Thursday, August 10, 2006

3 Henry VI - Brief Comments

Brief after-listening comments:

1. Our son once referred to opera as a lot of people standing around shouting in Italian. There is a lot of shouting in 3 Henry VI. Again and again and again, some military leader is shouting orders or rationales or pep talks or defiances, followed by the steady beat of drums and screaming soldiers. And it's a long play. Part of it seems to be primarily a fair attempt to get so complex a story told. Did Shakespeare find this boring?

2. The central theme of the play seems to me to have to do with the tension between Henry's Christian urge for "contentment" and the opposing world of egos and political manipulators, nearly all of whom die or are marked down in Richard's little black book by play's end.

3. Thus, to some extent, Henry is the play's most interesting character for me. He is not as interesting as, say, Joan or Jack Cade. I need to re-read his remarks and career some. His respone to political breakdown seems the best, in a way -- especially with unstoppable Richard waiting in the wings. That he might have done better seems -- to me, at least -- less on Shakespeare's mind here. Perhaps Margaret is the character who develops most, but she is still unfinished by the play's end. Perhaps Warwick, who seems generally to be treated with respect, is the most ironic.

4. The early episode in which son kills father and father kills son strikes me as anachronistic, not really fitting the general tone of the play.

5. Several echoes of Tamburlaine's famous "sweet fruition of an earthly crown" speech, but, then, that must have been among the top three best-known phrases of the time.


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