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Sample Reading Log for King Richard II

Act I

Scene 1 Vocabulary

1.1.34 ~ appellant: appealing to a higher court

1.1.46 ~ gage: a pledge, esp. a glove, thrown down as a symbol of a challenge to do battle

1.1.103 ~ sluic'd: draw off water by opening a sluice; wash in a gold-miner's sluice

Scene 1 Summary

Bolingbroke brings Mowbray before the King to accuse M. of high treason. After they both present their arguments and challenge each other, the King tells them to give up their fight. Since they won't--which I find hard to believe since the King commanded it--the King decides to have them settle it through chivalrous combat.


Scene 2 Summary

The Duchess of Gloucester asks John of Gaunt to revenge her husband's (Thomas--Gaunt's brother) death. Gaunt can't do anything about it, because his death was ordered by the King. The Duchess prays that Mowbray be killed in the duel. She mentions her own death a couple of times.

Scene 3 Vocabulary

1.3 ~ lists: a place or scene of combat or contest

St. Lambert's Day = September 17

1.3.95 ~ jocund: feeling or expressing cheerfulness; mirthful, merry, light-hearted; pleasant, cheering, delightful

1.3.169 ~ goaler: jailer

Scene 3 Summary

Mowbray and Bokingbroke prepare to duel (we see the ceremonial entrances, etc.), but the King stops them. He and his aides decide to banish them (B for 10 years which is reduced to 6, and M forever).


Scene 4 Summary

After Bolingbroke is banished, we learn that Richard is jealous of B's popularity. Aumerle and the King are dis-ing B when Greene changes the subject to the war in Ireland. At the end of the scene, the King finds out that Gaunt is dying, and he is happy because he wants to take Gaunt's money to pay for the war.



Act II

Scene 1 Vocabulary

2.1.55 ~ sepulchre: a tomb, a burial place, esp. one cut into a rock or built in stone, a burial vault or cave

Scene 1 Summary

John of Gaunt is dying and he wants to give the King some advice before he goes. He gives his famous England speech--the emotion behind this speech must be tremendous. Richard comes in and gets angry when Gaunt tries to set him straight. After Gaunt dies, Richard seizes his lands and money. Some other nobles are concerned because those things should rightfully go to Bolingbroke. Meanwhile, B is amassing an army and is returning to England.

Scene 2 Summary

Bushy tries to cheer up the Queen who is sad because Richard is off for Ireland. She has a "nameless woe" that I'm sure will be uncovered later in the play! York comes in to let the Queen know that Bolingbroke is back and ready to start a fight. He wishes that Richard would have just killed him instead of leaving him with this mess--I guess this was York's punishment that I complained about in the last scene! At the end of the scene, Bushy and Greene decide to flee, but Bagot goes to Ireland to inform the King of the new developments at home.

Scene 3 Summary

York meets up with Bolingbroke. After York chastises B, he decides to remain neutral and invites B and the boys into the castle.

Scene 4 Summary

A Welsh Captain tells Salisbury that they are leaving since they haven't heard from Richard in ten days. They think that Richard is dead.


Act 3

Scene 1 Summary

Bolingbroke accuses Bushy and Greene of taking his lands and slandering him to the King. For this, he has them executed. He sends word to the Queen and then leaves to fight with Glendor.



Scene 2 Summary

Richard realizes that Bolingbroke is winning. All of Richard's men are turning from him. Richard decides to wait it out at Flint.


Scene 3 Summary

Bolingbroke learns that Richard is at Flint Castle, so he goes to the castle and demands his freedom from banishment and his father's lands. Richard acts tough in public, but in private, he is full of despair. Richard feels that he has lost all to B.


Scene 4 Summary

The Queen's ladies are trying to cheer her up when she overhears the gardener talking about Richard's fall. She gets angry and heads off for London.


Act 4

Scene 1 Summary

I missed something somewhere, because Bolingbroke took over the throne and was being a "royal" jerk about it. So much so, that the Abbott of Westminster devises a plot against him at the end of the scene. I think I need to get some clarification!



Act 5

Scene 1 Summary

Isabel and Richard meet in front of the Tower of London. He tells her to go back to France and make believe he is dead. She wants to stay with him. Northumberland enters and tells them that there has been a change of plans. Bolingbroke has ordered Isabel to France and Richard to Pomfret.

Scene 2 Summary

York and his wife are discussing what happened in London with Richard and Bolingbroke when Aumerle walks in. York demands to see the note A tries to hide. The note reveals the plot against the new King's life. York rides to warn the King. His wife sends A ahead to beg the King's forgiveness, and she follows behind.

Scene 3 Summary

Aumerle arrives first and asks for forgiveness. York enters and accuses his son of treason. The Duchess enters and begs on her knees for her son to be pardoned. She will not rise until the King says the words. The King pardons A and then leaves to take care of the other traitors.

Scene 4 Summary

Exton thinks that the King wants him to kill Richard, so he takes off for Pomfret to do just that.

Scene 5 Summary

Exton comes to Richard's prison and kills him. He feels guilty about it.

Scene 6 Summary

We see Bolingbroke taking care of business when Exton comes in with Richard's body. B is angry and feeling guilty. He decides to set out on a crusade "to wash this blood off from my guilty hand."

1st reading
Personal response
2nd reading





I keep thinking about the final scene of Hamlet, and I wonder if something similar is going to take place here.

This also shows Richard's lack of power, because they refuse his order to drop the argument. 

I wonder if she is planning on taking her own life.






Why does Gaunt allow his son to challenge M in the first place? He knows that M was only following the King's orders. Also, why doesn't he try to get his son a lighter sentence before the King gives it? I realize that he didn't want his son to fight, but he could have gone about the whole thing differently.   

Gaunt is placing his political duty before his role as a parent.

Richard allows them to get to the point where they are ready to fight, but he knows that they both have dirt on him, so he can't let either one win. He gets rid of both of them without bloodshed.








The one thing I don't get about this scene is why does Richard allow York to take over while he is in Ireland? York just slammed him hardcore, and Richard acts like nothing happened. Is he that stupid? Cocky? All the above?!  








In 3.1.12-15, is Bolingbroke saying that the Queen had sex with Bushy and Greene? Or does he mean that their lies caused the King to leave England?  

He may be referring to homosexuality when he uses the term "favorites."

Neat "death of Kings" speech!

I don't understand why Richard is giving up. He is basically handing B the crown, but B only wants what is rightfully his.

3.3.183 ~ "For night-owls shriek…" makes me think of Macbeth and Lady M after Duncan's murder.





Bolingbroke is holding court.   The Bishop of Carlisle says that there will be a civil war if Richard is deposed.   Carlisle is arrested.  Richard is brought before B, and he reluctantly surrenders his crown but lets B know how easily it can all be taken away.  After everyone exits except Aumerle, the Abbot, and Carlisle, they start to plot against B.   



I would love to do this farewell scene! 



Reminds me of Gloucester/Edmund note scene in Lear.


Here the play turns from a tragedy to a comedy.  I'm not really sure how I feel about this turn of events.  I enjoy the scene, but it doesn't fit with the rest of the play.  

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