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Richard II Gender Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line)

Quote #1

God's is the quarrel; for God's substitute,
His deputy anointed in His sight,
Hath caused his death: the which if wrongfully,
Let heaven revenge; for I may never lift
An angry arm against His minister.
Where then, alas, may I complain myself?
To God, the widow's champion and defense.
Why, then, I will. Farewell, old Gaunt. (1.1.2)

When the Duchess of Gloucester begs John of Gaunt to avenge the death of Gaunt's brother and her husband (Thomas of Woodstock, the Duke of Gloucester), Gaunt refuses because he believes his allegiance to the king is more important than his loyalty to his family. This is something we see over and over again in the play: the female characters put family ties above all else. For the most part, the male characters (like Gaunt and York) tend to put political alliances first.

Quote #2

'Tis not the trial of a woman's war,
The bitter clamour of two eager tongues,
Can arbitrate this cause betwixt us twain; (1.1.2)

When Mowbray prepares to duke it out with Henry Bolingbroke, he declares that physical combat is the manly way (and the only way) they can settle their differences. In the process of explaining his position, Mowbray manages to insult women by suggesting that when they "war" with one another, it's usually about something petty (not political), and their "bitter" tongues do all the fighting. Okay, so Mowbray's a jerk. But does this mean the play as a whole has no regard for women's voices? You could argue either way. On the one hand, nobody pays any attention to the queen when she begs to stay with her husband after Richard is sent to Pomfret Castle (5.1.4). On the other hand, when the Duchess of York shows up at King Henry's castle to beg for her son's life, she manages to convince Henry that her son should live, but only after Henry calls her a "shrill-voiced suppliant" (5.5.11).

Quote #3

Each substance of a grief hath twenty shadows,
Which shows like grief itself, but is not so;
For sorrow's eye, glazed with blinding tears,
Divides one thing entire to many objects;
Like perspectives, which rightly gazed upon
Show nothing but confusion, eyed awry
Distinguish form: so your sweet majesty,
Looking awry upon your lord's departure,
Find shapes of grief, more than himself, to wail;
Which, look'd on as it is, is nought but shadows
Of what it is not. Then, thrice-gracious queen,
More than your lord's departure weep not: more's not seen;
Or if it be, 'tis with false sorrow's eye,
Which for things true weeps things imaginary. (2.2.2)

When the queen says she feels a sense of grief at her husband's departure for Ireland, Bushy tries to undermine her by suggesting that she doesn't understand her own feelings.

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