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Critical Essay by George D. Gopen
SOURCE: “Private Grief into Public Action: The Rhetoric of John of Gaunt in Richard II,” in Studies in Philology LXXXIV, No. 3, Summer, 1987, pp. 338-67.
In the following essay, Gopen analyzes the rhetorical structure of Gaunt's deathbed speech and discusses how this speech informs other issues in the play.
John of Gaunt's Deathbed Speech
|31||Methinks I am a prophet new inspired|
|And thus, expiring, do foretell of him:|
|His rash fierce blaze of riot cannot last|
|For violent fires soon burn out themselves;|
|35||Small show’rs last long, but sudden storms are short;|
|He tires betimes that spurs too fast betimes;|
|With eager feeding food doth choke the feeder;|
|Light vanity, insatiate cormorant,|
|Consuming means, soon preys upon itself.|
|40||This royal throne of kings, this scept’red isle,|
|This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,|
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