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Henry VI, Part 3

by William Shakespeare

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7151923,772 (3.7)36
In their lively and engaging edition of this sometimes neglected early play, Cox and Rasmussen make a strong claim for it as a remarkable work, revealing a confidence and sureness that very few earlier plays can rival. They show how the young Shakespeare, working closely from his chronicle sources, nevertheless freely shaped his complex material to make it both theatrically effective and poetically innovative. The resulting work creates, in Queen Margaret, one of Shakespeare's strongest female roles and is the source of the popular view of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick as `kingmaker'. Focusing on the history of the play both in terms of both performance and criticism, the editors open it to a wide and challenging variety of interpretative and editorial paradigms.… (more)
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English (18)  Swedish (1)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
The third part of Shakespeare's Henry VI deals with the War of the Roses and the horrors of this civil war. The play is often criticized for just being a collection of one battle scene after the other. Although there are a lot of battle scenes these help reinforce how awful the civil war is and reflects how is quick reversals affect the commoners in the kingdom. All of the leading figures make political and military blunders throughout the play.

King Henry VI is a weak king whose weak leadership helps trigger the civil war. The 3rd Act includes his reflections on how horrible the war is for everyone. In contrast, the future King Richard III shows himself to be decisive and relatively more successful as a leader. The play also shows him as he begins to develop his totally ruthless schemes to become king. Another key figure is Queen Margaret who show great decisiveness and also extreme ruthlessness. The contrast between these three figures is fascinating. Reading Henry VI parts 2 and 3 really help the reading of the more famous Richard III.

The Folger edition of this play is excellent. In addition to easily accessed footnotes, the concluding essay discussing Henry VI is better than what is found in most other Folger editions. Even better, the suggestions for further reading contains short summaries of the articles and books referenced which help the interpretation of the work. ( )
  M_Clark | May 2, 2021 |
The basics are: surprisingly good play, makes Richard III into an even better play, wish it had a different title so people would actually perform it.

Seriously, though, I’ve always been a bit dissatisfied by Richard’s character arc in Richard III, and I’ve now realized it’s because that play starts part of the way through his story. Henry VI Part 3, in addition to a lot of other good stuff, goes a long way towards making Richard seem more like a real person figuring out where he fits into the world, and it does that mostly by giving more time to the relationship between the three sons of York. Not that it makes him sympathetic, lol. But it explains him more.

Lots of good stuff as always from King Henry (the molehill speech and death prophecy) and Margaret (just her whole vibe). Four battles, which is maybe a bit much. Lots of people changing allegiance on a dime. Probably Shakespeare’s biggest play for on-screen child murder.

(Actually read in my Bantam six-volume set) ( )
1 vote scoutmaria | Apr 5, 2021 |
The most Games-of-Thronesy entry yet in the Henriad. Weak king, strong king, Lancaster, York, they're all just spokes in the wheel. ( )
  poirotketchup | Mar 18, 2021 |
This 3rd play about King Henry VI wasn't as enjoyable for me as the first 2. Perhaps it is because, as an American, I didn't learn about these people as a child but I struggled with the fact that although the events in the play covered ~10 years, there were few markers about time passing. I also noted the Tudor bias about Richard of Gloucester and many of the other Planteganets much more in this one.

I listened to the LibriVox full cast audiobook which was good though a few of the minor characters were a little hard to follow. Luckily I was reading along in my Kindle omnibus "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare"! ( )
  leslie.98 | Mar 13, 2021 |
I'm very happy with this play. It's easily up to the standards we're used to in Shakespeare, proper, lifting us out of his early and unsure works into something very entertaining. Some people might disagree, but here's the fact: history was this fucked up.

Some liberties are made to make the play much more streamlined and dramatic, of course, but that's only to be expected when we're putting 30 years into the space of 3 plays. By this point in the action, though, we're steeped in nothing but action and strife. We have the benefit of characters we've grown to know and love on both sides of the fence, too, full of all these past enmities and woe, rising to a complete clusterfuck of civil war from nearly equally matched foes that JUST WON'T END.

There's talk of Water versus Wind, and that's not a bad analogy at all for this war.

Hell, this play is about a hot potato in the shape of a crown.

You might as well use sports metaphors, too. They pass the crown across the rink so many times, with so many players being knocked down or injured or screamed at or outright killed, it just reminds me of a friendly game of hockey.

I loved Warwick, the kingmaker. I REALLY loved Margaret, the Queen. She's always been a fantastically strong character, but in this play, she's a merciless hell-beast of valor. Clarence was a dream of vengeance, all the York, especially young Richard who becomes Richard III, is displayed just as much as the iconoclastic villain from his later play and just as interesting here as there.

The conflicts are both emotional and sooo bloody. The only source of peace anywhere in the play comes only from Henry VI, himself, while being generally an valor-less pansy, always sticks to his guns as a peacemaker and conciliator, even when Richard stabs him in the Tower at the end. He never changes. He never grows wrathful, merely depressed and resigned, which I think I understand and sympathize with, entirely.

I was enraged with each new twist and horror in the play, though, so perhaps Henry gets lost in the fray... perhaps except for readers who are more than willing to rest his or her bruised mind and wonder at the sheer insanity of this hell-sport, wishing rather the world would come to rest and peace rather than even one more second of this horror. Just see how he is when he learns that his son is dead.

It, at least, raises him up in my eyes as someone just as strong as all the rest, just different and even a bit alien to the spirit of either the times or even what people would assume might be natural. BUT, he is always in tune with the spirit of Christ, in always forgiving his enemies no matter the wrongs they do him, and even when we drop our jaws at all the wrongs that have been done to him, he holds to his ideals.

No real pansy could pull that off.

Truly, this play was pretty damn powerful. ( )
1 vote bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (66 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Shakespeareprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brooke, C. F. TuckerEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cairncross, A. S.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ridley, M. R.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tennant, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I wonder how the king escaped our hands.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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In their lively and engaging edition of this sometimes neglected early play, Cox and Rasmussen make a strong claim for it as a remarkable work, revealing a confidence and sureness that very few earlier plays can rival. They show how the young Shakespeare, working closely from his chronicle sources, nevertheless freely shaped his complex material to make it both theatrically effective and poetically innovative. The resulting work creates, in Queen Margaret, one of Shakespeare's strongest female roles and is the source of the popular view of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick as `kingmaker'. Focusing on the history of the play both in terms of both performance and criticism, the editors open it to a wide and challenging variety of interpretative and editorial paradigms.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140714677, 0141018437

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