Richard II: The Player-King
Thus I play in one person many people,
And none contented. Sometimes I am king,
Then treasons make me wish myself a beggar,
And so I am.
V:v:31-34, King Richard II
While entangled in the throes of dramatic suspense, the self-reflexive concept of metatheatrics reminds an audience of its present relationship with the actors. Shakespeare often implements metatheatrics; exemplified by the 'play within a play' concept that occurs in both Hamlet (Shakespeare,1603) and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Shakespeare, 1596). In these and other examples, Shakespeare uses the stage as analogous to the world, and vice versa. In As You Like It (Shakespeare, 1600) Jaques succinctly demonstrates this analogy, saying "All the world's a stage,/ And all the men and women merely players" (II:vii:139). Metatheatrics are especially prevalent in the Henriad, with Kings Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, and Richard III, respectively, serving as performers in front of their court as well as literal performers on stage. Anne Righter in her study Shakespeare and the Idea of the Play describes this as the "Player-King image", in which Shakespeare illustrates the "contrast between the individual and the part which he assumed at...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 804 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 5920 literature essays, 1675 sample college application essays, 229 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in