King Richard II

While reading the play Richard II I was particularly struck by Richards quick mood swings. I know in class we spoke briefly about how we can look at this play as a rule book for kings, as to what not to do and what to do, but I find it really difficult to keep up with the king and his actions. In Act 3 Scene 2 Richard says:

So when this thief, this traitor, Bolingbroke,
Who all this while hath revelled in the night
Whilst we were wand’ring with the antipodes,
Shall see us rising in our throne, the east,
His treasons will sit blushing on his face,
Not able to endure the sight of day,
But, self-affrighted, tremble at his sin.
Not all the the water in the rough sea
Can wash the balm from an anointed king.

Richard seems very confident here in his ability to overtake Bolingbroke. he is assuring his lords that they will take Bolingbroke down, even when they seem hesitant to the idea of them winning. This is what I would expect from a king whose enemy is on the verge of him. Yet only on the next page I saw a completely different king. One who seems very weak. He was told that Bolingbroke is stronger than before. Instead of living up to the challenge, he literally sits on the ground and complains.

For Gods sake, let us sit on the ground,
And tell sad stories of the death of kings-
How some have been deposed of, some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed,
Some poisoned by their wives, some sleeping killed,
All murdered.

By suggesting they reminisce about old dead kings who have have been murdered and haunted, he seems to be giving up. Sitting down basically thinking about all the ways he could die. It’s very childish, and I would say that this is one of those moments that would be added to the ‘Do Not Do’ list. As I kept reading Richard still confuses me, but as I’m writing this I guess I can kind of understand how he can go back and forth from pride and despair. His kingdom is falling to Bolingbroke, who Richard does not want to have the crown, and there is no solution in sight. As a king though he is supposed to have a tough front and we see that break down at times, making him seem weak.


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