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Richard II Act 3, Scene 4 Summary

  • In her private garden, the queen chills out with her two ladies in waiting.
  • They suggest lawn bowling and dancing and storytelling. She rejects them all.
  • One lady offers to sing, and the queen answers that she'd rather hear her cry. The second lady offers to weep, and the queen says she'd sing if hearing her weep would help.
  • A Gardener comes in with two men and starts ordering his workers around. He tells one of them to bind the apricot trees to give them more support. He tells the second one to prune some plants that are growing too fast.
  • Then the landscapers start to talk politics. The first man asks why they should bother keeping the garden in such good order when the kingdom – a metaphorical garden – is in such a shambles.
  • The Gardener says Bolingbroke has pulled up the "weeds" that were keeping the king weak. (He's talking, of course, about how Bolingbroke ordered the deaths of Bushy and Green, Richard's lousy advisors.)
  • The second man is surprised to hear that Bushy and Green are dead. The Gardener explains that Bolingbroke has also taken the king prisoner.
  • The Gardener says he wishes King Richard had been a better "gardener" of the kingdom. If he had "grown" loyal men and enjoyed the "fruits" of their duty, he would have kept the crown.
  • The first man is surprised, and asks whether the king will be deposed (stripped of his crown). The Gardener answers yep, Richard's going to be tossed off the throne all right.
  • Meanwhile, the queen has been eavesdropping on her gardeners, and she's not happy about what she hears.
  • She jumps out of the bushes and yells at the Gardener, accusing him of being just like "Old Adam." (According to the Bible, Adam was the first man. He fell from God's grace and got kicked out of the Garden of Eden along with his wife, Eve. In other words, the queen thinks Richard's fall is worse than the fall of mankind, and she's blaming the Gardener for what's happened. We talk about this more in "Symbolism.")
  • When she asks him where he heard this news, the Gardener apologizes but insists that what he said was true and is actually pretty common knowledge: Bolingbroke has all the English peers on his side.
  • The queen is ticked off that she's the last person to find out about this. She curses the Gardener's plants, hoping they won't grow. (Um, okay.)
  • The Gardener feels sorry for the queen and decides to plant some rue, an herb associated with compassion and repentance. He plants the stuff where one of the queen's tears fell.

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