How are sexual aspects of life dealt with in Willam Shakespeare's Richard II?

1 Answer

thanatassa's profile pic

thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Sexuality plays a far less explicit role in William Shakespeare`s Richard II than in many of his other plays. The roles of women are quite minor and there are no major romantic sub-plots to the play. The Duchess of Gloucester mourns for her dead husband, and thus one can presume a happy marriage. The Duchess of York is a minor character who appears mainly in the role of a protective mother.

The Queen serves to foreshadow major plot elements. After King Richard II is deposed, The Queen berates him for his lack of manliness. This reflects the historical character of Richard II who was an unwarlike king, concerned with the arts, and fond of personal luxury. Certain historical sources suggest that he was, in fact, homosexual, something born out by his lack of children. This may be implicitly suggested by his characterization in the play.