychic connection. Hugh Grady (see Further Reading) argues that such a connection can be found in the fact that both men are Machiavels. However, Richard proves to be no match for the political stratagems of Bolingbroke. According to Grady, Richard becomes a political manqué who has forgotten Machiavelli's requirement that a real prince's power-grabbing behavior must be hidden behind a veneer of pretended virtue and rectitude.
Modern critical analyses of Richard II have centered on the play's language and cultural setting to elucidate its central themes. Nicholas Potter (1994) contends that the play's language is full of the sense of elegant ceremony and characterizes it as having “a static, poised quality of equilibrium, symmetry.” By contrast, Spiekerman categorizes Richard's language as grandiose and insists that Richard is a better poet than a politician as his language is replete with dazzling images and metaphors. Cowan considers Richard the last of the medieval kings whose language fits his world: ceremonial, chivalric, poetic. Bolingbroke, Cowan insists, is pragmatic, modern and competitive, qualities that are reflected in his language. For these critics, it is the contrary personalities of these two main characters that best exemplify the play's dramatic themes. Potter likens England under Richard to a present-day emerging nation with the choice of two extreme ideologies: the “golden crown” of Richard or the “shrewd steel” of Bolingbroke. Neither metaphor, argues Potter, touches the plight of the common man. Another prominent aspect of recent critical inquiry has featured the examination of Richard II within the context of festivity and the carnivalesque. David Ruiter (2003) maintains that Richard's aloof governance does not take into account the community's need for festivity, whereas Bolingbroke cleverly associates his ascension to the throne with holiday and community in order to garner support from the masses. The critic notes that Richard becomes, in his own words, a “mockery king,” vilified by the common folk who were deprived of holiday release during his reign. Further, Ruiter contends, Richard's monarchy becomes synonymous with that of the King of Misrule, a temporarily appointed carnival ruler whose deeds and actions contradict the status quo. With the ascent of Bolingbroke to the English throne, Ruiter concludes, the community is reunited and order is restored. Like Ruiter, Martha Kurtz (1996) discusses Richard II in relation to the carnivalesque, positing that laughter corresponds to the personalities of Richard and Bolingbroke. According to the critic, Richard's laughter, laced with arrogant elitism and mockery, signifies an aristocratic insecurity which culminates in his deposition; by contrast, Bolingbroke embraces the carnivalesque, popular laughter of the common man to establish political order after usurping the crown.
Richard II has always been popular in theatrical production. Both the complex character of the protagonist and the universality of theme have given directors great latitude in interpreting the play. In 1995 director Deborah Warner sparked a critical controversy when she cast Fiona Shaw in the lead role of Richard II at London's National Theatre. While they acknowledge that the king possessed many effeminate characteristics, reviewers nevertheless assert that Warner's gender-altering conception was textually untenable and nothing more than a theatrical stunt. Despite offending the aesthetic sensibilities of Shakespeare purists, Shaw's performance was the highlight of the production. In the estimation of John Mullan (1995), Shaw's Richard was “always interesting” and “sometimes brilliant.” Tim Carroll's all-male Elizabethan production of Richard II at London's Globe Theatre in 2003 stood in stark contrast to Warner's feminized staging. Richard Wilson (2003) reminds readers in his review that the original Globe was the setting of a performance of Richard II put on by the rebels the night before the Essex Rebellion, underscoring the political danger implicit in the play. Wilson singles out Mark Rylance's absorbing portrayal of Richard, describing it as the essence of “messianic self-belief.” Charles Isherwood (2003) praises Carroll's “assured and affecting” direction, particularly admiring the poignant intimacy of Rylance's direct addresses to the audience. To inaugurate the Royal Shakespeare Company's celebration of the millennium through the production of Shakespeare's eight English history plays in chronological order from Richard II to Richard III, Steven Pimlott staged Richard II at Stratford-upon-Avon's The Other Place in 2000. Discerning contemporary parallels between Shakespeare's examination of kingship in his play and the toppling of numerous modern totalitarian regimes, Pimlott presented Richard II in modern dress on a stark white stage. Indeed, Michael Billington (2000) likens the set design to “a space resembling a white-walled squash-court or science lab: a perfect setting for this masterly dissection of kingship.” Sam West received accolades for his portrayal of Richard. Alastair Macaulay deems it “marvellous in its blend of intelligence and modesty.” That same year, Jonathan Kent revived Richard II at the Gainsborough Studios in London, before taking the production on tour to New York's Harvey Theater. Vastly different from Pimlott's contemporary reading, Kent's staging instead opted to emphasize the historical context, presenting Shakespeare's play in its traditional medieval milieu. Further, with Ralph Fiennes performing the lead role, the production became essentially a star vehicle for the celebrated film actor. Despite Fiennes's overwhelming appeal with theatergoers, reviewers were divided on the merits of his performance. On the one hand, Susannah Clapp (see Further Reading) praises Fiennes's portrayal as “always intelligent and always interesting”; on the other, Nigel Saul (2000) argues that “[this] is a one-level performance. Fiennes's Richard does not grow or develop. No sense is conveyed of him becoming more self-aware.”
Criticism: Overviews And General Studies
SOURCE: Potter, Nicholas. “‘Like to a tenement or pelting farm’—Richard II and the Idea of the Nation.” In Shakespeare in the New Europe, edited by Michael Hattaway, Boika Sokolova, and Derek Roper, pp. 130-47. Sheffield, U.K.: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994.
[In the following essay, Potter likens England under Richard II to a present-day emerging nation with the choice of two competing ideologies: the masculine “shrewd steel” of Bolingbroke or the feminine “golden crown” of Richard. Neither metaphor, Potter argues, speaks to the middle ground and the plight of the common man.]
Perhaps the most pressing question facing not only the countries struggling to emerge from the ruins of what once was the Eastern Bloc but also the countries of the old Europe, is the question of nationhood. The most frightening and disgusting elements of nationalistic feeling were not slow to take advantage of the uncertainty that characterized the first moments of new countries after the success of the various popular fronts in first challenging and then overthrowing the old regimes. However, as Ralf Dahrendorf remarks in Reflections on the Revolution in Europe,1 ‘“we the people” can rise against an abhorrent regime of exploitation and suppression, but “we the people” cannot govern’. The problem facing the new countries of Europe is precisely the problem of the basis of...
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SOURCE: Spiekerman, Tim. “King Richard II.” In Shakespeare's Political Realism: The English History Plays, pp. 59-90. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001.
[In the following essay, Spiekerman maintains that Shakespeare questioned the institution of hereditary monarchy in Richard II, positing that Bolingbroke represents a rational and politically superior—if not entirely legitimate—alternative to a tyrannical hereditary ruler.]
In King John, Shakespeare dramatized a political crisis brought on by a legitimacy dispute, which pitted the sitting king against the legitimate pretender and his French allies. The crisis was exacerbated by the worldly ambitions of the pope, who had his own designs on England. One hundred sixty-one years later, the man who possesses the English throne, King Richard II, is undeniably legitimate.1 And like the pope who plagued King John, Richard derives his authority directly from God. But Richard's double right to rule—both hereditary and divine—does not eliminate competition for the throne: he is challenged at the beginning of the play and murdered by the end.
Calling himself “an anointed king,” “the deputy elected by the Lord” (III.ii.55, 57), King Richard is Shakespeare's only portrait of a divine right king. John Figgis, author of the definitive study of divine right, traces the genesis of this...
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Criticism: Character Studies
SOURCE: Bloom, Allan. “Richard II.” In Shakespeare as Political Thinker, edited by John Alvis and Thomas G. West, pp. 51-61. Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 1981.
[In the following essay, Bloom traces Richard's downfall from divine-right king and discusses its political consequence for him and his successor, Bolingbroke.]
Shakespeare not only presents us with the spectacle of a man becoming a god (Julius Caesar) but in Richard II also permits us to witness a god becoming a man. As a consequence of what one might call political logic, Richard was thought to be, and thought himself to be, somehow divine: to have the right and the capacity to rule men a king ought to have a superior nature, must be a god or the representative of a god; because he must be, he is. The play tells the tale of Richard's unkinging and his agony as he faces the human condition for the first time.
Richard II is also the tale of Henry Bolingbroke's grasping of the crown and thereby his loss of innocence. He thought he would purge the throne of a stain left on it by Richard's having committed the sin of Cain, but he is constrained to commit the same sin in order to found his rule. Instead of becoming a god, he becomes a murderer. The king he became could never be the king Richard was.
Thus these two tales join to tell a third tale, that of kingship in its divine...
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SOURCE: Berry, Ralph. “The Tragedy of Richard II.” In Tragic Instance: The Sequence of Shakespeare's Tragedies, pp. 73-9. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1999.
[In the following essay, Berry comments on role-playing in Richard II, noting that Richard embraces the role of martyr-king while Bolingbroke accepts the complementary role of guilty usurper.]
Tragedy seeks explanations. Always they are withheld. The dark collusion between protagonist and fate has a core which the dramatist may gesture toward, but not reveal. Some kind of account is given, often a mere recoil into banality. “For never was a story of more woe / Than this of Juliet and her Romeo” doesn't tell us much we didn't know. The protagonist needs intelligence and self-awareness even to go near an explanation. Possessing both, like Hamlet, he may prefer to keep quiet. Coriolanus, who has neither, can find nothing better than
O world, thy slippery turns! Friends now fast sworn, Whose double bosoms seem to wear one heart, Whose hours, whose bed, whose meal and exercise Are still together, who twin, as 'twere, in love Unseparable, shall within this hour, On a dissension of a doit, break out To bitterest enmity; so fellest foes, Whose passions and whose plots have broke their sleep To take the one the other, by some chance, Some trick not worth an egg, shall grow dear friends And interjoin their issues. So...
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Criticism: Production Reviews
SOURCE: Mullan, John. “Privilege of Gender.” Times Literary Supplement (16 June 1995): 22.
[In the following review, Mullen commends Deborah Warner's 1995 Cottesloe Theatre production of Richard II, which, the critic contends, emphasized the ritualistic ceremony of Shakespeare's drama. In addition, Mullan praises Fiona Shaw's Richard as “always interesting” and “sometimes brilliant.”]
Most of the publicity for this production has been stirred by the casting of Fiona Shaw in the title role. Getting its retaliation in first against those who might object, the programme brandishes some “quotes” chosen to alert us to the appropriateness of a woman acting as king. Yet despite its assurances that nineteenth-century theatre-goers thought nothing of a woman playing Hamlet or Iago, and its sternness about “the modern sense of this cross-dressed portrayal as a stunt or trick”, Deborah Warner's production relies on our sense of oddness of the choice. The director has called Richard “feminine”, and there is a good deal in this: his distance from and distaste for other characters' displays of manliness; his fanciful way with words, often puzzling to the men of action and politics who listen. Her identification of his unmanliness as that which disturbs those around him, and thus the realm itself, is entirely reasonable. Translating this into the casting of a woman in his part, and...
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SOURCE: Billington, Michael. “From Tyrant to Martyr.” Guardian (1 April 2000): 4.
[In the following review, Billington appraises Steven Pimlott's 2000 Royal Shakespeare Company production of Richard II, focusing on how its stark setting created a contemporary mood that underscored the universal relevance of the play.]
A great adventure has begun. Over the next year the Royal Shakespeare Company is to stage all eight of Shakespeare's Histories in chronological sequence. It kicks off with Steven Pimlott's fiercely intelligent, modern-dress Richard II in the Other Place, converted by David Fielding into a space resembling a white-walled squash-court or science lab: a perfect setting for this masterly dissection of kingship.
Modern dress, even when stylised with lots of maroon and grey maxi-coats, creates problems for this most ceremonial of plays, one that is steeped in medieval myth and that shows the notion of the king as God-sanctioned monarch giving way to personal ambition and legalistic statecraft. But Pimlott and his designer, Sue Willmington, pull it off in various ways. They suggest Richard presides over an already divided kingdom: one in which rancorous bullies confront each other in the lists at Coventry, with lethal axes. They make good use of symbolic props, including a long wooden casket which variously becomes throne, vertical mirror and coffin. Above all,...
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SOURCE: Saul, Nigel. “With an Eye to the Present.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 5067 (12 May 2000): 3-4.
[In the following review, Saul compares Steven Pimlott's 2000 Royal Shakespeare Company production of Richard II with Jonathan Kent's 2000 staging at the Almeida Theatre. The critic views both productions as problematic in that Pimlott's modern-dress interpretation obscured Shakespeare's view of monarchy and Kent's staging was marred by Ralph Fiennes's one-dimensional portrayal of Richard.]
Can Richard II be turned into a parable of modern tyranny?
Of all Shakespeare's history plays, Richard II is the grandest. Not only does it address the loftiest of themes—tyranny and its punishment, kingship and its responsibilities; it does so with exceptional passion and force. The political voltage runs high. There is no relief in a comic sub-plot. The rivalry of the king and his challenger holds us in thrall.
Richard II has always been a very popular play. It was a hit when first produced in the 1590s, and it saw many performances down to the Civil War. In the Restoration period, it ran into difficulties; the theme of a bad king being deposed was an embarrassment to the Crown. In the nineteenth century, when it was revived, it was interpreted as the tragedy of a poet-king. This reading long remained popular. In our own century, however,...
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SOURCE: Macaulay, Alastair. “An Eloquent Examination of Kingship.” Financial Times (5 January 2001): 16.
[In the following review of Steven Pimlott's 2000 Royal Shakespeare Company staging of Richard II, Macaulay applauds the stark production for its arresting investigation of existential themes.]
Who is worthy to rule? Shakespeare's plays ask the question again and again, and it is a central irony of Richard II that the title character only starts to seem fit for the throne as he abandons it. Shakespeare is often at his most powerful when he shows the gap between the crown and its former wearer: as when the deposed Henry VI is arrested, as when the Duke in Measure for Measure wanders his own state in disguise, and—supreme—as when King Lear rages on the heath. The key point is one we all know in life: that it is only when you have stopped doing something that you fully understand what it was you were doing. Raised, however, to the level of hereditary governance, the issue becomes tragic. Shakespeare examines it from every angle: what is royal heredity? Does it bring divine right with it? And who is worthier to rule than the ruler? Just as Richard II only seems kingly as he ceases to be king, so Bolingbroke only starts to seem unfit for the throne at the moment that he becomes Henry IV.
Richard II is a wonderful play to return to, and it seems always...
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SOURCE: Wilson, Richard. “Power to the Scapegoat.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 5228 (13 June 2003): 20.
[In the following review, Wilson evaluates Tim Carroll's 2003 all-male, Elizabethan staging of Richard II at London's Globe Theatre, focusing on Mark Rylance's illuminating performance of Richard as a “pouting toy-king.”]
“Know ye not that I am Richard?” Elizabeth I's complaint to her spin-doctor William Lambarde has had more impact on current Shakespearean thinking than any other historical remark, unless it is her comment that “We princes are set on stages in sight of all the world”. The Globe has made the Queen's identification with the tragedy-king its starting-point for a season of plays entitled “Regime Change”, in a clear nod to critics such as Stephen Greenblatt, who have taught a generation that “theatre is not set against power, but is power's essential mode”. So, whether or not the play Elizabeth resented was Shakespeare's—put on at the original Globe by the rebels the night before Essex's Revolt—Mark Rylance's Richard II, alive to the politics of power on display, shows why his own upstart regime has now become, in academic eyes at least, Britain's leading Shakespeare company, just when its Royal rival has thrown away the crown.
Academic critics love the Globe for the intellectual tease of moments such as the entry of Rylance's Richard...
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SOURCE: Isherwood, Charles. Review of Richard II. Variety 391, no. 11 (4 August 2003): 30.
[In the following review, Isherwood presents a favorable review of Tim Carroll's 2003 Globe Theatre staging of Richard II, particularly admiring the intimate rapport that Mark Rylance's Richard established with the audience.]
The gentleness that is a particularly appealing element of Mark Rylance's stage persona is put to fine use in his performance as Shakespeare's diffident Richard II at Shakespeare's Globe. Rylance's Richard is the affecting center of this all-male staging by Tim Carroll that clearly presents the king's failings as a ruler and diplomat—and human being—but also clarifies the ennobling effects of his downfall.
Rylance's Richard has the manner of a bored child in the play's early scenes, when he presides somewhat peevishly over the dispute between Bolingbroke (Liam Brennan) and Mowbray (Terry McGinity). He's a monarch who has never learned the proper manners of a ruler. While his subjects present their grievances, a distracted Richard bends to tenderly stroke the hide of a freshly killed deer. He gingerly holds a handkerchief in front of his nose in disgust when calling on the dying Gaunt (played with intelligent gravity by John McEnery), and later flies into a petulant rage when stung by his criticism.
Rylance's Richard is charming and sincere...
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SOURCE: Kurtz, Martha A. “‘Mock Not’: The Problem of Laughter in Richard II.” University of Toronto Quarterly 65, no. 4 (fall 1996): 584-99.
[In the following essay, Kurtz discusses how the element of laughter corresponds to the personalities of Richard and Bolingbroke. According to the critic, Richard's laughter, laced with arrogant elitism and mockery, signifies an aristocratic insecurity which culminates in his deposition; by contrast, Bolingbroke embraces the carnivalesque, popular laughter of the common man to establish political order after usurping the crown.]
Richard II's fall from power in Shakespeare's play has been attributed to many causes: the weakness of the king's ‘poetic’ temperament; the strength of his un-poetic determination to ‘affirm a policy of royal absolutism’; his un-Christian willingness to allow a trial by combat; his failure to allow the trial by combat to proceed; his excessive leniency to both friends and enemies; his complicity in his uncle's murder.1 Most recently, his fate has been ascribed to the effect of a pervasive ‘carnival spirit’ that shapes the world of this play and the plays that follow it. Richard, according to David Bergeron's ‘Richard II and Carnival Politics,’ is a ‘mock king’ who, governed by the rules of carnival games, must inevitably be thrust down, belittled, and cast out to make place for another:...
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SOURCE: Scott, William O. “Landholding, Leasing, and Inheritance in Richard II.” Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 42, no. 2 (spring 2002): 275-92.
[In the following essay, Scott contends that Shakespeare situated Richard II's divine right position within a complicated economic system of landholding and leasing, concluding that Richard's misuse of the realm compromises his hereditary claim to the monarchy.]
A recent description of the rules of succession to the throne in modern Britain states that “under the common law, the Crown descends on the same basis as the inheritance of land.”1 It is evident that Richard II takes for granted an analogy between succession to the kingship and succession to at least the lands and titles of nobility. As Shakespeare presents the situation, the duke of York warns Richard that if he seizes John of Gaunt's lands and title, he will “take from Time / His charters and his customary rights”2 and will “Be not thyself; for how art thou a king / But by fair sequence and succession?” (II.i.198-9); and likewise Bolingbroke argues, returning to claim that inheritance, “If that my cousin king be King in England, / It must be granted I am Duke of Lancaster” (II.iii.123-4). The point now is to strengthen the material content of the play's discourse about property and kingship by paying attention to the practices of humbler...
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SOURCE: Mayer, Jean-Christophe. “Shakespeare's Religious Background Revisited: Richard II in a New Context.” In Shakespeare and the Culture of Christianity in Early Modern England, edited by Dennis Taylor and David Beauregard, pp. 103-20. New York: Fordham University Press, 2003.
[In the following essay, Mayer demonstrates how Shakespeare's Richard II exacerbated the volatile and ideologically unstable climate of the late Elizabethan period. The critic details how different political and religious factions manipulated the play's themes of loyalty and betrayal to serve as propaganda for their own causes, culminating in an alleged staging of the play the night before the ill-fated Essex Rebellion.]
When Shakespeare completed Richard II in 1595, he was writing in a period that historians have ceased to regard as congenial.1 Those “nasty nineties,” as Patrick Collinson observed, were certainly not a period of stabilization, routinization, or secularization: this was not “a decade of sweetness and light, of incipient puritan piety and mellowing Anglicanism, but a rather ugly decade, when the going got tough and unpleasant for all parties” (Collinson 1995, 153). It was in this context that Shakespeare launched a sequence of four plays on the Lancastrian period of English history with the story of the deposition of the Plantagenet King Richard II.2...
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SOURCE: Ruiter, David. “‘Awhile To Work, And After Holiday’: Richard II and the Roots of a Festive History.” In Shakespeare's Festive History: Feasting, Festivity, Fasting, and Lent in the Second Henriad, pp. 41-68. Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 2003.
[In the following essay, Ruiter maintains that festivity is a central theme in Richard II that becomes more fully developed in the succeeding plays of the second tetralogy. According to the critic, the common masses support Richard's deposal and Bolingbroke's subsequent ascension to the throne because the king dismisses community festivity whereas his challenger recognizes its importance to social stability.]
At least since 1959, when C. L. Barber included the two parts of Henry IV in his famous book, Shakespeare's Festive Comedy: A Study of Dramatic Form and Its Relation to Social Custom, there has been little doubt that Shakespeare's history plays not only contain festive elements, but that understanding the function of festivity within those plays is crucial to understanding the plays in essence.1 By comparing Falstaff to the popular Shrovetide character, the Lord of Misrule, and demonstrating how the action and outcome of the plays mirror that of the Misrule festival, Barber showed how the thematic structure of the two Henry IV plays could be traced to Elizabethan social ritual (192-221). At the same...
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Clapp, Susannah. “Agincourt, Near Basra.” Observer (18 May 2003): 11.
Positively reviews Jonathan Kent's 2003 Almeida Theatre staging of Richard II, emphasizing Ralph Fiennes's “always intelligent and always interesting” performance of the title role.
Cowan, Louise. “God Will Save the King: Shakespeare's Richard II.” In Shakespeare as Political Thinker, edited by John Alvis and Thomas G. West, pp. 63-81. Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 1981.
Posits that Richard's transgressions as a divine-right king bring to an end the idyllic, prelapsarian medieval age and usher in a modern era of pragmatic politics in England.
Grady, Hugh. “The Discourse of Princes in Richard II: From Machiavelli to Montaigne.” In Shakespeare, Machiavelli, and Montaigne: Power and Subjectivity from Richard II to Hamlet, pp. 58-108. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Maintains that while both Richard and Bolingbroke embrace Machiavellian principles early on in Richard II, it is the deposed king who ultimately disregards Machiavelli and pursues a Montaignean retreat from the world to contemplate his own subjectivity.
Healy, Margaret. William Shakespeare: Richard II. Plymouth, U.K.: Northcote House, in association with the British...
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