Dorothea Kehler San Diego State University Love's Labor's Lost, which initially depicts an attempt to defeat death to announce the French king's death, displacing courtship with mourning. Death also stalks Richard II, contemporaneous with Love's Labor's Lost, transforming it from a parvum opus, a lesser history play important chiefly as prologue to the masterly Henriad, to the selfcontained story of a pitiful and terrifying confrontation with mortality. However much England's fate is bound up with its king's, however much dramatic importance accrues to Bolingbroke, our interest is focused above all on the eloquent, tormented individual who dominates the play. As Larry S. Champion observes, "conceptually Richard II is more nearly tragedy than history" (70). Expanding the boundaries of earlier Shakespearean history plays, Richard //diffuses into what Polonius calls "tragical-historical," presenting a de casibus protagonist whose plight is Everyman's. By mid-play Richard knows that he is going to die, and soon: a deposed monarch is unlikely to live long. The distance between a heretofore unengaging protagonist and his audience is lessened by the intensity of Richard's anguish. Thus, to observe the anguish of the king at bay is to risk an unwelcome confrontation with our own feelings towards death.
Rocky Mountain Review – Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association
Published: Jan 6, 1985
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