Richard II

Abridged Richard II/#1/Honor/Act 1, Scene 1

Shakespeare opens the play with the thirty-two year old
King Richard II calling forward his thirty-year old cousin, Henry Bolingbroke,
along with a Thomas Mowbray, both being accused by the king of complicity in
the death of Thomas, Duke of Gloucester, the king’s youngest uncle.  Both Bolingbroke and Mowbray accuse the other
of shameful misconduct, the king saying they are both “full of ire, in rage
deaf as the sea, hasty as fire.”  The
year is 1399.  Bolingbroke (the future
King Henry IV) calls Mowbray “a traitor and miscreant.”  Mowbray defends himself with style and class,
saying of Bolingbroke that “most falsely doth he lie.”  Bolingbroke responds “Pale trembling coward,
there I throw my gage.”  Mowbray responds
“I take it up, and by that sword I swear I’ll answer thee in any fair
degree.”  Bolingbroke counters “He did
plot the Duke of Gloucester’s death.”
Mowbray cries “For Gloucester’s death, I slew him not.”  Richard II breaks up the vindictive
accusations, saying “Wrath-kindled gentlemen, be ruled by me.”  In his final defense, Mowbray says to the
king “My life thou shalt command, but my fair name thou shalt not have.  Mine honor is my life; both grow in one.  Take honor from me, and my life is done.  Dear my liege, mine honor let me try.  In that I live, and for that will I
die.”

Abridged Richard II/#2/Grief/Act 1, Scene 2

John of Gaunt, the late King Edward III’s fourth son, is
Bolingbroke’s father and Richard II’s uncle. He’s now late in his life.  He’s been a hero to the English.  He is now a tired, discouraged, sick, older man.  The Duchess of Gloucester looks to Gaunt for
help, hoping to avenge the murder of her husband.  But when she asks him for help, he responds
“Put we our quarrel to the will of heaven.” The comment irritates her.  She angrily says “Hath brotherhood in thee no
sharper spur?  Hath love in thy old blood
no living fire?”  Referring to her
husband, she cries “Ah, Gaunt, his blood was thine!  Though thou livest and breathest, yet art
thou slain in him, the model of thy father’s life.”  English society at that time considered the
king God’s agent in England.  John of
Gaunt responds to the Duchess’ plea, saying “God’s is the quarrel; for God’s
substitute hath caused his death.  If
wrongfully, let heaven revenge, for I may never lift an angry arm against His
minister.”  The Duchess asks “Where,
then, alas, may I complain myself?”
Gaunt replies “To God, the widow’s champion and defense.”  She says “Farewell, old Gaunt.  Thy sometime brother’s wife with her
companion, grief, must end her life.  The
last leave of thee takes my weeping eye.”
We’ll soon learn that she has
died.

Richard II/#1/Quotes and Answers

Quote:  “Mine honor is my life; both grow in
one.  Take honor from me, and my life is
done.”

Answer: Act 1, Scene 1,
Lines 188-189.  Thomas Mowbray to Richard
II.  A Thomas Mowbray has been accused by the king of being complicit in the murder of the king’s uncle, the Duke of Gloucester. Mowbray defends himself beautifully; he convincingly claims that he is not guilty as charged, saying “I slew him not.” Mowbray offers this quote near the end of his defense. He goes on to say “Mine honor let me defend. In that I live, and for that will I die.” The king spares his life but banishes him from England.

Richard II/#2/Quotes and Answers

Quote: “All places that the eye of heaven visits are
to a wise man ports and happy havens.”

Answer: Act 1, Scene 3,
Lines 281-282.  John of Gaunt to Henry Bolingbroke.  John of Gaunt, an English hero for all time, was the fourth son of Edward III, the patriarch of all these Plantagenets, the surname of these fifteenth century English kings. Henry (or Harry) Bolingbroke is Gaunt’s son. Bolingbroke has been exiled to France for six years by his cousin, Richard II. Bolingbroke is the one who had accused Thomas Mowbray of being involved in the murder of his and Richard II’s uncle, the Duke of Gloucester. John of Gaunt offers his son this quote as the young man is about to leave for France. He offers his son other timeless advice such as “suppose the flowers fair ladies, and thy steps no more than a delightful dance.”

Abridged Richard II/#3/Advice/Act 1, Scene 3

Richard II decides that a duel at Coventry is the best
way to resolve the conflict between Bolingbroke and Mowbray.  The king says “Your swords and lances shall
arbitrate the swelling difference of your settled hate.”  Just as the duel is to begin, the king
dramatically changes his mind, sparing the lives of both men.  The king says “Since our kingdom’s earth
should not be soiled with that dear brood which it hath fostered, we banish you
our territories.”  You, cousin Henry,
upon pain of life, till six summers have enriched our fields, shall not regreet
our fair dominions.”  He banishes him to
France.  Richard II then turns to
Mowbray, banishing him from England for life, saying “For thee remains a
heavier doom, which I with some unwillingness pronounce.  The hopeless word of ‘never to return’
breathe I against thee, upon pain of life.”
John of Gaunt offers his disheartened son timeless advice, saying “Thy
grief is but the absence for a time.  All
places that the eye of heaven visits are to a wise man ports and happy
havens.  There is no virtue like
necessity.  Suppose the singing birds
musicians, the flowers fair ladies and thy steps no more than a delightful
dance.  Gnarling sorrow hath less power
to bite the man that mocks at it and sets it light.”

Richard II/#3/Quotes and Answers

Quote: “They say the tongues of dying men enforce attention
like deep harmony.  They breathe truth
that breathe their words in pain.”

Answer: Act 2, Scene 1,
Lines 9-11.   John of Gaunt to York.  A fatally ill John of Gaunt desperately wants to offer advice to the young king, his nephew. Gaunt’s younger brother, Edward III’s fifth son, the Duke of York, wants his brother to be quiet and rest, saying the young king won’t listen to him. John of Gaunt was his own man. Gaunt defies his brother, offering him this quote.

Abridged Richard II/#4/Insight/Act 2, Scene 1.1

John of Gaunt turns seriously ill.  His son, Henry Bolingbroke, leaves for France,
Bolingbroke, as we say, having been exiled from England for six years.  John of Gaunt, as said, was Edward III’s
fourth son; Edmund of Langley, better known here as the Duke of York, was the
late king’s fifth son.  With John of
Gaunt near death, York encourages him to rest comfortably, saying “Vex not
yourself, nor strive not with your breath, for all in vain comes counsel to his
ear.”  But John of Gaunt doesn’t really
listen to his brother.  He wants desperately
to provide “counsel to the king’s ear.”
Gaunt says “They say the tongues of dying men enforce attention like
deep harmony.  They breathe truth that
breathe their words in pain.  More are
men’s ends marked than their lives before.
The setting sun, and music at the close, as the last taste of sweets, is
sweetest last, writ in remembrance more than things long past.  Though Richard my life’s counsel would not
hear, my death’s sad tale may yet undeaf his ear.”  York responds: “No, the open ear of youth
listens to reports of fashions in proud Italy, whose manners still our tardy-apish
nation limps after in base imitation.
Direct not him whose way himself will choose.”

Abridged Richard II/#5/Pride/Act 2, Scene 1.2

Ignoring his brother York’s counsel, John of Gaunt cries
out “Methinks I am a prophet new inspired.”
Referring to Richard II, Gaunt says “His rash fierce blaze of riot
cannot last, for violent fires soon burn out themselves; small showers last
long, but sudden storms are short.”  He
then proceeds to tell us how proud he is of his homeland.  “This other Eden, demi-paradise, this
fortress built by Nature for herself against infection and the hand of war,
this happy breed of men, this little world, this precious stone set in the
silver sea, as a moat defensive to a house, this blessed plot, this earth, this
realm, this England.  This land of such
dear souls, this dear dear land, is now leased out like a tenement.  England, bound in with the triumphant sea,
whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege of wat’ry Neptune, is now bound
in with shame.  Ah, would the scandal
vanish with my life, how happy then were my ensuing death!”  The king enters.  York counsels his brother to “deal mildly
with his youth.”  The king greets Gaunt
with “How is ‘t with aged Gaunt?”  Gaunt
responds “Old Gaunt indeed, and gaunt in being old.  I mock my name, great king, to flatter
thee.”  Richard II says: “Should dying
men flatter with those that live?”  Gaunt
replies “O, no, thou diest, though I the sicker be.”  Richard says “I am in health, I breathe, and
see thee ill.”  Gaunt responds “I see
thee ill.  Thy deathbed is no lesser than
thy land, wherein thou liest in reputation sick.”  As Gaunt is then carried off the stage,
Richard II cries out to him “Let them die that age and sullens have, for both
hast thou, and both become the grave.”

Abridged Richard II/#6/Plead/Act 2, Scene 1.3

The Earl of Northumberland, a friend of John of Gaunt’s,
enters to tell us of Gaunt’s death, telling us “His tongue is now a stringless
instrument; words, life and all, old Lancaster hath spent.”  John of Gaunt was the Duke of Lancaster.  York says “Though death be poor, it ends a
mortal woe.”  Richard II says “The ripest
fruit first falls, and so doth he; his time is spent, our pilgrimage must be.  So much for that.  Now for our Irish wars.  Towards our assistance we do seize to us the
plate, coin, revenues and gold and jewels our uncle Gaunt did stand
possessed.”  The king takes possession of
Gaunt’s assets and plans to use them to finance his war effort with
Ireland.  York turns to the king and says
“How long shall I be patient?  Ah, how
long shall tender duty make me suffer wrong?
I am the last of noble Edward’s sons, of whom thy father, Prince of
Wales, was first.  Is not Gaunt dead?  And doth not Bolingbroke live?  Was not Gaunt just?  And is not Harry true?  Did not the one deserve to have an heir?  If you do wrongfully seize Bolingbroke’s
rights, you pluck a thousand dangers on your head, you lose a thousand
well-disposed hearts, and prick my tender patience to those thoughts which
honor and allegiance cannot think.”
Richard II responds “Think what you will, we seize into our hands his
plate, his goods, his money, and his lands.”
York says “I’ll not be by the while.
My liege, farewell.”  He
exits.  Richard turns to one of his
supporters, saying “Tomorrow next we will for Ireland.  Tomorrow must we part.  Be merry, for our time of stay is
short.”

Richard II/#4/Quotes and Answers

Quote:
“This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.”

Answer: Act 2, Scene 1, Lines
55-56.  John of Gaunt to York  A dying John of Gaunt, the father, grandfather and great-grandfather of kings, lets all know of his love for his homeland, outdoing himself with a soliloquy that surely is one of England’s favorites.