richard ii from ceremony to farce n.
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Richard II : From Ceremony to Farce. What happens to Richard in the radically changing universe of the play where old Chain of Being values no longer apply?. Richard’s literal, physical descent after Bolingbroke’s speech: 3.3.61-70, p. 64, to 3.3.177-182, pp. 67-68.

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Richard II : From Ceremony to Farce


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Presentation Transcript
slide2
What happens to Richard in the radically changing universe of the play where old Chain of Being values no longer apply?
slide3
Richard’s literal, physical descent after Bolingbroke’s speech:3.3.61-70, p. 64, to 3.3.177-182, pp. 67-68.
  • Richard descends from atop the battlements of Flint Castle to the “base court.”
the structure of the elizabethan public stage
The Structure of the Elizabethan Public Stage:
  • New Globe (exterior), 1996
  • Sketch of the Swan Theater (by Johannes de Witt), c. 1596
  • New Globe (stage), 1995
  • New Globe (heavens), 1996
  • Heavenly masquer who might be lowered from the “heavens” (1605)
  • Sketch of Globe (heavens and deux ex machina)
  • New Globe (stage and galleries), 1997
slide5

The overhanging canopy was called the “heavens” and the stage represented “the earth.”What did the yard or pit stand for where the groundlings stood?

  • Street
  • Hell
  • Field
  • Parlor
  • Slum
slide6
On his downward trajectory from his high place as King, Richard comes to understand “Perspectural" destabilization:
  • He comes to see his ordered universe (ordered by the old concept of the Chain of Being) as itself a “mere” fabricated conceit, or maskedness.
  • He comes to see himself as mere story, a “representation,” increasingly open to interpretation.
  • And, in viewing his reign thus awry, he comes to see the grievous skull in the picture of his ordered universe (his own mortality); 3.2.144-77, pp. 58-59
slide7
Richard loses his sense of stable self, which is prelude to his losing
  • His place (King)
  • His name (speaking of himself in the third person, he says, “Must he lose / The name of king? A God’s name, let it go” (3.3.144-145, p. 33)
  • His very being, as he becomes at the opening of Act 4, “nothing” (l. 200, p. 81)
    • “Ay, no; no, ay: for I must nothing be”
ay no no ay for i must nothing be
“Ay, no; no, ay: for I must nothing be”

Could someone come up and write out on the board a possible translation of the first words of this line?

  • Possible interpretations of “Ay, no; no ay”:
  • Yes, no; no, yes
  • Yes, no; no I
  • I, no; no, I
  • I know no I
how sympathetic are you to richard s plight
How sympathetic are you to Richard’s plight?

A) extremely sympathetic

B) very sympathetic

C) moderately sympathetic

D) not very sympathetic

E) not at all sympathetic

slide10
In his death-bed speech, John of Gaunt reproaches the King, nostalgically invoking the old Chain of Being order: 2.1.1-68 (pp. 28-29)
  • This speech belongs to the world of the first tournament: a ceremonious, static, corporate world (a chain of being).
slide11

What is the significance that in Gaunt’s long death-bed invocation of the old Chain of Being order, he finally introduces the verb to his sentence at l. 59: "Is now leas'd out“?

  • The delayed verb stresses just how long-winded Gaunt is
  • The delayed verb stresses the destabilizing of being by its sudden detaching of land from established identity through “leasing”
  • The delayed verb shows how important it is for economics to finally enter into Gaunt’s and Richard’s vision
ceremony re presented
Ceremony Re-presented

4.1.1-90 (pp. 74-78) clearly evokes the gage scene that opens the play.

But it is left out of the BBC production.

Let’s enact it: we need 8 volunteers, using books for gages. Aumerle, Fitzwater, and Surrey need two books/gages. 

slide13
What is Shakespeare's most likely purpose in inserting this second gage scene at this point in the play?
  • To show that problems don’t go away
  • To show that a world without order is farcical
  • To show that the de-identification of a world of “ceremony” results in the institutionalization of a world of “show”
  • A and B
  • B and C
conclusion
Conclusion:
  • 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 in the ridiculous scene put on by the Duke and Duchess of York for Bolingbroke 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)