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Richard II, Shakespeare, plural meanings


Lack of knowledge is a chief concern of Richard II. Throughout, whaat the audience knows is provocatively matched or exceeded by what it does not know. Information seemingly deferred remains undisclosed in a discourse of permanent deferral. Bolingbroke's purpose in accusing Mowbray, the duration and extent of Bolingbroke's ambition, Richard's reasons for exiling Mobray, Richard's feelings towards him, Richard's sexual predilections, the truth or falsity of Bagot's accusation of Aumerle, York's reasons for demanding Aumerle's death–such questions as these the play refuses to answer. In consequence, from the onset, personal and political motives in Richard II are murky; the play's ambiguity teases its spectators to construct plural meanings.