Review: Henry VI, Part 3, William Shakespeare

Okay, I did actually forget all about my project to read all of Shakespeare’s plays, but DO NOT WORRY.  I have remembered it now and I shall carry right on with it.  I just finished reading Henry VI, Part 3, which is nice because I’m all done with Henry VI and can move along to my boy Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

Remember how I said Part 2 was more like it than Part 1?  Not exactly like it, but more?  I regret to report that I can’t say the same thing of Part 3.  It’s all, Okay, now Edward is the King!  No, Henry!  No, Edward!  I know that’s how history went, but sometimes history is silly.  Sometimes when you are making a story out of history, you have to make it more cohesive than it actually was, and run the risk that history buffs will shriek THAT IS NOT HOW IT HAPPENED at you the next time they see you at a bear-baiting.  Shakespeare does not manage to do this, and indeed makes the story even sillier than it has to be.

You may recall that a character in Part 1 wished that he could shoot his eyeballs at another guy’s face.  In Part 3, Warwick says this:

I had rather chop this hand off at a blow,
And with the other fling it at thy face.

Now, is that the kind of thing a Kingmaker would say?  He wants to chop off his hand and fling it at Edward VI’s face.  All because Edward married the widow Woodville and made Warwick look like an idiot in front of the King of France.  Some people are grudge-holders.

Then at the end of the play, it’s suddenly Richard III: The Prologue.  I now expect that Richard III, which I have never read, will start out with, Previously, on Shakespeare’s Version of English History.  Richard (not yet the Third) gets down with the evil monologues; he murders Henry VI and starts chattering about how evil he is and how many other evil things he’s going to do.  He’s going to kill his brand-new nephew, and both of his brothers, because he is just that wicked.  (This doesn’t count as a spoiler, by the way, because none of that ever really happened.  Bah.)

There was this one line I liked, though.  They’re talking about whether to kill Queen Margaret, who has managed to be the most consistently bad-ass character in this trilogy of mediocre plays, and Richard says, “Why should she live, to fill the world with words?”  I love this as an acknowledgement of how dangerous this woman can be.  Why should she live, to fill the world with words?

Okay, I did actually forget all about my project to read all of Shakespeare’s plays, but DO NOT WORRY.  I have remembered it now and I shall carry right on with it.  I just finished reading Henry VI, Part 3, which is nice because I’m all done with Henry VI and can move along to my boy Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

Remember how I said Part 2 was more like it than Part 1?  Not exactly like it, but more?  I regret to report that I can’t say the same thing of Part 3.  It’s all, Okay, now Edward is the King!  No, Henry!  No, Edward!  I know that’s how history went, but sometimes history is silly.  Sometimes when you are making a story out of history, you have to make it more cohesive than it actually was, and run the risk that history buffs will shriek THAT IS NOT HOW IT HAPPENED at you the next time they see you at a bear-baiting.  Shakespeare does not manage to do this, and indeed makes the story even sillier than it has to be.

You may recall that a character in Part 1 wished that he could shoot his eyeballs at another guy’s face.  In Part 3, Warwick says this:

I had rather chop this hand off at a blow,
And with the other fling it at thy face.

Now, is that the kind of thing a Kingmaker would say?  He wants to chop off his hand and fling it at Edward VI’s face.  All because Edward married the widow Woodville and made Warwick look like an idiot in front of the King of France.  Some people are grudge-holders.

Then at the end of the play, it’s suddenly Richard III: The Prologue.  I now expect that Richard III, which I have never read, will start out with, Previously, on Shakespeare’s Version of English History.  Richard (not yet the Third) gets down with the evil monologues; he murders Henry VI and starts chattering about how evil he is and how many other evil things he’s going to do.  He’s going to kill his brand-new nephew, and both of his brothers, because he is just that wicked.  (This doesn’t count as a spoiler, by the way, because none of that ever really happened.  Bah.)

There was this one line I liked, though.  They’re talking about whether to kill Queen Margaret, who has managed to be the most consistently bad-ass character in this trilogy of mediocre plays, and Richard says, “Why should she live, to fill the world with words?”  I love this as an acknowledgement of how dangerous this woman can be.  Why should she live, to fill the world with words?

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “Review: Henry VI, Part 3, William Shakespeare

  1. This is VERY funny, but doesn’t improve my opinion of Shakespeare. I’m sure it says terrible things about me, but after all these years I still cannot find a way to reconcile myself to the works of the Bard. He must have that X-factor, objectively I see that’s true. But it just doesn’t quite work for me.

  2. I’m ashamed to say this, but I haven’t read any Shakespeare at all, I mean the original works (I’ve read mostly abridged versions) 😦 It wasn’t part of my school curriculum, so I never ended up reading.

    • To be honest, though Shakespeare is cool to read, the best thing you could possibly do is see his plays performed. I read a number of his plays in school, but it’s when I saw them performed that I really felt how absolutely magical they are. I think Romeo & Juliet was the first of Shakespeare’s plays I ever saw – an acting troupe came and did it for our high school – and even though I’d just got through reading it in English class, I was staggered by how funny and brilliant and sad and clever it was. There’s no substitute for live theatre, but can I suggest the film of Much Ado About Nothing? It’s one of my favorite of his plays, and the film is excellent.

    • I love the Reduced Shakespeare Company! I have their Shakespeare one on DVD, and it cracks me up every time I watch it. Especially Macbeth, with their idiotic accents. (I’m giggling just thinking about it.)

      • I think you are the only other person in the world I know who loves TRSC! So exciting. I loved their Hamlet rendition! Cut the crap Hamlet, my biological clock is ticking, and i want babies now!

    • Aw, thank you! I expect I won’t say anything very funny when I get to his really good plays and have to exhaust my supply of superlative adjectives. 😛

  3. I’ve never been to the Globe, but I have seen a play of his at Stratford-upon-Avon. To be fair, I liked that one best. And I did enjoy the film with Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thomson (can’t for the life of me think which play that was now). I know, I know, try not to think the worse of me for it. It’s just a missing piece of DNA or something.

    • Much Ado About Nothing! I am very, very fond of that film – I had such a crush on Denzel Washington in that movie. 😛 If you ever get a chance, really, go to the Globe, see one of his plays as a groundling. And if you can, get there a bit early so you can be right up by the stage. I’ve done it several times and it’s absolutely magical. I love live theatre anyway, but being a groundling at the Globe is the best way to see a play; you get absolutely caught up in the action. Ferdinand in The Tempest shook my hand, and Touchstone in As You Like It fussed at me for laughing at him.

      I don’t think worse of you! I’m just sad for you because I love Shakespeare soooo much, and my life would be less awesome without him. 😛

  4. Pingback: Richard III, William Shakespeare « Jenny's Books

    • Seriously, I have no idea. I have been a great big Anglophile my whole life, so I’ve picked up bits and pieces of knowledge; and for some reason, in the summer of 2006, I memorized all the British monarchs in chronological order from William the Conqueror up to Elizabeth II. So there’s a lot of stuff I don’t know – especially about the monarchs before Edward IV – but I have all these facts in my brain about the different kings and queens (Edward I was incredibly tall & conquered Wales; Richard the Lionheart’s marriage was apparently never consummated; Henry II was Thomas Becket; Victoria had mysterious hemophilia).

  5. Pingback: Wrapping up 2009 « Jenny's Books

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s