| Quote #1
O, how that name befits my composition!
Here, old John of Gaunt expresses his grief at his son's banishment from England. What's interesting about this passage is that Gaunt's wordplay experiments with the very problem of identity. He puns on his name, Gaunt, which means skinny and sickly looking, but by the end of the quote, everyone who "abstains from meat" (everyone who fasts) is included. Gaunt is making an important point: the name "Gaunt" can refer to many people (despite the king's efforts to make sure there will be no more "Gaunts" by banishing Gaunt's heir, Henry. Using this logic, it also becomes clear that that the name "king" can also refer to more than just one man, right?
| Quote #2
My lord, my answer is, to 'Lancaster',
When Henry Bolingbroke returns to England to claim his birthright, he assumes a powerful position. He makes it clear that before he'll accept any message from the king's representative, he must first be acknowledged and officially recognized as "Lancaster," Gaunt's rightful heir. (Remember, John of Gaunt was the Duke of Lancaster, and when he died that land was supposed to be passed down to his son. Richard stepped in and basically stole it.) Since this is exactly what Richard was trying to deprive Henry of, it's a bold move. Keep reading...
| Quote #3
As I was banish'd, I was banish'd Hereford;
When York confronts Henry Bolingbroke for storming into England after he's been banished, Henry explains his rationale – he's returned with an army because King Richard has stolen his birthright by taking the land (Lancaster) that should have gone to Henry when his father died. The law says that when a man dies, all his wealth, titles, and land should be passed down to his eldest son. This applies to noblemen and kings. As Henry points out, the same system that allowed Richard to inherit the title "King of England" from his father is supposed to allow him, Henry, to inherit the title "Duke of Lancaster" from his dad. So if Richard denies Henry his title, Henry figures he's got a right to take away the king's.