A High Schooler's Guide to "Richard II"


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eBook for Spring 2013 W200 by Jaclyn Wagner and Kathryn Waltman

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A High Schooler's Guide to "Richard II"

  1. 1. A HIGHSCHOOLER’SGUIDE TORICHARD II Lorem IpsumKathryn Waltman and Jaclyn Wagner
  2. 2. Chapter 1Section 1: How to Use the eBookSection 2: Notes on ShakespeareSection 3: Early Modern LondonSection 4: GenreSection 5: Main Character DescriptionsINTRODUCTION
  3. 3. This purpose of this eBook is to help you to better understand Richard II as you read the play. It is not meant to be a replacementfor reading the actual text. The introduction will help to familiarize yourself with Shakespeare and life in England during thetime the play was written. As you read, use the discussion questions at the end of each section to get you to think deeper aboutthe themes of the text.The authors of this book, Jaclyn Wagner and Kathryn Waltman, graduated from Indiana University with degrees in SecondaryEnglish Education. Jaclyn graduated from high school in Chicago, Illinois, and Kathryn in South Bend, Indiana.2Section 1About the eBook and Authors
  4. 4. Shakespeare was an extremely famous poet andplaywright during the time of Early ModernEngland. Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets and 38plays. Much of Shakespeare’s writing was con-sidered extremely controversial at the time, buthas grown more popular with time. The play-wright became more famous for his work afterhis death and his writing is considered to betimeless. Classrooms around the globe continueto study Shakespearean writing to this day.3SECTION 1Notes on ShakespearePortrait of William Shakespeare
  5. 5. 4Early ModernEnglandThe England of Shakespeare’s time was an ugly, violentplace. The cities were dirty, cramped, and full of diverse people.It was common to see people dumping their waste in the streetand people with diseases lining the streets. Because of this, theplague and other illnesses spread really easily. Outside the citieswas only farmland. These farmers lived outside the cities andbrought their goods into town to sell. Entertainment was found inthe torture of criminals, animal fighting, and plays. Theplayhouses appealed to all types and social classes of people,except the Puritans. The Puritans objected to the plays for manyreligious reasons and caused some problems for the actingtroupes.SECTION 2
  6. 6. 5The History of Richard II
  7. 7. 6SECTION 3GenreGenre is extremely important in analyzing thevarious happenings of a play. The genre ofRichard II is complex in that it does not fallinto one category. The play is both a historyand a tragedy and this can be seen by the styleof writing as well as the tone and content ofthe play. There are specific rules andconventions that genre plays follow andRichard II is no exception. The genre oftragedy suggests that someone will die at theend of the play, which is the case with this play.The genre of history suggests that the play willbe deeply rooted in issues such as politics andwar, which again is the case in this play. Whileyou are reading this play, be sure to keep in mind thegenres and how they affect the play as a whole.
  8. 8. King Richard II:• Current king of England• Struggling to maintain his position of power• His insecurities often cause him to make irra-tional decisionsBolingbroke:• Richard’s cousin• Next in line for the throne• Wants to take the throne from Richard7SECTION 4Main CharacterDescriptionsYoung King Richard II
  9. 9. John of Gaunt:• Richard’s uncle and Bolingbroke’s father• Close confidant of King Richard• Is the first to predict Richard’s demiseThe Queen• Richard’s wife• Easily manipulated• Though she is the Queen, she has a smallrole in the playDuke of York• Father of the Duke of Aumerle• Richard’s right-hand man• His loyalty is easily swayedDuke of Aumerle• Son of the Duke of York• Gets caught up in conspiracy plotsDuchess of York• Duke of York’s second wife• NOT Aumerle’s mother• Defends Aumerle when his conspiracies gethim in troubleMowbray• Duke of Norfolk• Banished from England for life due to accu-sations of killing the Dike of GloucesterDuchess of Gloucester• Widow of the murdered Duke of Gloucester8
  10. 10. 9The Line of Edward III
  11. 11. Chapter 2Section 1: Scene iSection 2: Scene iiSection 3: Scene iiiSection 4: Scene ivSection 5: Discussion TopicsACT I
  12. 12. 11SECTION 1Act I, Scene iIn this scene, Bolingbroke accusesMowbray of treason and blames himfor the murder of the Duke ofGloucester. Both men challenge eachother to a duel by throwing gages.Richard establishes his authority byscheduling the duel for another time.Mowbray and Bolingbrokethrow their gages.
  13. 13. In this scene, the Duchess of Gloucesterpleads to Gaunt to get revenge for the mur-der of her husband. Gaunt informs theDuchess that since the King was responsi-ble for the murder, only God can seek pun-ishment. The King is viewed as God’sbody on earth and has the Divine Rightof Kings given to him by God.12SECTION 2Act I, Scene iiJohn of Gaunt
  14. 14. Bolingbroke and Mowbray are pre-paring to fight, but King Richardstops this before it goes for. Themen were fighting in order toprove their innocence in regardsto the death of Gloucester. KingRichard banishes Mowbray for lifeand Bolingbroke for seven years.13SECTION 3Act I, Scene iii
  15. 15. Richard begins to make plans to goto war with Ireland yet again. TheKing has been raising money forthe war by leasing out land andrevenue in exchange for cash andcollects high taxes from the wealthy.When Richard hears that Gaunt isill, he decides that he wants toclaim his property in order to helpfund the war.14SECTION 4Act I, Scene iv
  16. 16. • If the King actually killed the Duke ofGloucester, why doesn’t anyone accuse himof it?• Why does King Richard ban Mowbray forlife, but Bolingbroke only for seven years?• What does John of Gaunt mean in Act I,Scene ii, lines 39-43? How are these linessignificant in the play?15SECTION 5Discussion TopicsKing Richard II and his court
  17. 17. Chapter 3Section 1: Scene iSection 2: Scene iiSection 3: Scene iiiSection 4: Scene ivSection 5: Discussion TopicsACT II
  18. 18. Richard begins to make plans to go towar with Ireland yet again. The King hasbeen raising money for the war by leasingout land and revenue in exchange forcash and collects high taxes from thewealthy. When Richard hears that Gauntis ill, he decides that he wants to claimhis property in order to help fund thewar.17SECTION 1Act II, Scene i
  19. 19. Richard leaves for Ireland and the Queen isvery depressed over his absence.  The Queenhas a premonition that something bad is go-ing to happen to Richard while he is overseas.King Richard leaves York in charge in his ab-sence, thus having to deal with an angryBolingbroke when he arrives back in England.18SECTION 2Act II, Scene ii
  20. 20. Northumberland, who previously workedfor Richard, decides to side with Boling-broke. Both men are at Berkeley Castleand they meet Northumberland’s son,Henry Percy. York arrives at the castle andscolds Bolingbroke for coming back to Eng-land before his sentence is up, but ends updismissing him knowing there is nothing hecan do to make Bolingbroke leave.19SECTION 3Act I, Scene iii
  21. 21. Richard’s army in Wales disbandsbecause they believed him to bedead. The Earl of Salisbury predictsthat Richard’s demise is near.20SECTION 4Act II, Scene iv
  22. 22. • What is the role of prophecies in this play?• What does Richard’s army leaving Whalessay about his leadership?• What predictions do you have about whathappens during the rest of the play.• Why do you think Bolingbroke decides toreturn to England before the end of hisbanishment?21SECTION 5Discussion Topics
  23. 23. Chapter 4Section 1: Scene iSection 2: Scene iiSection 3: Scene iiiSection 4: Scene ivSection 5: Discussion TopicsACT III
  24. 24. Bolingbroke sentences Bushy and Greento death, despite not being King.23SECTION 1Act III, Scene i
  25. 25. Richard returns to Wales to find that histroops have left, Bushy and Green have beenkilled, and York and many  of Richard’s othersupporters have decided to side with Boling-broke. King Richard discharges his army andretreats to Flint Castle.24SECTION 2Act III, Scene ii
  26. 26. Bolingbroke arrives at Flint Castle and learnsthat Richard is there as well. Aumerle accom-panies Richard to meet with Northumberlandwho becomes the middle-man between Boling-broke and Richard. Bolingbroke demandsthat Richard lift his banishment and KingRichard gives into this demand. Northumber-land tells Richard that he must meet withBolingbroke because Bolingbroke is demand-ing it.  Richard again gives in  and accompa-nies Bolingbroke to London.25SECTION 3Act III, Scene iii
  27. 27. The Queen overhears the gardenersdiscussing Richard’s downfall and thelikelihood that he will lose the king-ship.26SECTION 4Act III, Scene iv
  28. 28. • What is the significance of Bolingbroke sen-tencing two men to death even though he isnot king?• Why is it important that Richard simply givesin to Bolingbroke’s demands? What does thissay about the character of both men?• What is the purpose of the scene in which theQueen hears about Richard’s demise from thegardeners? What does this say about genderroles?27SECTION 5Discussion Topics
  29. 29. Chapter 5Section 1: Scene 1Section 2: Discussion SectionsACT IV
  30. 30. Bolingbroke wants to learn more about the deathof the Duke of Gloucester and many of the no-bles, including Aumerle and Bagot, challenge oneanother when the death is brought up. Many peo-ple throw down gauges in order to initiate a fightover  who  is to blame for the death of the Duke.York comes to tell everyone that Richard is step-ping down from the throne and when Bolingbrokebegins to  take the throne, the Bishop of Carlisleaccuses him of treachery and predicts a civil war.Carlisle is arrested and Bolingbroke orders Rich-ard to come meet with him in person. Richard for-mally resigns the crown in front of Bolingbrokeand his taken to the tower and Aumerle learnsthat people are plotting against Bolingbroke.29SECTION 1Act IV, Scene i
  31. 31. • Why does Carlisle accuse Bolingbroke oftreachery?• What does it say about Richard that he senthis assistant to do his dirty work for him?• What could the broken mirror symbolize?Elaborate.• Discuss the significance of the part of thescene where both Richard and Bolingbrokehold the crown.30SECTION 2Discussion TopicsRichard inspects his reflection ina mirror.
  32. 32. Chapter 6Section 1: Scene 1Section 2: Scene 2Section 3: Scene 3Section 4: Scene 4Section 5: Scene 5:Section 6: Scene 6Section 7: Discussion TopicsACT V
  33. 33. Richard says goodbye to his Queenand decides to send her back toFrance.32SECTION 1Act V, Scene i
  34. 34. The Duke of York expresses his condolencesto Richard, but then swears his loyalty toKing Henry Bolingbroke. York discovers thatAumerle is plotting against the new King andset off on a mission to inform King Henry ofthis. Aumerle and the Duchess of York  followafter  York to beg the King for mercy.33SECTION 2Act V, Scene 2
  35. 35. Aumerle reaches King Henry first and pleadsto the King for mercy in regards to an un-named crime. The Duke of York  follows be-hind Aumerle and informs the King of the en-tire plot against him. The Duchess barges inafter the Duke and the three kneel before theKing pleading for different things, York Au-merle and the Duchess and Aumerle formercy and forgiveness. The king opts to par-don Aumerle and sends his army to arrest theother conspirators.34SECTION 3Act V, Scene iii
  36. 36. Sir Pierce Exton removes Richard accord-ing to the wishes of King Henry Boling-broke.35SECTION 4Act V, Scene iv
  37. 37. Richard is imprisoned in Pontefract Castleand is visited by a boy that previously workedin his stable. The prison keeper visits Richardas well. Exton later enters with a number ofarmed men and Richard  kills several of themin self-defense before Exton finally kills Rich-ard.36SECTION 5Act V, Scene v
  38. 38. King Henry hears about the capture of theleaders of the conspiracy against him. TheKing pardons the Bishop of Carlisle. Extonbrings Richard’s dead body to Henry who pro-ceeds to banish Exton for murder. KingHenry decides to go to the Holy Land to ridhimself of his personal guilt.37SECTION 6Act V, Scene vi
  39. 39. • Why does King Henry banish Exton after ex-plicitly telling him to kill Richard?• How do you interpret Richard’s soliloquy atthe beginning of Scene v?• Why does York beg King Henry to take kill hisown son.38SECTION 7Discussion TopicsKing Henry IV
  40. 40. Chapter 7REFLECT ONTHE PLAY
  41. 41. -Discuss the importance of word choice in the play.-How is gender significant throughout this play?-Discuss how this play hints at what makes a good king versus a bad king.-Looking back, what examples of foreshadow can you find in the text?-How does this play follow, as well as break, the typical rules and conventions of the gen-res of history and tragedy? Elaborate.-How do you think this play was received when it was first written and performed? Why?40Reflection Topics
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