King Richard Historically, he is said to be the handsomest man of his time; in the play, he has great charm and a love for beautiful things. His court is characterized outwardly by its luxury and refinement, but Richard's own particular favorites are greedy men who are interested primarily in the profits made from usurping land, excessive taxation, and fraud. Richard allows himself to be used by these men and, as a result, is deposed by one of his noblemen, whom he sent unfairly into exile.
Bolingbroke Henry, Duke of Hereford and Lancaster; he takes revenge on Richard after the king unfairly banishes him from England and, moreover, claims all of Henry's family lands and wealth after Henry's father, John of Gaunt, dies. Bolingbroke is a "model" Englishman and, for that reason, is not entirely convinced that he has the right to usurp the crown from a man who seems corrupt even though he is supposed to be God's deputy on earth.
York He is Richard's most powerful supporter; when Richard leaves with his forces to fight in Ireland, he leaves York in charge of England. York is honest and good throughout the play, and because of these qualities, he finally cannot condone Richard's unprincipled actions; thus he changes his allegiance to Bolingbroke and his supporters.
Aumerle York's headstrong son remains loyal to Richard throughout the play despite the fact that this loyalty threatens his relationship with his father. He even becomes involved in a plot to assassinate Bolingbroke, but at the pleading of his mother, he confesses his deed and is pardoned by Bolingbroke.
Queen Isabella She appears four times in the play and, each time, is characterized by her gentleness and her devotion to Richard. Moreover, there is a feeling of helplessness about her. Her grief becomes despair when she realizes that her husband has been deposed. She tries, however, to goad him into at least a show of valor and resistance when she speaks with him on his way to prison.
Mowbray Clearly, he had a hand in the murder of Gloucester even though he denies it. Richard exiles him for life, probably in order to remove this hand-chosen assassin from the country. Mowbray dies abroad during one of the Crusades.
Northumberland A powerful and aggressive character; his allegiance is early aligned with Bolingbroke. He fights alongside Bolingbroke and arranges for Richard's surrender. It is he who breaks up the last of Richard's conspirators.
Percy Northumberland's son. He is an eager soldier, chivalrous, and an active supporter of Bolingbroke.
Duchess of Gloucester It was the murder of her husband that caused Bolingbroke to accuse Mowbray of assassination and treason. She begs old Gaunt to take revenge on Richard; her anger is fiery and passionate. She dies of grief for her husband.
Duchess of York Her loyalty is, foremost, to her son, who is loyal to Richard. Her whole character revolves around Aumerle's safety. She herself is fearless before Bolingbroke, but she fears the latter's power to silence her son's seemingly treasonous words and deeds.
Surrey He is sympathetic with Aumerle and refutes Fitzwater's claim that Aumerle, in Fitzwater's presence, did take credit for Gloucester's death.
Carlisle He is ever-loyal to Richard because he sees Richard's role as one that was heaven-ordained. He rails against Bolingbroke but, importantly, also chides Richard for the kind of king he has been. In the end, Bolingbroke pardons him because of his unusually high character.
Abbot of Westminster He hears Aumerle's wish to revenge himself on Bolingbroke and, therefore, invites Aumerle home so that the two of them can make further plans.
Ross and Willoughby Representatives of the followers of Bolingbroke.
Fitzwater He swears that he heard Aumerle take full credit for Gloucester's murder. Surrey takes issue with this statement, and Fitzwater challenges him to a duel.
Exton Believing that Bolingbroke wishes him to kill Richard, he does so; immediately afterward, however, he is sure that he acted rashly. Bolingbroke banishes him.
Salisbury Richard leaves him in charge of the military forces while he fights in Ireland. He is upset when he discovers that he has no Welsh support for Richard when he knows that Bolingbroke and his supporters are ready to attack Richard.
Scroop He announces to Richard that the common people have championed Bolingbroke as their favorite. He appears only in Act III, Scenes 2 and 3.
Berkeley In charge of the troops guarding Bristol Castle, he is rebuked when Bolingbroke confronts him, and he refers to Bolingbroke as Hereford — and not as Lancaster.
Bushy and Green They are followers of Richard, but they are neither heroic nor staunch in their loyalty. They plot, connive, and flee at the approach of danger. Bolingbroke corners them finally and has them killed. They are representative of the low-class flatterers whom Richard surrounds himself with.
Bagot He has a part only slightly larger than Bushy and Green; otherwise, he is not distinguishable from them.