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Richard II Act 5, Scene 5 Summary

  • In prison at Pomfret Castle, Richard gives a long, weird, but very poetic speech about his loneliness. He says he can't compare his prison to the rest of the world because the world is full of people and he is all alone in prison. Then he imagines that his brain is female and his soul is male. If his brain and soul could get together and breed, he could "people" (fill up) his prison with a bunch of his thoughts. (We told you this was a weird speech.)
  • Then he imagines digging his way out of his walls and takes comfort in imagining other people who have also suffered. In this way he plays the roles of many people, though none of them are happy. Sometimes he is a king and wishes he were a beggar, since beggars are immune to treason. But poverty makes him think he was better off as king. In the end, he decides no man will be happy until he is "eased with being nothing" – that is, dead.
  • A Groom (someone who takes care of horses) comes in and tells Richard that he just saw Henry riding Richard's old horse through the streets on his way to be officially crowned king.
  • Richard asks how "Barbary" behaved under his new master. Proudly, the groom says. Richard declares that his horse is an ingrate and a traitor.
  • A Keeper comes in with a dish of food and tells the Groom to leave. (Uh-oh.)
  • The Groom reluctantly does so.
  • The Keeper invites Richard to chow down, but Richard thinks this isn't a great idea. Maybe the Keeper should taste the food first, just to see what will happen.
  • The Keeper says he doesn't dare: Sir Piers of Exton, who comes from the king, told him not to.
  • Richard figures the plate of food has been poisoned. He declares, "The devil take Henry of Lancaster and thee!" and attacks the Keeper.
  • Exton and four of his servants rush in. Richard snatches one of the servants' weapons and kills him with it. (Wow. Who knew Richard had it in him?)
  • Then Richard kills another.
  • Then Exton stabs Richard.
  • Richard's not about to go down quietly. He accuses Exton of staining "the king's own land" with royal blood. Then he dies.
  • Exton admires Richard's courage and says he feels kind of bad about killing the former king. He wishes he hadn't done it.
  • They exit with the dead bodies.

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