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In What Ways Does John Of Gaunt's Speech From Act 2 Scene 1 Develop Your Understanding Of Both His Character And His Place In The Play's Consideration Of "England And "Englishness"?

1054 words - 5 pages

The monologue of John of Gaunt delves into the perilous nature of unfettered autocracy. Gaunt proclaims that King Richard should relinquish his crown because he has figuratively raped "mother" England by exploiting the loyalty of his subjects and debasing the grandeur of "this blessed plot" for his own personal glory. The speech enables the reader to look into the character of Gaunt and his relationship with Richard. The central symbolic image centres around England and the relationship between England and the kings and thus gives us much to think about with regard to this issue.The first section of the monologue deals with the nature of Richard's vices. The staccato like verbal rhythm ...view middle of the document...

This is a fairly ambiguous line and perhaps relates to England being extremely close to heaven as an alternative sacred garden of Eden. The seclusion of England is described as being as a "fortress". This in relation to the fact of England being as an island, "This little world". It is possible to look into this further as being a relation to the "little world" of the Globe theatre where it would have been performed, the globe in relation to England and then on a larger scale the mythological world in relation to the previous point about the comparison between England and the spiritual garden of England. The relevance of the Eden parallel is that of the court influencing Rich, just as the serpent influenced Adam and Eve and thus stating the claim that a paradise such as "This demi-paradise" always has its flaws. One can read into this further as saying that Gaunt is trying to show an image of England being a microcosm of the whole world thus saying that the rest of the world is almost totally dependant on England.Gaunt also uses an element of symbolism which is also quite evident in other parts of the play. He refers to Richards "sceptred isle" which is of course the symbol of power which he uses to assert his authority in the fight between Bolingbroke and Mowbray. Gaunt asks the question of how powerful the symbols are? By placing England as a "precious stone set in the silver sea" he creates a correlation between the symbols of power and their actual representation of power. Therefore, Gaunt shows how easy it is to set oneself above mortal law.Richard failures as a king are shown as he is said to have failed to honour all of the "dear souls". His role as a pseudo landlord is shown as he has "leased out"...

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