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Richard II is political because it stages a struggle for political power. The main conflict is over who deserves to rule England: the hereditary monarch who is out of touch with his people, or his charismatic cousin, the man of the people who takes over the throne. In Shakespeare's time, the Earl of Essex had Shakespeare's company put on the play right before he attempted a rebellion against Queen Elizabeth, to try to show the people of London that a hereditary monarch could and should be overthrown. The power of the play's political themes were such that they reached beyond the bounds of the play itself and had strong implications in the real world. Thus, the play is profoundly political both in theme and impact. It is hard to imagine someone denying the political import of the play, unless they were simply focused on the poetry, which is certainly exquisite.

Richard II is an intensely political play. The overriding theme is one that dominated English history throughout the fifteenth and...

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