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This moving and eloquent historical drama depicts the conflict between a willful and arrogant poet of a king, Richard II, and his politically pragmatic cousin, Bolingbroke. Rich with memorable scenes and speeches, this lyrical history moves from a splendid medieval tournament to the poignant surrender of a crown; from the queen’s heart-shattering farewell to her king to Richard’s murder—a deed “chronicled in hell” that lives forever as one of the great moments in theater.
Published: Random House Publishing Group an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on May 8, 2013
ISBN: 9780307416155
List price: $6.99
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Of most interest as a hint of what is to come in King Henry IV Parts I and II, although still an interest in its own terms, especially for characters like the Duke of York. Richard II begins with the King arbitrating a quarrel by two younger courtiers and ends with one of those younger courtiers, Henry IV, usurping as King. One flaw, at least to my eyes, it jumps from Henry IV returning to claim his lands, and pledging loyalty to King Richard II, to him usurping the throne without ever explaining if his initial attitude was disingenuous, if something changed, or what happened to bring about this transformation.read more
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Of most interest as a hint of what is to come in King Henry IV Parts I and II, although still an interest in its own terms, especially for characters like the Duke of York. Richard II begins with the King arbitrating a quarrel by two younger courtiers and ends with one of those younger courtiers, Henry IV, usurping as King. One flaw, at least to my eyes, it jumps from Henry IV returning to claim his lands, and pledging loyalty to King Richard II, to him usurping the throne without ever explaining if his initial attitude was disingenuous, if something changed, or what happened to bring about this transformation.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I'm still not a fan of reading plays, and yet as I started to read Richard II, I thought I might maybe revisit plays like Macbeth and Hamlet and read them properly, now I can appreciate them a bit more... so I suppose there's still hope for me yet. I still maintain that plays are understood and appreciated best when performed.

Richard II was, for me, definitely not as compelling as Richard III. The language is still astounding, and I enjoyed reading about the political situation and then applying it while I read the play -- it's interesting in that sense -- but neither Richard II nor Bolingbroke are as compelling as Richard III with his confident villainy.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Reviews

Of most interest as a hint of what is to come in King Henry IV Parts I and II, although still an interest in its own terms, especially for characters like the Duke of York. Richard II begins with the King arbitrating a quarrel by two younger courtiers and ends with one of those younger courtiers, Henry IV, usurping as King. One flaw, at least to my eyes, it jumps from Henry IV returning to claim his lands, and pledging loyalty to King Richard II, to him usurping the throne without ever explaining if his initial attitude was disingenuous, if something changed, or what happened to bring about this transformation.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Of most interest as a hint of what is to come in King Henry IV Parts I and II, although still an interest in its own terms, especially for characters like the Duke of York. Richard II begins with the King arbitrating a quarrel by two younger courtiers and ends with one of those younger courtiers, Henry IV, usurping as King. One flaw, at least to my eyes, it jumps from Henry IV returning to claim his lands, and pledging loyalty to King Richard II, to him usurping the throne without ever explaining if his initial attitude was disingenuous, if something changed, or what happened to bring about this transformation.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I'm still not a fan of reading plays, and yet as I started to read Richard II, I thought I might maybe revisit plays like Macbeth and Hamlet and read them properly, now I can appreciate them a bit more... so I suppose there's still hope for me yet. I still maintain that plays are understood and appreciated best when performed.

Richard II was, for me, definitely not as compelling as Richard III. The language is still astounding, and I enjoyed reading about the political situation and then applying it while I read the play -- it's interesting in that sense -- but neither Richard II nor Bolingbroke are as compelling as Richard III with his confident villainy.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is one of Shakespeare's lesser known tragedies but it also became the first in the series that led to Henry V, et al. It is the tale of a king whose kingdom falls apart and who is eventually dethroned, imprisoned, and killed. It had political significance in its time, such that Elizabeth II compared herself to King Richard. For me, it was not an overwhelming work compared to his other plays.
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As usual, Shakespeare plays fast and loose with historical detail, relying on several sources for his play. Superficially, the play is about the struggle between Richard II and Henry Bolingbroke. Ultimately, though, I found this a complex and involving character study of a young, inexperienced king, that foreshadows elements of Henry V and many other of his plays.
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Richard II is one of my favorite histories, partly because the actual events surrounding Richard's fall offer plenty of drama, and partly because of its sheer beauty. Richard is eloquent to a fault - literally; he'd rather give flowery speeches than actually do anything. But what speeches! You almost forget what a moron he is.

But it's the gardener's soliloquy in III.iv that's actually the prettiest, an extended rant about why he should bother weeding the garden when Richard has let pests overrun England.

It's surprising to me that Richard II doesn't get more attention these days. I understand how Richard III's hilarious villainy and Henry V's blustering violence overshadow it, but this is a rewarding play.
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