From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Richard II

Richard II

  

by William Shakespeare

Analysis: What's Up With the Title?

What's up with the title? You know the answer to this. There's a king named Richard II... but he won't be a king for long. That's why the publishers of the first quarto edition of the play (printed in 1597) called it The Tragedy of Richard II. The tragedy being that Richard gets knocked off the English throne and tossed in the slammer where he has an emotional meltdown right before he's murdered. (Psst. You can check out the original title page here.)

What's interesting is that, later, when the first folio edition of the play (printed in 1623) came out, it was called The Life and Death of King Richard the Second. (Check out the title page here.)

What does this title change tell us? Well, the folio publishers probably thought of the work as more of a history play than a tragedy. We talk about all this tragedy vs. history stuff in "Genre," so go there if you want to know more.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement