Richard II

Kingship As a Means Or An End in Shakespeare's King Richard II and King Richard III

When Edmund challenges himself to conjure the worst prophecy he can think of for the forthcoming eclipse, he not only anticipates the plot of King Lear, but also highlights the fears of Tudor political society as

unnaturalness between the child and the parent; death, dearth,

dissolutions of ancient amities; divisions in state, menaces and

maledictions against king and nobles; needless diffidences,

banishment of friends, dissipation of cohorts, nuptial breaches,

and I know not what.

These fears do not question the valediction of the different state apparatuses, rather more the disruption of order. Menaces and maledictions against a king are immediately an act of malevolence irrespective of their aims purely because they seek to upset the political balance (Edmund's fictive prophesy clearly has a certain perversion in respect of his own intentions). Here, kingship is seen as an end - the head of the body politic, God's representative on earth whose legality is not to be questioned. This assumption of a particular order inevitably leads to a host of problems; society will need to reconcile the actions of a king, no matter whether they are deemed wrong or right, and judge whether the claims of a potential usurper are valid....

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