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Shakespeare’s

16 Jan 2017History Essays

The two characters Richard, Duke of York and Henry, Earl of Richmond both prepare for battle by speaking to their soldiers, painting a antithesis view of one another. Richmond’s oration to his soldiers invokes honorary revenge on the behalf of loved ones and of his country. In Act 5 and scene 3, the reader is given Richmond’s point of view. Before giving a speech to his soldiers, Richmond had dreamt that he was visited by his slain relatives. His dead relatives encouraged him to win this battle over Richard who had murdered them. This dream message becomes the fuel that ignites Richmond’s drive to conquer Richard and his men.

Richmond’s tone of voice, full sincere and determination for his soldiers, slithers into the opening of his speech in line 237 “more than I have said, loving countrymen.” (p.140) Instead of seeing his soldiers in a non-ranked way, Richmond brings them together with him in brotherhood hence his choice of word “countrymen.” This means his troops and him are end this together for the love of God. Richmond bond is together as “gentlemen” in line 245. Before giving his soldiers the last pep talk, Richmond reminds them the type of person Richard is. His speech colors Richard as a “bloody tyrant and homicide.” (line 246), a traitor and a murderer in line 255.

Richmond is more concerned with moral revenge as an act of honor to his country, to his countrymen and to God. He uses persuasion as his sword cutting through the harsh reality of what has being going on. Such as in line 247 when describing Richard as not a part of countrymen, but as person who destroys men. By rebuking to call Richard by name other than “one” or “traitor” or “tyrant,” Rchmond persuades the soldiers a cold picture of an enemy;

Richard is not one of them as indicated in these lines “one hath ever been God’s enemy/then if you fight against God’s enemy,”(252-254 ). The Duke of York continues on with this method throughout his speech, twisting and turning his words to build up the hatred that he has about his enemy onto his soldiers. He does this by reminding each soldier that he has a duty on the behalf of God and to think of each of their own lives if the battle is not one. As described within lines:

God will in justice ward you as his soldiers

If you do sweat to put a tyrant down,

You sleep in peace, the tyrant being slain;

If you do fight against your country’s foes,

Your country’s fat shall pay your pains the hire

If you do fight in safeguard of your wives,

Your wives shall welcome home the conquerors;

If you do free your children from the sword,

Your children’s children quits it in your age,

Then, in the name of God and all these rights. (254-263)

At this point Richmond breaks the bond and separates this intention to encourage each soldier to think about their wives, children, country and God while out on the battlefield. He has become a leader-their leader. If they win this battle in do so in ommitment and in honor they will be loved by their families, their offspring will benefit and as indicated in line 256 , the soldiers will be at peace knowing Richard is no longer live to take from them.

Unlike Richmond, who appears to be more sincere and honorable in who he is and what his fighting, King Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who appears to be more authoritative and direct. He es right into his oration without any regards to his men. There is no warmth but impatience with getting this battle started and over with. He provides them a dirty and ugly picture of Richmond and his soldiers. The opening lines immediately gives the reader this “What shall I say more than I inferred/ Remember whom you are to cope withal.” (p.143) Hearing this speech out loud, the reader believes that King Richard speaks rapidly without any haste or waste of words. He repeats over and over to his soldiers the type of people they will be battling.

Unlike Richmond, who is mainly out to get King Richard, King Richard lumps Richmond with soldiers as one. He calls them “vagabonds”, “rascals”, “runaways” (Shakespeare line 316), “famished beggars (Shakespeare 329). The Duke of Gloucester sees them as outcasts, “a sum of Bretons and base lackey peasants,” (Shakespeare 317). Shakespeare gives King Richard unpleasant imagery by having using grim words like “vomit” , “cold”, “poor” not only to describe the nemy but a reflection of King Richard himself as uncompassionate, cold-hearted, ruthless, and grim.

The imagery of Richard’s enemies paints his enemies as vile and disgusting like rotten scoundrels in a sewer as compared to in this line “For want of means, poor rats, had hanged themselves” (Shakespeare 331). As he rambles on about Richmond and his soldiers, Richard’s tactic that he uses in his speech is sarcasm which is scattered throughout his speech.

He does this to emotionally fuel his troops to win this battle. He insists this in hese lines:

If we be conquered, let men conquer us,

And not these bastard Bretons, whom our fathers

Have in their own land, beaten, bobbed and thumped,

And in record left them the heirs of shame (332-335)

King Richard does not want his men to carry this shame so he pushes on telling them if they lose Richmond and his men will enjoy their lands and sleep with their lives. (p.143) However, he poses this in a question form “Shall these enjoy our lands?/Lie with our wives? Ravish our daughters?” (Shakespeare 336). Again, in his speech, King Richard connects with his soldiers.

While one paints the other as scum and the other as a tyrant, Both Richmond and King Richard despise each other in different ways for different reasons. Both speeches reflect the type of men they are and the kind of soldiers they have by the description they each paint of one another as indicated earlier with several examples. Shakespeare purposely created both characters antithesis of each other that even the names are opposite. Richmond is soft and strong and Richard is cold and uncaring.

Shakespeare gives the reader metaphors and similes in both men’s speeches to reveal the character’s feelings about one another. For example he uses this device in Richmond’s speech in these line “The prayers of holy saints and wronged souls/Like high-reared bulwarks, stand before our faces,” (Shakespeare lines 241-242). Shakespeare uses personification in King Richard’s speech, but he does not highlight it. “Whom their o’ ercloyed country vomits forth/to desperate adventures and assured destruction”(Shakespeare 318-319).

These rhetorical devices enrich and support the character’s persona. King Richard’s character spills his harsh feelings towards Richmond, but in the speech, Shakespeare slides irony in the oration. “Ler’s whip these stragglers o’er the seas again. (Shakespeare line 327) King Richard calls Richmond and his soldiers “stragglers” but his tone of voice in this line and throughout the speech is that of a rogue. Shakespeare flips it around by having King Richard speak in a brash and fast pace way. Shakespeare wants the reader to know it is King Richard who is a “straggler.” Shakespeare doesn’t do this with Richmond. He gives a leader type figure, in which Richmond speaks noble, calm and with certainty.

The two very unparallel speeches provides with foreshadowing of what is about to come and who might win. The reader thinks it will be Richmond and his men based on t Richmond’s speech and how her presents himself. Richmond has a purpose to fulfill; King Richard wants a battle to remove Richmond out of the way. The King doesn’t express that side of him. He only addresses the aftermath of losing a battle. He sneakily gives his soldiers fear as hidden in these lines “You sleeping safe, they bring to you unrest/You having lands, and blessed with beauteous wives/They would restrain the one, distain the other( Shakespeare 320-322).

He wants them to worry about what would happen if they conquer their lives. He feeds his soldiers fear. Ironically, He does not provide encouragement or nobility despite him being the King of Gloucester. Shakespeare shows the reader this. Shakespeare intentions with these speeches are to draw the polar personas of both men.

Works Cited

  • Bevington, David. Ed. Shakespeare’s Richard II. New York: Bantam Book and Scott, Foresman and Company, 1980.
  • Bevington, David. Ed. Shakespeare’s Richard III. New York: Bantam Book and Scott, Foresman and Company, 1980.

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