Power as Curse or Delight in Richard II and Richard III Power is both a blessing and a curse for Richard and Henry in Shakespeare’s Richard II. Alternately, in Richard III, power is a precious instrument to be used, a delightful means by which Richard may achieve the end of destroying all those around him who in the “weak, piping time of peace” (1.1.24) in which he lives have no use for a warrior prince like himself, who “hate[s the idle pleasures of these days” (1.1.31). However, in both plays power exacts a price from those who hold it, and from those who would grasp it into their hands. That price is life, as each of the princes these plays feature either die in the struggle for and with power, or like Henry, are haunted by guilt over...The end:
..... come what may: “March on, join bravely, let us to it pell-mell. / If not to heaven, then hand in hand to hell” (5.4. 313-14). Where Richard II and Henry Bolingbroke often seem to cast power as something divine, or—as in Henry’s case—as something over which a prince should feel guilt over and do expiation for, Richard III celebrates power, both in the gaining and the losing. For this Richard, far from being a burden, power is—or was—the chief delight in life. Works Cited Richard II. The Complete Pelican Works of Shakespeare. Eds. Stephen Orgel and A. R. Braunmuller. New York: Penguin, 2002. 958-99. Print. Richard III. The Complete Pelican Works of Shakespeare. Eds. Stephen Orgel and A. R. Braunmuller. New York: Penguin, 2002. 904-57. Print.