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Quotes

Quote #7

KING RICHARD II
What said our cousin when you parted with him?
DUKE OF AUMERLE
'Farewell:'
And, for my heart disdained that my tongue
Should so profane the word, that taught me craft
To counterfeit oppression of such grief
That words seem'd buried in my sorrow's grave. (1.4.3)

Whereas Henry Bolingbroke was genuinely at a loss for words when his friends said goodbye, Aumerle tells Richard that he faked it: when he said goodbye to Henry, he pretended to be so emotional that he couldn't speak. This is interesting, don't you think? What Aumerle is describing, really, is acting: conveying an emotion you don't really feel. This is what Richard's advisors are guilty of too. This is a play where it's very hard to know what anyone really feels about things. Remember, since he wants Richard to think he has no feelings about Henry's banishment, it's unclear to the audience whether he's telling the truth or not.

Quote #8

His tongue is now a stringless instrument;
Words, life and all old Lancaster hath spent. (2.1.2)

This is what Northumberland says about Gaunt after the old man delivers a big speech about how Richard is ruining England and then dies. In describing Gaunt's death this way, Northumberland reinforces the link between language and life and highlights the fact that by trying to tell Richard the whole truth about himself, Gaunt "spent" his life. In other words, a certain kind of language is very expensive in this play: Richard has set up a government in such a way that it costs something to tell the truth.

Quote #9

As I was banished, I was banished Hereford;
But as I come, I come for Lancaster. (2.3.10)

It's probably obvious by now that naming is extremely important in Richard II. Here, Henry Bolingbroke, who gets referred to by four different names throughout the play (Hereford, Bolingbroke, Lancaster, and finally King Henry IV), tells York that his banishment is no longer valid. Why? Because the man King Richard banished was Hereford. Now that John of Gaunt is dead, Henry, as his heir, has legally inherited the title of Lancaster, so he's no longer the "Hereford" whom the king banished. In an interesting way, Henry does the opposite of Richard: where Richard has a really hard time separating his identity from the title of king, Henry shuffles names and titles around until he finds the one that brings him the most power.

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