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Richard II
Richard II
by William Shakespeare
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Richard II Symbolism, Imagery & Allegory

Sometimes, there’s more to Lit than meets the eye.

Divine Right of Kings

You probably noticed that Richard II is always running around saying stuff like, "Hey, God picked me to be king, so I can do whatever I want and don't have to answer to anybody." Richard's got a bi...


Okay, Shmoopsters, we're just going to come right out and say this. Any time you see a reference to gardens (especially gardens that have been trashed) in Western literature, the author probably wa...

Seven Vials of Sacred Blood and Seven Fair Branches

In Act 1, Scene 2, the Duchess of Gloucester makes a big speech to John of Gaunt about how King Edward III's seven sons are like "seven fair branches" on a family tree or seven vials of Edward's "s...

Biblical Betrayals

Shakespeare refers to the Bible in his plays more than any other Elizabethan playwright, so we're not really surprised when we find a bunch of biblical shout-outs in this play. Let's discuss.Christ...

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Immediately after he's forced to give up his crown, Richard asks for a mirror. Huh? What's that all about? We know the guy's arrogant, but geez, this isn't exactly the best time for Richard to be c...

The Crown

Everyone knows that a monarch's crown is never just a fancy, bedazzled hat that looks good with a matching golden wand and throne. It's more than that: it's a visual symbol of power. In this play,...

Rising "Up" and Falling "Down"

There's a whole lot of talk about rising and falling in this play – so much so that it makes us feel a little seasick. When Henry forces Richard II to give up the crown, Shakespeare beats us over...

The Sun

Shakespeare uses the sun as a metaphor for kingly power and strength throughout this entire cycle of history plays. (What? You don't believe us? Fine. When you're done here, go read about "Symbolis...

Henry's Name(s)

Names are a very, very, very big deal in Richard II. Remember when Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford, returns to England to claim the land he was supposed to inherit when his dad (Gaunt/Lancaster...
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