Richard II


William Shakespeare

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Richard II: Act 3, Scene 4 Summary & Analysis

Read our modern English translation of this scene.
In the Duke of York’s garden, Richard’s Queen is still sad, despite the efforts of a Lady to cheer her up. Soon a gardener and his workers enter, and the Queen and Lady hide behind a tree to eavesdrop. The gardener gives instructions, but the men question why they should do the work when the country is in such disarray. The Gardener assures his men, though, that the person responsible for England’s bad state, Richard, and all of his men, have been captured or killed by Henry Bolingbroke. The gardener is certain that Richard will soon be deposed.
The metaphor of England as a garden is continued here. The working people refuse to work because the country is in such bad shape, legitimizing Henry’s claim and the support he received from common people. The gardener expresses the bold idea that common citizens can make demands on their king if they are dissatisfied with the state of their country.
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At this point, the Queen steps forward to confront the gardener. Using figurative language in which the gardener is figured as Adam in the garden of Eden, the Queen asks why he would say that Richard is deposed. The gardener responds that everyone has sided with Henry, making it all but certain that he will overpower and depose the king. The Queen decides to head to London to meet Richard and share in his woe, and the gardeners continue their work.
Like her husband, Richard’s Queen uses powerful figurative language. By contrast, the gardener is extremely direct in his assertion that almost all of the nobles and people have sided with Henry, and that Richard’s fall is all but certain.
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