Richard II - Sylvan Barnet, William Shakespeare Richard II, an arrogantly powerful king becomes a conflicted prisoner. At times, overly submissive and, at others, defiantly prideful. His monologues in Act V are considered to be the highlight of the play. However, Richard’s reflections on the loss of kingship did not strike me as particularly moving. The speeches serve as foreshadowing for the curse that seems to fall on the House of Lancaster starting with Henry Bolingbroke’s usurption. The penalty for rejecting the Divine Right of Kings.

Though a much less important part of the play, I thought Edmund of Langley, Duke of York, was the most intriguing character. His doggish loyalty to the concept of the crown seems unshaken though he rationalizes and vacillates on who is the crown. It’s an interesting window into the notion of how loyalty to an idea can be meaningless if there is no loyalty to the person who represents that idea.

Shakespeare’s opening work to his second teratology, in which both parts of Henry IV and Henry V follows, was more enjoyable to me as background than for the language of the play itself.