In Shakespeare's Richard II, what are the differences between Richard and Henry Bolingbroke?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Shakespeare presents the two rivals as both being unfit to rule England, albeit for different reasons. Richard believes himself entitled to rule by divine right, that is to say chosen directly by God himself. Unfortunately, this makes him rather complacent, taking his throne for granted instead of following Machiavelli's advice and acting like a cunning fox to maintain his grip on power.

That's not a problem that Bolingbroke (Henry IV) ever has to encounter. He's possessed of a natural instinct for power which makes him such a formidable opponent. He's also a much more dynamic character than Richard, not hesitating to act to secure what he believes is rightfully his. When Henry puts together an invading army, instead of springing into action, Richard literally sits around doing nothing.

There's a bluff honesty about Henry that further distinguishes him from...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 448 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team