Results 1 to 2 of 2

Thread: Imagination in Richard II

  1. #1
    Of Subatomic Importance Quark's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Imagination in Richard II

    In Shakespeare's Richard II, the king banishes Bullingbrook for quarreling with the Duke of Norfolk. After hearing the sentence, Bullingbrook consults with his father:

    HENRY BOLINGBROKE: Nay, rather, every tedious stride I make
    Will but remember me what a deal of world
    I wander from the jewels that I love.
    Must I not serve a long apprenticehood [270]
    To foreign passages, and in the end,
    Having my freedom, boast of nothing else
    But that I was a journeyman to grief?

    JOHN OF GAUNT: All places that the eye of heaven visits
    Are to a wise man ports and happy havens. [275]
    Teach thy necessity to reason thus;
    There is no virtue like necessity.
    Think not the king did banish thee,
    But thou the king. Woe doth the heavier sit,
    Where it perceives it is but faintly borne. [280]
    Go, say I sent thee forth to purchase honour
    And not the king exiled thee; or suppose
    Devouring pestilence hangs in our air
    And thou art flying to a fresher clime:
    Look, what thy soul holds dear, imagine it [285]
    To lie that way thou go'st, not whence thou comest:
    Suppose the singing birds musicians,
    The grass whereon thou tread'st the presence strewąd,
    The flowers fair ladies, and thy steps no more
    Than a delightful measure or a dance; [290]
    For gnarling sorrow hath less power to bite
    The man that mocks at it and sets it light.

    HENRY BOLINGBROKE: O, who can hold a fire in his hand
    By thinking on the frosty Caucasus?
    Or cloy the hungry edge of appetite [295]
    By bare imagination of a feast?
    Or wallow naked in December snow
    By thinking on fantastic summer's heat?
    O, no! the apprehension of the good
    Gives but the greater feeling to the worse: [300]
    Fell sorrow's tooth doth never rankle more
    Than when he bites, but lanceth not the sore.

    JOHN OF GAUNT: Come, come, my son, I'll bring thee on thy way:
    Had I thy youth and cause, I would not stay.

    HENRY BOLINGBROKE: Then, England's ground, farewell; sweet soil, adieu; [305]
    My mother, and my nurse, that bears me yet!
    Where'er I wander, boast of this I can,
    Though banish'd, yet a trueborn Englishman.

    (I, iii)

    Henry's father believes that imagining better circumstances would improve his son's exile, while Bullingbrook thinks that fantasizing would only lead to more misery. Later in the play this argument gets reiterated by the Queen and Sir John Bushy. Who do you agree with? Does imagination only cause pain by tantalizing us with impossibilities or does it help us escape grief?

    Feel free to be as imaginative as you want with the responses
    "Par instants je suis le Pauvre Navire
    [...] Par instants je meurs la mort du Pecheur
    [...] O mais! par instants"

    --"Birds in the Night" by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). Join the discussion here:

  2. #2
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Reading, England
    King Richard has a go at trying to imagine things are better than they are when he is in his cell. He discovers it doesn't work.

    I have been studying how I may compare
    This prison where I live unto the world:
    And for because the world is populous
    And here is not a creature but myself,
    I cannot do it; yet I'll hammer it out.
    My brain I'll prove the female to my soul,
    My soul the father; and these two beget
    A generation of still-breeding thoughts,
    And these same thoughts people this little world,
    In humours like the people of this world,
    For no thought is contented. The better sort,
    As thoughts of things divine, are intermix'd
    With scruples and do set the word itself
    Against the word:
    As thus, 'Come, little ones,' and then again,
    'It is as hard to come as for a camel
    To thread the postern of a small needle's eye.'
    Thoughts tending to ambition, they do plot
    Unlikely wonders; how these vain weak nails
    May tear a passage through the flinty ribs
    Of this hard world, my ragged prison walls,
    And, for they cannot, die in their own pride.
    Thoughts tending to content flatter themselves
    That they are not the first of fortune's slaves,
    Nor shall not be the last; like silly beggars
    Who sitting in the stocks refuge their shame,
    That many have and others must sit there;
    And in this thought they find a kind of ease,
    Bearing their own misfortunes on the back
    Of such as have before endured the like.
    Thus play I in one person many people,
    And none contented: sometimes am I king;
    Then treasons make me wish myself a beggar,
    And so I am: then crushing penury
    Persuades me I was better when a king;
    Then am I king'd again: and by and by
    Think that I am unking'd by Bolingbroke,
    And straight am nothing: but whate'er I be,
    Nor I nor any man that but man is
    With nothing shall be pleased, till he be eased
    With being nothing. Music do I hear?
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

Similar Threads

  1. Coleridge "imagination and Fancy"
    By Sana Shahid in forum Coleridge, Samuel Taylor
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 11-01-2009, 12:39 PM
  2. Deep thought vs. imagination goes wild
    By ironblob in forum General Literature
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 04-03-2006, 05:30 PM
  3. Anatomy of a despot: Richard II
    By King John Antih in forum Richard II
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 07-04-2005, 07:37 AM
  4. Richard and Geoffrey
    By jack diddly squat in forum King John
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 05-24-2005, 06:07 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts