Richard II


William Shakespeare

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Richard II: Act 2, Scene 2 Summary & Analysis

Read our modern English translation of this scene.
In this scene, Bushy and Bagot, friends of Richard, attempt to comfort Richard’s Queen, who is upset since Richard is leaving for Ireland. She says that she senses something terrible is coming, and Bushy notes the difference between true grief and the shadows of grief, which are often only imaginary. This feeling or conceit of grief, imaginary or not, is to the Queen something substantial and real.
Richard’s Queen seems to sense that Richard is making a terrible mistake, and that bad things (for her at least) are coming to England. Her discussion about grief is an example of the exploration of appearances and reality, as Bushy questions whether her grief is legitimate or merely a shadow or appearance. To the Queen, the internal idea of grief is real and substantive.
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As the discussion on grief ends, Green enters looking for Richard. Green hopes to tell Richard that Henry has returned and grouped with Northumberland, Ross, and Willoughby. After Richard’s Queen says this must be the grief she foresaw, York enters and says that he is too old and weak to properly defend England.
Green enters just too late, as Richard has already left and cannot hear the crucial information that Henry is returning to claim his inheritance. Richard has abandoned England for his Irish war and left it in the hands of York, who cannot properly defend the throne.
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A servant enters and informs everyone that the Duchess of Gloucester has died. York says that though he is related to both Henry and Richard, and he acknowledges that Richard wronged Henry, he will still side with the king because of his duty. After he exits, Bushy and Green say they’ll go to Bristol Castle, and Bagot says that he’ll go to Ireland to tell Richard what has happened. The three fear they’ll never meet again.
Though York is pulled by his blood relationship to both Henry and Richard, and though he is able to acknowledge that Richard is acting unfairly, he still (like his brother once did) believes that he has a duty to support the king, even though he doesn’t have the power to do much with that support.
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