Love of Place and People (Shakespeares’s Richard II)

Eidos | 9/16/2019 | Staff
malik778 (Posted by) Level 3
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Times were bad, but rebellion was not the answer.

Truly gruesome people often rise to the top in a rebellion: Henry IV if you are blessed, Napoleon on average, Stalin if cursed to live at the beginning of the end.

Start - Century - Americans - World - War

At the start of the twenty-first century, Americans have outlived the World War II accommodation with the world. We are deciding what will be next and this can be glorious, usually a muddle, or very terrible if we choose badly. Things do not seem promising just now.

Shakespeare wrote in such a time (the end of the Tudors and the first of the Stuarts) in Richard II. His Richard was a party man, the licentious sort, not the principled kind. He is resisted, then opposed, and finally removed. Nothing becomes Richard II so much as his departing from power. Once out of power he gets the best speeches and Henry, the man who replaces him as King, is made less with power, not greater.

Henry - Father - John - Gaunt - Man

Henry’s father, John of Gaunt, is the best man left in England, but his virtue is out of fashion and so he dies. Richar II like everyone given to personal pleasure claims absolute power, but Gaunt knows the King cannot give him even a moment of life:

John of Gaunt has had political power, used it wisely if imperfectly, and so knew the limits to power. Power can never bring pleasure disconnected to virtue.

Stage - Shakespeare - Brilliant - Speech

Before leaving the stage, Shakespeare gives him a brilliant speech:

John of Gaunt loves England, not power or a king. He loves the people, the heritage, the place. He is a patriot, not a jingoist. As a Christian he loves his family, but also his neighbors! Still John of Gaunt grieves the pain in his nation, the failures of the decadent leaders, and that he must...
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