William Shakespeare, circa 1595, read as an eBook from BlackMask.com
Richard II follows the arc of the tragic hero, where Richard, preferring to live in luxury and excess, makes a series of decisions that eventually bring about his downfall. Bollingbroke and Mowbray have a dispute, which they want Richard to adjudicate. Because Richard had used Mowbray for illegal ends, he cannot make the judgment, and ends up preventing their duel by banishing both men. This is his first series of errors, which he follows by spending too much, and unwisely taking land from nobles (including lands and riches of Bollingbroke’s father, John of Gaunt). His last mistake is pursuing war in Ireland to gather more wealth. Bollingbroke’s return during this time marks the inexorable falling of Richard’s reign.
The play’s pacing seemed better to me than that of King John, and the tension increases steadily as Richard’s fortunes turn for the worse. As nobles turn against him, one by one, or fall to Bollingbroke, we share the experience of his world collapsing.