Richard II

John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
John of Gaunt is Richard’s uncle and Henry’s father. Like Richard II, he firmly believes in the divine right of kings, and he at first refuses to confront Richard for Gloucester’s murder (or any other matter) on religious grounds (since going against Richard would mean going against God, which is blasphemous). Gaunt cares deeply for his son, as upon Henry’s banishment Gaunt becomes deathly ill. On his deathbed, he speaks openly and honestly with Richard, criticizing the king for leasing out royal lands and deciding that Richard is no longer above the law as king. Gaunt dies very early on in the play, allowing Richard to seize his lands and disinherit Henry Bolingbroke.

John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster Quotes in Richard II

The Richard II quotes below are all either spoken by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster or refer to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Throne Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Richard II published in 2005.
Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

Finds brotherhood in thee no sharper spur?
Hath love in thy old blood no living fire?
Edward's seven sons, whereof thyself art one,
Were as seven vials of his sacred blood,
Or seven fair branches springing from one root.

Ah, Gaunt, his blood was thine! That bed, that womb,
That metal, that self mold that fashioned thee
Made him a man; and though thou livest and breathest,
Yet art thou slain in him.

Related Characters: Duchess of Gloucester (speaker), King Richard II, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, Duke of Gloucester, Edward III
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 1.1.9-26
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 1, Scene 3 Quotes

Shorten my days thou canst with sullen sorrow,
And pluck nights from me, but not lend a morrow.
Thou canst help time to furrow me with age,
But stop no wrinkle in his pilgrimage,
Thy word is current with him for my death,
But dead, thy kingdom cannot buy my breath.

Related Characters: John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster (speaker), King Richard II, Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV
Page Number: 1.3.233-238
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

This royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,

England,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
Feared by their breed and famous by their birth,

This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land,
Dear for her reputation through the world,
Is now leased out—I die pronouncing it—
Like to a tenement or pelting farm.

Related Characters: John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster (speaker), King Richard II
Page Number: 2.1.45-66
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt

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Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

O, but they say the tongues of dying men
Enforce attention like deep harmony.
Where words are since, they are seldom spent in vain,
For they breathe truth that breathe their words in pain.
He that no more must say is listened more
Than they whom youth and ease have taught to gloze.

Related Characters: John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster (speaker), King Richard II, Edmund of Langley, Duke of York
Page Number: 2.1.5-13
Explanation and Analysis:

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John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster Character Timeline in Richard II

The timeline below shows where the character John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster appears in Richard II. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
The Throne Theme Icon
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Honor and Appearance Theme Icon
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The play begins with King Richard, John of Gaunt, and other nobles entering the stage. Richard asks Gaunt if he has brought his son... (full context)
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...he was negligent in preventing the attack. He also admits to laying an ambush for Gaunt, but says that he has already confessed and repented for this crime, and he maintains... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
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In this scene, John of Gaunt talks with his brother’s widow, the Duchess of Gloucester. Gaunt laments his brother’s death, and... (full context)
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The Duchess of Gloucester, though, encourages Gaunt to act by appealing to his sense of brotherhood. Edward III’s sons, she says, including... (full context)
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Despite the Duchess’s intense speech, Gaunt still maintains that the quarrel must be left up to God, since Richard is king... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
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But just after his exit, Richard sees how sad Gaunt is to lose his son to banishment, so the king reduces Henry’s exile from ten... (full context)
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After the king’s exit, Gaunt tries to comfort Henry, who is distraught that he must leave his native land. Every... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
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...which Richard is funding by leasing out royal lands and imposing taxes. Richard learns that Gaunt is dying, and decides that he will use this to his advantage and seize more... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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Act 2 begins with John of Gaunt, who is sick, talking with his brother the Duke of York. Gaunt hopes the king... (full context)
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But Gaunt says that he believes himself a newly inspired prophet, and he launches a long speech... (full context)
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After Gaunt’s speech concludes, Richard enters, and Gaunt begins punning on his own name (since gaunt also... (full context)
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Richard interrupts this rant and even threatens to execute Gaunt, but Gaunt continues his tirade, saying that he should not be spared just because he... (full context)
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Upon hearing this announcement, Richard immediately decides to seize all of Gaunt’s property to support the war in Ireland. At this decision, York starts to speak out... (full context)