The View Of Richard II As An Effeminate King

1673 Words Feb 21st, 2016 7 Pages
The view of Richard II as an effeminate king is one that to the present day has remained intact. Continuously placed alongside Edward II, particularly in the study of William Shakespeare’s history plays, the feminized portrait of this king is one of staunch endurance, despite the challenges of academics such as Fletcher, who states that the descriptions of Richard in contemporary texts were, “consistently misunderstood.” For Nigel Saul, a recent biographer of Richard II, this treatment of the tragic King by his contemporaries was owing to the fact that “the chroniclers were measuring him against the manliness of his father, who, in his prime, had been an exceptionally vigorous man”. This hypothesis of Saul, is one perspective from which we might begin to comprehend Shakespeare’s treatment of masculinity in Richard II. The idea that Richard’s manliness or lack there of was possibly ‘measured’ against his father, at least suggests that the culturally valued form of masculine norms was linked to a mans ability to act. Of-course in Shakespeare’s Richard II, the king is not measured against his father, but is placed in opposition to another man, that being his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke. In fact, it is the competing forms of masculinity, as depicted through these two men that sparks the dramatic conflict of the play. In what follows, this short study will argue that while Shakespeare sets up opposing forms of masculinity in the play, with the overtly masculine overpowering…
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