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YMMV / Richard II

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Henry Bolingbroke has a lot of contradicting analyses. Romantics portrayed Richard as a brilliant, sophisticated, and sensitive monarch Too Good for This Sinful Earth and Bolingbroke as an opportunistic knave who took advantage of the country's thirst for change to seize a crown that wasn't his. Some recent readers view Bolingbroke more favorably, emphasizing his very justifiable grievances with the King, which spiral out of his hands into a general coup against Richard; other interpretations of the play hold that Shakespeare writes the conflict between Richard and Bolingbroke as a case of Grey and Gray Morality. The 2018 Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival production depicts the regime change as being the replacement of the old trappings of monarchy and the divine right of kings with a modern military dictatorship.
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    • American readers may be especially well-disposed towards Bolingbroke because they see him as a part of a long string of English precedents — from Magna Carta through the beheading of Charles I and the Glorious Revolution against James II — that served to end the arbitrary power of kings, and establish that properly aggrieved subjects could throw off the king's rule.
  • Foe Yay: Richard and Bolingbroke. It's relatively subtle (less so in The Hollow Crown version, where it's pretty blatant), but man, is it there.
  • Ho Yay: It's William Shakespeare, so everyone's pretty malleable, but, ye gods! Richard and Aumerle. In the 2013 RSC production with David Tennant they actually make out.
  • Incest Subtext: As mentioned above, Richard has Foe Yay with Bolingbroke and Ho Yay with Aumerle, both of whom are his first cousins (although relationships between cousins was no big deal among either Elizabethan English people or medieval royalty; the homoeroticism would have been a much bigger deal).
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  • Jerkass Woobie: Richard. He has made some very bad decisions. But he gets well fucked over and by the time of his soliloquy you really just want to hug him and give him back his shiny things.
  • Misaimed Fandom: For a play that criticizes the attitude that a monarch's right to rule is ordained by God (or at least, that this prevents or excuses the King from being bad), an inordinate number of productions portray the capricious and incompetent Richard as Too Good for This Sinful Earth.


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