Richard II By William Shakespeare Character Analysis Henry Bolingbroke

Bolingbroke contrasts with Richard in many ways. He seems practical minded, honest, and sensitive — in many ways, the "natural" king. It is also important to realize that in the early stages of the play, Bolingbroke is, at best, a reluctant rebel. The insult to himself and his father and the urging which he receives from his peers are the determining factors in his effort to depose Richard. He is keenly aware of the magnitude of the crime which he is embarking on, and he quickly learns the tediousness of being a ruler, as is particularly evident in the scene which precedes Richard's prison cell monologue. Whereas Richard's tragic situation catapults his speech into a kind of poetry, Henry's newly placed crown lowers him down into the center of a domestic squabble. His last decision, to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, underscores his uneasiness with his new role as king.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

How many beheadings have occurred in the final scene of the play?




Quiz