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?