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Henry VI, Part 2

by William Shakespeare

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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8812520,939 (3.6)64
John Dover Wilson's New Shakespeare, published between 1921 and 1966, became the classic Cambridge edition of Shakespeare's plays and poems until the 1980s. The series, long since out-of-print, is now reissued. Each work is available both individually and as a set, and each contains a lengthy and lively introduction, main text, and substantial notes and glossary printed at the back. The edition, which began with The Tempest and ended with The Sonnets, put into practice the techniques and theories that had evolved under the 'New Bibliography'. Remarkably by today's standards, although it took the best part of half a century to produce, the New Shakespeare involved only a small band of editors besides Dover Wilson himself. As the volumes took shape, many of Dover Wilson's textual methods acquired general acceptance and became an established part of later editorial practice, for example in the Arden and New Cambridge Shakespeares.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
If we thought there was ridiculous political bickering in the previous Henry VI play, think again; part two takes the drama to a whole other level. Between Suffolk’s machinations with Queen Margaret, Gloucester’s execution and his wife’s witchcraft, the eventual true beginnings of the Yorkist rebellion, and the peoples’ revolution, there’s no end in sight for infighting and betrayal. Starkly contrasted against Henry VI’s seeming passivity and obsession with holiness, the bloodshed that will likely come to fruition as the Yorks take up arms against the crown seems almost inevitable. If we focus on that foreground being laid, the play has much to commend it, but I found myself a bit overwhelmed while reading it – and not being at all surprised at the Hollow Crown’s blending of the three Henry VI plays into a more seamless sequence. Yes, it was historically accurate that much was going on besides the machinations around the crown during Henry VI’s reign, but if we’re meant to focus on the coming War of the Roses I could have honestly done without the petty drama of the commoners. Then again, for historical audiences, this accuracy placed them on equal(ish) grounds to the royal bickering and kept in line with the growing concerns and influence of the English commoners during Shakespeare’s time. The other element that stood out (when I could stay focused away from the constant scene jumping) is the rise of two female power players: Queen Margaret and the Duchess of Gloucester. We’ve already seen Jean d’Arc’s rise and fall in the previous play, as well as Margaret having some flirtations with the Duke of Suffolk during her marriage negotiations, and Shakespeare continues this trend. The Duchess’ scenes are decidedly witchy in nature, and even through their brevity show an interesting tone that more modern writers of this historical era (notedly Phillipa Gregory) pick up on and embellish for other women of the era. Margaret, as well, steps further into the spotlight, as she continues to plot with Suffolk, even while asserting her husband’s right to rule independently of a regent or court advisors. Her strong voice is chastised at points (much like Jean d’Arc’s earlier), but we see a seeming stumble towards madness as she speaks at length to her lover’s severed head even as she continues to establish a stronger place in Henry’s court. Grim, but powerful imagery for both, which I expect to see come full circle in the final play of this trilogy. ( )
  JaimieRiella | Sep 8, 2022 |
The star rating is based on my enjoyment/engrossment in the play, and not the quality of the writing. I couldn't stop reading this, even though it was painful. Each character I started to like either became repulsive in their actions, or died. It did inspire me to look up the actual histories of many of the characters, and though the timeline is a bit condensed, and the characters are extreme for drama's sake, it isn't that far off from what I read. ( )
  MrsLee | Jun 27, 2022 |
This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Henry VI, Part 2
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play
Pages: 276
Words: 80K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The play begins with the marriage of King Henry VI of England to the young Margaret of Anjou. Margaret is the protégée and lover of William de la Pole, 4th Earl of Suffolk, who aims to influence the king through her. The major obstacle to Suffolk and Margaret's plan is the Lord Protector; Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, who is extremely popular with the common people and deeply trusted by the King. Gloucester's wife, however, has designs on the throne, and has been led by an agent of Suffolk to dabble in necromancy. She summons a spirit and demands it reveal the future to her, but its prophecies are vague and before the ritual is finished, she is interrupted and arrested. At court she is then banished, greatly to the embarrassment of Gloucester. Suffolk then conspires with Cardinal Beaufort and the Duke of Somerset to bring about Gloucester's ruin. Suffolk accuses Gloucester of treason and has him imprisoned, but before Gloucester can be tried, Suffolk sends two assassins to kill him. Meanwhile, Richard, 3rd Duke of York, reveals his claim to the throne to the Earls of Salisbury and Warwick, who pledge to support him.

Suffolk is banished for his role in Gloucester's death, whilst Winchester (Cardinal Beaufort) contracts a fever and dies, cursing God. Margaret, horrified at Suffolk's banishment, vows to ensure his return, but he is killed by pirates shortly after leaving England, and his head sent back to the distraught Margaret. Meanwhile, York has been appointed commander of an army to suppress a revolt in Ireland. Before leaving, he enlists a former officer of his, Jack Cade, to stage a popular revolt in order to ascertain whether the common people would support York should he make an open move for power. At first, the rebellion is successful, and Cade sets himself up as Mayor of London, but his rebellion is put down when Lord Clifford (a supporter of Henry) persuades the common people, who make up Cade's army, to abandon the cause. Cade is killed several days later by Alexander Iden, a Kentish gentleman, into whose garden he climbs looking for food.

York returns to England with his army, claiming that he intends to protect the King from the duplicitous Somerset. York vows to disband his forces if Somerset is arrested and charged with treason. Buckingham swears that Somerset is already a prisoner in the tower, but when Somerset enters ("at liberty"), accompanied by the Queen, York holds Buckingham's vow broken, and announces his claim to the throne, supported by his sons, Edward and Richard. The English nobility take sides, some supporting the House of York, others supporting Henry and the House of Lancaster. A battle is fought at St Albans in which the Duke of Somerset is killed by York's son Richard, and Lord Clifford by York. With the battle lost, Margaret persuades the distraught King to flee the battlefield and head to London. She is joined by Young Clifford, who vows revenge on the Yorkists for the death of his father. The play ends with York, Edward, Richard, Warwick and Salisbury setting out in pursuit of Henry, Margaret and Clifford.

My Thoughts:

This is exactly why I don't read history for fun. People being incredible jackasses while claiming the moral high ground in any area they can.

As one anonymous blogger would say “Why did Shakespeare even get out of bed in the morning to write this stuff”? I have no idea. If my ego wasn't so big that I wanted to be able to say that I'd read all of Shakespeare's works, I'd stop reading him right now.

But my ego IS that big and I didn't actively hate this, so the journey of 10,000 papercuts continues!

★★☆☆☆ ( )
  BookstoogeLT | May 6, 2022 |
More enjoyable than I thought it would be. York is funny. ( )
  misslevel | Sep 22, 2021 |
This installment of the Henry VI trilogy turns up the body count as various factions jostle for power. Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, the King’s uncle and the protector of the realm, is seen as having too much power, so he is dispatched with extreme prejudice. The Queen’s very good friend the Duke of Suffolk is next. And then John Cade, who claims to be descended of the Mortimers, stages an uprising. And THEN the Duke of York, who was managing the King’s troops in Ireland, decides to stake his own claim to the throne. All seem to agree that Henry is more of a preacher than a prince… will he survive this treason?

It took me more than five months to finish this play (March to August 2021), which is at least partly attributable to the state of my brain during the global pandemic. But the play itself is a bit hard to get through: lots of talking heads and opportunities for the mind to wander. I think I have to watch The Hollow Crown again to get more people to hold in my head before proceeding to Henry VI, Part 3. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Aug 12, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (37 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shakespeare, Williamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brissaud, PierreIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gollancz, IsraelEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lamar, Virginia A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wright, Louis B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
First words
As by your high imperial majesty

I had in charge at my depart for France,

As procurator to your excellence,

To marry Princess Margaret for your grace,

So, in the famous ancient city, Tours,

In presence of the Kings of France and Sicil,

The Dukes of Orleans, Calaber, Bretagne and Alencon,

Seven earls, twelve barons and twenty reverend bishops,

I have perform'd my task and was espoused:

And humbly now upon my bended knee,

In sight of England and her lordly peers,

Deliver up my title in the queen

To your most gracious hands, that are the substance

Of that great shadow I did represent;

The happiest gift that ever marquess gave,

The fairest queen that ever king received.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

John Dover Wilson's New Shakespeare, published between 1921 and 1966, became the classic Cambridge edition of Shakespeare's plays and poems until the 1980s. The series, long since out-of-print, is now reissued. Each work is available both individually and as a set, and each contains a lengthy and lively introduction, main text, and substantial notes and glossary printed at the back. The edition, which began with The Tempest and ended with The Sonnets, put into practice the techniques and theories that had evolved under the 'New Bibliography'. Remarkably by today's standards, although it took the best part of half a century to produce, the New Shakespeare involved only a small band of editors besides Dover Wilson himself. As the volumes took shape, many of Dover Wilson's textual methods acquired general acceptance and became an established part of later editorial practice, for example in the Arden and New Cambridge Shakespeares.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140714669, 0141017104

 

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