Presentation on theme: "Richard II: Engendering Show. Conclusion of Last Class: the second gage scene represents the structure of the first but brings out the element of show."— Presentation transcript:
Richard II: Engendering Show
Conclusion of Last Class: the second gage scene represents the structure of the first but brings out the element of show all men are playing out a political game oath-making becomes farce –And the farce keeps being re-presented, as evidenced in the ridiculous scene put on for Bolingbroke by the Duke and Duchess of York in 5.3.23-145. Bolingbroke’s comment about this “show”: Our scene is alt’red from a serious thing, And now changed to “the Beggar and the King” (5.3.78-79)
The “farcical show” in Act 5, which Bolingbroke dubs “the Beggar and the King,” is a contest between a man/husband (Duke of York) and a woman/wife (Duchess of York) over the life of their son, Aumerle. Remember, in the very first scene of the play, Mowbray says, 'Tis not the trial of woman's war, The bitter clamor of two eager tongues, Can arbitrate this cause betwixt us twain; The blood is hot that must be cooled for this. (1.1.47-50; emphasis mine)
Gaunt (p. 29; 2.1): "this precious stone set in a silver sea“ [England] is also "this nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings." Duchess of Gloucester (p. 11; 1.2.11-21): conceit of the seven vials/branches of Edward III --> "Ah! Gaunt, his blood was thine; that bed, that womb, / That metal, that self mold that fashioned thee, / Made him [Gloucester] a man" (21-23). Queen: (p. 39; 2.2.9-11): "Yet again methinks / Some unborn sorrow ripe in Fortune's womb / Is coming towards me." Bushy (in response to the Queen) (p. 39; 2.2.33): "'Tis nothing but conceit, my gracious lady." Duchess of York (p. 100; 5.3.99-109): "prayer" conceit; we show true prayer--we outpray him, i.e., York (with a play on "outplay"/"outpray"). Richard himself, the great "conceiter" or teller of tales (p. 103; 5.5.6-8, in prison): "My brain I'll prove the female to my soul, / My soul the father, and these two beget / A generation of still-breeding thoughts." Further Representations of Women/Femininity:
What best describes the position of women/femininity in Richard II? A)Empowered B)Disempowered
Femininity is repeatedly linked to the idea of “show” or “mere” representation. Can femininity be associated with “show” or “mere” representation and still be empowering? A)No B)Yes
The Double-Edge of Femininity and Show on the one hand, womb imagery is a very positive part of the old world vision (e.g., speeches of Gaunt and Duchess of York). But, on other hand, women and femininity are also seen in the old world view as substanceless "talk," i.e., mere conceit (e.g., Mowbray’s comments) And yet, the Queen's "unborn sorrow" metaphor is not mere conceit: it is realized in the return of Bolingbroke. And in the new world order supposedly ruled by Bolingbroke, femininity and "show" dominate, as witnessed in the Duchess of York “winning” in the mini-show “The Beggar and the King.”
What powerful woman who is a master of manipulating representation stands “in the wings” of Richard II?
In Summary: Through its association with women or the "female," the new world of "representation" and "show" (manned by Bolingbroke) is diminished: men : women : : ceremony : show But women do have power in this new world (however farcical that power may be shown). A description of the new world could be thus: it is a world where women are rulers of representation (see Queen Elizabeth).
The Engendering Mind of Richard We see Richard alone with only his mind in his final prison soliloquy (pp. 103-104; 5.5.1-66) How would you best describe Richard at this point in the play? A) Bisexual B) Resigned C) Master of language D) Aware of his uncontrol of mind E) In tune with himself
What is the significance of Richard’s extended conceit of himself as a clock, ll. 48-60? A)His time is up B)His is out of touch with natural reality C)He still sees himself as part of the Chain of Being universe D)A and B E)A and C Compare Richard’s almost grotesque conceit of himself as a mechanical clock to Elizabeth’s natural conceit of herself as a flourishing landscape in the Rainbow Portrait. Rainbow Portrait
A = very much so; B = not at all Does your attitude to Richard as a person change in the course of the play?
See the Woodman production of Richard's concluding scene (with David Birney as Richard): Does this film interpretation change your already formed conception of Richard at the end of the play (based on your reading of the text and seeing the BBC film production)? A= very much so; E = not at all