King Henry VI, Part 3 by William Shakespeare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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.
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