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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #10

You would have thought the very windows spake,
So many greedy looks of young and old
Through casements darted their desiring eyes
Upon his visage, and that all the walls
With painted imagery had said at once
'Jesu preserve thee! welcome, Bolingbroke!' (5.2.12)

Here York describes how Henry Bolingbroke rode into London after seizing power from Richard II. This is an interesting reversal: instead of describing the spectacle of Bolingbroke himself, York describes the public's reaction to the spectacle. It's a clever move that keeps us from seeing Bolingbroke clearly. Instead, we see windows and eyes: things that are used to watch instead of the thing they're watching. In one sense, York's description is all appearances and no substance: he starts this passage by saying "you would have thought," meaning it didn't really happen the way he says. It turns out you would have thought the walls had been painted with images welcoming Bolingbroke. What does this mean? York seems to give us information without actually telling us anything at all.

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