Richard II

The "Sacred" Ordination of Kings and the Abuse of His "Subjects"

What does an author intend to convey when he repeats certain words throughout a novel or a play? William Shakespeare uses this rhetorical strategy in his famous historical play, King Richard II. The two words "sacred" and "subject" are repeated more often in this play than in any of his other works. The connotation that both of these words carry with them underscores the theme of the importance and sacred meaning in being ordained by God to be a king, and of the important duty that this role carries with it, which is to serve the people. These two themes run throughout the play, and the two terms are constantly repeated to remind the audience of their frequent violation.

Early on in the play, Richard II repeatedly declares that his subjects are to be loyal and good to him, and that they will all be treated equally regardless of their status. In the first few lines from Richard, he asks John of Gaunt whether his son is coming to settle the matter with Mowbray "as a good subject should/ On some known ground of treachery in him?" (1.1, 10-11) Richard himself, however, does not treat his subjects fairly; moreover, as we later learn, he was involved in the plot to kill his uncle, Duke of Gloucester....

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