In this play of challenge and debate, could it be possibly suggested that King Richard had a part to play in the murder of his uncle the Duke of Gloucester? Could the reader possibly pick up this assumption having known nothing about the play? These are all factors that one must find by reading in between the lines, noticing and understanding the silence that is exchanged. For the silence is just as important as the speech.
“Gaunt: O, spare me not, my [brother] Edward’s son,
For that I was his father Edward’s son,
That blood already, like the pelican,
Hast thou tapp’d out and drunkenly carous’d.
My brother Gloucester, plain well-meaning soul,
May be a president and witness good
That thou respect’st not spilling Edwards blood.” (II.i)
That passage simply states: You may be a king, but you could have respected my brother enough not to kill him. There is also another quote were Mowbray indirectly suggests that the King is also at fault.
“Mow: O, let my sovereign turn away his face,
And bid his ears a little while be deaf,
Till I have told this slander of his blood,
How God and good men hate so foul a liar.” (I.i)
Yet with saying this remark about the King, he also begs for his innocence.
Take honor from me, and my life is done.
Then, dear my liege, mine honor let me try;
In that I live, and for that I will die.” (I.i)
“Bull: That he [Mowbray] did plot the Duke of Gloucester’s death,
Suggest his soon-believing adversaries,
And consequently, like a traitor coward,
Sluic’d his innocent soul through streams of blood.”
The rest of the dialogue converses back and forth between Bullingbrook and Mowbray, each fighting for their own innocence. One will come to realize this by reading directly off the page and not looking for those “hidden meanings” and the silently spoken words.
The silence is just as important as the speech. One will never really know if King Richard II is at fault or not. Nevertheless, when King Richard II dies, the reader experiences an overwhelming sensation of déjà vu. When Henry IV takes over as the new King, he precisely says:
“K. Hen: Lords, I protest my soul is full of woe,
That blood shall sprinkle me to make me grow.
Come mourn with me for what I do lament,
And put on sullen black incontinent.
I’ll make a voyage to the Holy Land,
To wash his [Richard's] blood off from my guilty hand.
March sadly after, grace my mournings here;
In weeping after this untimely bier.” (V.vi)
After reading this act of conspiracy against King Richard II and after considering the fact that King Richard II might have killed his uncle, one may ask themselves a question; Is Henry IV just as guilty as King Richard II?