In Act five, scene five, Richard II, imprisoned and no longer king, is alone onstage. His soliloquy in the beginning of the scene expresses his loneliness and his reflections on how he spent his life. The most important element of his reflection is his understanding of his own thoughts and his sense of self. He uses the term thought (or thoughts) is eight times in lines 1 to 66 alone. He describes the creation of his thoughts through his “brain” being “the female to [his] soul” which is “the father” (lines 6-7). His brain and soul mate and “beget/ A generation of still-breeding thoughts” and that “these same thoughts people” the world (lines 7-9). It is interesting that Richard II uses a metaphor of thoughts being birthed by his mind, because these thoughts become both his only heir and the only thing he leaves behind after death because Bolingbroke took his title, freedom, crown, and any chance of a legacy.
Richard II speech continues discussing thoughts, and the evils inherent in them. He explains that “no thought is contented” like that “the people of [the] world” are not content (lines 10-11). He also states that good thoughts, or “thoughts of things divine” are corrupted by “scruples” and contradict themselves (lines 12-13). Richard uses the discontent in the being of thoughts to introduce and explain the discontent within him. He describes himself as “sometimes…king,” then a “beggar,” and then “king’d again” (lines 32-36). All of this by means of his own brain and thoughts, and then he is finally “unking’d by Bolingbroke” (line 37). This way he is as confused and separated as his thoughts were earlier in the speech. After all of this, he declares himself to be “nothing,” and his discontent shall continue until man is capable of being content “with being nothing” (lines 38-41). The entire speech becomes a discussion of his grief at losing his crown, which made him everything he was. By being forced to give his crown away, Richard made himself nothing, which he cannot be content with. His own thoughts are at war with his pride, vanity, and idea of self because they point out what he has lost.
The music that Richard hears leads him into a discussion of keeping time, which is Richard’s way of coming to terms with the time he wasted while he was king, and now imprisoned, sees the time wasting him. After describing himself as a clock, depicts Bolingbroke as being the “Jack of the clock” which strikes his “heart, which is the bell,” and that Richard’s “time/ runs posting on in Bolingbroke’s proud joy” (line56-60). The metaphor of the clock and time reveal Richard’s understanding that he is subjected under Bolingbroke” This also, in the action of Bolingbroke striking Richard’s heart like a bell, shows that Richard is pained by Bolingbroke’s position over him.