Richard II | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Richard II | Act 3, Scene 1 | Summary

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Summary

Bolingbroke has captured Bushy and Green and now accuses them. He declares himself "a prince by fortune of my birth, / Near to the King in blood," and blames them for making the king misinterpret Bolingbroke's words and actions, which led to his banishment, as well as for taking his property while he was banished. For these things, he sentences Bushy and Green to death. Both are defiant. After Northumberland takes them away to be killed, Bolingbroke asks York to send his friendly greetings to the queen, who is staying with York. York says he has already sent such letters to her.

Analysis

Although Bolingbroke has not stated his intention to depose Richard, the thought is clearly in his mind as he describes his close relation to the king ("Near to the King in blood"). While Richard threatens the concept of inheritance by rashly seizing Gaunt's wealth, Bolingbroke plays up his shared lineage with Richard. This, along with Bolingbroke's popularity among the people, bring him to within a step of the throne.

As he calls for Bushy and Green to be brought forth, accuses them of crimes against the king and himself, and sentences them, Bolingbroke speaks with a king's authority, even though he is not one yet. He uses formal, poetic language as he describes their various crimes, sounding like Richard playing his kingly role. As Bolingbroke becomes nearer to making a claim to England's crown, he takes on more and more of the performative aspects of kingship.

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