Suggested Essay Topics

Act I
1. In Act I, Shakespeare alternates public and private scenes. Discuss the behavior of the principal characters in each of these scenes and the ways in which their behavior reflects the nature of their large or small audience.

2. Discuss the positive and negative aspects of King Richard’s character revealed in Act I.

3. Examine the ways in which Shakespeare reveals Gaunt’s loyalty to the crown and his son’s rebellious nature.

4. Explore Shakespeare’s frequent use of blood imagery in the first act.

Act II
1. Examine the validity of the charges brought against the King by the dying John of Gaunt.

2. Discuss the ways in which Shakespeare reveals that Bolingbroke, the nobles, and the common people have just cause to be angry with Richard’s policies as sovereign.

3. Explore the reasons why the Duke of York is torn between the causes of his nephews, King Richard and Henry Bolingbroke.

4. Discuss the ways in which the events of the second act foreshadow King Richard’s downfall.

1. Compare and contrast King Richard’s poetic eloquence when faced with defeat with his language and behavior in earlier scenes.

2. Discuss the possible reasons for the Duke of York’s defection to Bolingbroke’s cause.

3. Examine the validity of Bolingbroke’s claim that he is seeking only the restoration of his...

(The entire section is 547 words.)