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Lookie my paper!!! ALL DONE!!!

The King Swings That Way

Initially, when I first read the play Richard II I didn’t really give much thought to the mannerisms of the title character, I was much too busy with just trying to get through it and understand what was happening. Upon receiving the possible paper topics, and seeing that one of them dealt with the possible reading that was used in one production in which the king was portrayed as a rather effeminate man, my mind got to thinking as to why the people chose to read it the way that they did. In the end, I was at least able to understand what it was that they were going for, even if I’m not exactly sure how I feel about the particular reading, though I probably am more in favor of the idea than against it.
The unnamed but mentioned production company no doubt used the idea of stereotypes to make their reading somewhat contextual to the piece, and it is easy to understand why. Though my own opinions may not mean that I believe that each and every one of the stereotypes that are used to weave the play in a specific way are actually attributed to effeminate males, I understand that they are indeed stereotypes in which one would often attribute to a homosexual male, or at the very least, a metrosexual. Certain liberties need to be taken with the plot, or at least stretching it out a bit, for everything to work together, but in the end, it can work in the way that the production company wanted it to. While I may not have pondered even for a second that a King could be anything but a steadfast ruler with a Queen at his side, the enlightenment that was brought by the somewhat shifted reading I got the second time has certainly opened up my eyes to the possibility.
One of the biggest supporting ideas, in my mind, to the theory of casting Richard as an arguably closeted homosexual male using his queen as nothing more than a way of avoiding any sort of scrutiny involves the whole idea of anointment. Bolingbroke and his father, John of Gaunt, frequently spew forth the strong belief that, despite everything that he believes is wrong about Richard and the way that he rules the country, he can do nothing about it, because Richard was anointed by God, and God is the only one who can deliver any sort of retribution to one who has been blessed by the good lord. The first indication is as follows, as stated by John of Gaunt:

God’s is the quarrel; for God’s substitute,
His deputy anointed in his sight,
Hath caused his death; the which if wrongfully,
Let heaven revenge, for I may never lift
An angry arm against his minister. (RII 1.2 37-41)

In short, the law forbids that Bolingbroke take any sort of action against King Richard, regardless of his own personal opinions of the man. It obviously parallels the current idea of hate crimes, and the laws that go against them. While they are not protected by God, people of all walks of life are protected by the law no matter what they do, or what they believe, at least in theory. A person cannot, or can, but should not, decide to let loose some sort of retribution upon someone else just for being different. Much like a King can only be judged and punished by God, plenty of people now believe that homosexuals can only be punished by God upon their death. The way that the law of God protects Richard II from any sort of immediate reaction based on the way that he acts, both on a personal and a professional level, is much like the way that the law protects people from being harmed, regardless of which team they play on. There are still those who would forego any sort of adherence to the laws that are supposed to be followed, as Bolingbroke partially unintentionally does towards the end of the play, and as many people in the current time have done with any number of groups, and in the end, they end up having to face up to their own ideals of how God will react to them when their time is up.
One of the many traits that Richard II has that would seem to place the idea of any sort of possible homosexual flare about him involves his love of clothes. Italian clothes, no less. In an era long before the dominance of huge Italian clothing moguls like Gucci and Prada, Richard II nonetheless enjoys dressing himself only in the finest import clothing. A king, no matter who the king may well be, should not in any way be poorly dressed, but Richard II, as deemed by those who observe him, seems to concern himself more with clothing and other superficial and materialistic gains than that which a real king should concern himself with, that being the plight of his country (such as the war in Ireland), and the opinions of the people (who love Bolingbroke far more than their then current king). If this idea of loving clothes more than other, obviously more important things, is stereotypically, and almost exclusively when concerning males, attributed to gays, then it is easy to see why the production company chose to play Richard in the role of a ‘dandy.’
Joan Collins, Heather Locklear, Eva Longoria. Three generations of female gay icons, all with a few common traits amongst them. The first is obvious, they were or are all stars of television shows (Dynasty, Melrose Place and Desperate Housewives) that are supposed to have a large female bent and therefore a larger female fan base. The second is not so obvious, but probably more important in the overall scheme of things. The characters played by the women are all manipulative bitches, deliciously evil in their own unique and not so unique ways. Gay men love the women, and it is a sometimes accurate stereotype that gay men love to emulate the manipulative personalities of their lady icons. Richard II may not have had television, or the women to use as role models, but that in no way makes him no less manipulative of the people around him. If anything, the stakes of the King were much bigger than anything that could be lost or gained on Wysteria Lane.
Perhaps the biggest and most shocking manipulative and downright bitchy behavior displayed by Richard II comes when he goes to visit his dying uncle, John of Gaunt. Prior to visiting the man, Richard does not hide the fact that he is quite pleased about his uncle’s obvious demise, at least to those that are closest to him. Upon seeing the king, John, knowing full well that he is on his deathbed, decides to give some harsh words to the King, anointed or not. He calls out Richard’s hypocrisy, with the king claiming that he would never strike another of noble birth, ever playing the role of the good bitch, Richard feigns his innocence, despite his obvious guilt.

My brother Gloucester, plain well-meaning soul–
Whom fair befall in heaven ‘mongst happy souls–
May be a precedent and witness good
That thou respect’st not spilling Edward’s blood. (2.1 129-133)

Immediately following the damning speech, and the wish that Richard’s shame continue well beyond his ultimate demise, John of Gaunt goes to breathe his final breath. Shortly after, when the news of his passing is confirmed, Richard decides that he will use the power that is at his disposal and take all the land that belonged to John of Gaunt and use it to fuel his war against Ireland, a war that he will soon join in person. Despite those around him pointing out the obvious fact that the land is not his to disperse at his disposal, King Richard doesn’t care and decides to do what he wants. Alexis Carrington would be proud. Ironically, the members of the cast who are not cast in a relatively effeminate light engage in their own inner bitch by immediately deciding that Richard has gone too far and siding with the exiled Bolingbroke.
Richard II is a man who loves to get attention from the people around him. It’s one of the reasons why he is so adamant to exile Bolingbroke from the country, because he knows that his cousin, despite not being the King, is much more popular than Richard II himself. Richard II, egotistical despot that he is, doesn’t realize that Bolingbroke’s not a pompous ass like him, but wants to be loved by people, too. It can be said that most people flourish under the attention that is given to them by the people around them, be they friends or family or whatever. But, dipping back into the pool of stereotypical homosexual behavior, a gay man will act in a way that will immediately cull up some sort of attention, unwanted or not, just with the mannerisms that they display. Some, like Jack on Will and Grace crave the attention like a morphine addict. Richard II is likely a man who is utterly concerned with the way that people perceive him, and has a close knit group of people whose job it to make Richard II seem like he is more important than he probably is, and that he certainly is doing a better job than he actually is. Said group get in his good graces and are given certain benefits, which is probably why they stick around, but with the constant ego boosting and clamoring for some sort of attention, Richard II does indeed have traits that are easily identifiable with your typical effeminate male.
There are obviously clear reasons, in my mind, why the production company decided to portray Richard II in the light that they did, even if it goes against certain traits, such as Richard II willingly going into war, and having Queen Isabella by his side, but it is clear to see the foundations of the basic idea that they utilized, and maybe my own reading brought upon illuminations on the idea that they themselves hadn’t thought of.

Obviously, there are a few formatting problems when posting it in here, but they look fine on the paper. Trust me. And remember: I DO NOT NECESSARILY BELIEVE THE IDEAS USED IN THE PAPER!!! Though, the idea of some gay men being huge bitches... yeah, I buy that. Not all, of course. Come on, if you've seen Danny from Real World...


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Mar. 26th, 2006 12:45 am (UTC)
ugh! that was terrible, horrible! I can't believe how bad it was!

hahaha.. just kidding! *hugs*
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )