Soliloquies Essay - Self-Realization in Richard II's Final Soliloquy

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Self-Realization in Richard II's Final Soliloquy

William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of King Richard II, first published in a quarto edition in 1597, is the first in a sequence of four history plays known as the second tetrology, which deal with the early phases of a power struggle between the houses of Lancaster and York. The Richard II of the play has been called both mercurial and self-indulgent; however, several sustained soliloquies in the play demonstrate how deeply realized his character is. During one of these soliloquies, which takes place after his imprisonment and before his murder, he seems to rediscover the qualities of pride, trust, and courage that he lost when dethroned-and so goes onward to meet his
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(5.5.6-11)

Aside from the obvious metaphorical qualities of this sentence, that he is creating a world within himself, symbolic relationships seem to exist between some of the words. He names his ìsoulî the ìfather,î as if to express the relationship of God with the soul (i.e., God is the father of the soul). And he places his brain as the female to his soul, implying that the brain nurtures and cares for the soul, who was begat by God. These two concepts are then linked together, as the mother (perhaps symbolic of Mother Earth) and the father (symbolic of God) produce a generation of ìstill-breedingî thoughts-as in the world outside Richard's prison, where God and the Earth have produced people that are constantly breeding. In this way, Richard creates the same relationship within himself as exists in the natural world.

It is probably significant that Richard speaks of the thoughts and the people as not being contented, because in an historical context the peoples of England had been in revolt since the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 (McKay et al., 452). McKay, Hill, and Butler state that the Peasants' Revolt was probably the largest single uprising of

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