William Shakespeare 's Richard II

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Shakespeare’s history plays are not his most popular plays, but through them Shakespeare comments on a controversial topic in a Christian England: the belief of a divinely appointed king. Under the rule of Richard II, a troubled England began to question loyalty to a flawed but rightful and divinely appointed king. The presence of Bolingbroke, a strong, popular leader who seemed much more fit for the crown than Richard II, furthered the country’s lack of confidence in Richard II. In Shakespeare’s earliest history play Richard II, Richard II presents a weak but legitimate king who faces against the strong warrior Bolingbroke who wants the crown, even though he would be an illegitimate king. When Shakespeare wrote Richard II, England…show more content…
Many people in the play are aware of this, but Bolingbroke decides to act on it. He correctly accuses the Thomas Mowbray and Richard II of killing the Duke of Gloucester, and Richard II has both Bolingbroke and Mowbray banished. This is confusing because Mowbray followed the king’s orders to kill the Duke of Gloucester, and it is an important point to remember when comparing Henry IV to Richard II. These early actions of Richard II portray him as a slimy, unjust king who typically does not gain the audience’s support. As the play continues, Richard II continues to fail at being a just king. Through Bolingbroke’s father, John of Gaunt, the audience discovers that Richard has spent all of England’s money and has been leasing out royal land. Gaunt dies while Bolingbroke is banished, and Richard II neglects the fact that Bolingbroke is the legal heir to Gaunt’s possessions and takes all of Gaunt’s land to fund his army. The Duke of York warns Richard II about this decision and tells him that it is illegal, but Richard II is an arrogant king who thinks he can do what he wants since he is divinely appointed. At this point in the play, Richard II is more unjust than he was at the beginning of the play, and he has committed actions that make it easy for the audience to side with Bolingbroke. In the beginning of the play, Bolingbroke takes the role as the voice of the people. He recognizes that Richard II is a corrupt king, and he acts upon this
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