Tag Archives: Presentations

Presentations Day Two. 5 Nov.


Presentation 1 Recap

Student Topic 
Patrick In his presentation, Patrick directed our attention to the contest over truth that the play stages. First he defined truth through a nice explication of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave: humans in general, like the few people chained in the cave, take mistake the shadows (phenomena) for the thing-in-itself (noumena). To show how the play engages with questions of truth & perception, he drew our attention to the exchange between Gaunt and Bolingbroke in 1.3. Gaunt advises Bolingbroke to “Suppose the singing birds musicians” (1.3.288). Bolingbroke replies, “O, who can hold a fire in his hand/By thinking on the frosty Caucauses?” (1.3.293-4). We’ve seen this contest in every play we’ve read so far this semester. It’s safe to say that Shakespeare was preoccupied with the question: where does truth come from or how is truth determined? Is the world outside of people what people say it is (or what authority says it is), or do I use my senses to observe and deduce the stuff outside? Response to this question determines eco/environmental work.
Hannah M. Hannah directed our attention to the fact that the play is written entirely in verse, which has a weird effect on characterization. For instance, how does the verse form inflect the exchange between the Gardener and the Servant in lines such as “Go thou and like an executioner/Cut off the heads of too-fast-growing sprays/that look to lofty in the commonwealth” (3.4.33-35). If truth is what I say it is does how I say it matter? Hannah argues that the elevated language allows the characters to say more, but also obfuscate their private intentions. When Richard is finally alone in 5.5.41-65, Hannah argues he “uses verse to keep time; hears his failure in the discord; left with only speech and no action; and he figures himself as a clock (which is a weird instance of blazon, like we saw in Taming of the Shrew, b/c he anatomizes/allegorizes himself.
Beau Beau talked about foreshadowing/omens: Gaunt’s speech that begins, “Methinks I am prophet new inspired” (2.1.31-69); sacral kingship, “The sacred king, the human embodiment of the dying and reviving vegetation god, was supposed to have originally been an individual chosen to rule for a time, but whose fate was to suffer as a sacrifice, to be offered back to the earth so that a new king could rule for a time in his stead” (“Sacred King” Wiki); and images of decay: Garden 3.4, ex: “wasteful King” (3.4.55). What sort of proof would confirm for the audience (that Shakespeare has set up as a jury) that Richard is magic and that, by extension, divine right of kings is a real thing?
Jeffrey Jeffrey drew out attention to ways the Richard II performs loyalty. He argued one of the fault lines in the play separates try loyalists from traitors. He drew our attention to the oaths of loyalty the characters express God through the king in 1.2 & that to disobey the king is to disobey God. He wondered, give the structures of obedience, why Richard is all but abandoned by the end of act 2. I wonder, how does the same power that authorizes Richard, or divine kingship in general, also undermine it? For instance, when Richard takes Bolingbroke’s inheritance, how does he negate the same processes that ensure his right to rule. Or as York explains, “Take Hereford’s rights away and take from time/His charters and his customary rights,/Let not tomorrow then ensue today,/Be not thyself–for how art though a king/But by fair sequence and succession?” (2.1.195-99)  

Presentation 2: Sun, Caroline, & Danny

Audience, prepare yourselves for the Q&A


Richard II, Act 4: The Deposition of the King

As we watch the deposition of Richard, please keep the following prompt in mind and be prepared to discuss your responses afterward:
If in Richard II Shakespeare puts absolute sovereignty on trial to be adjudicated by the audience that he has transformed into a jury, what sorts of appeals does the play make for and against sovereignty? Which position is more compelling and why? What is your final assessment?