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King Henry VI, Part 2

(Wars of the Roses #6)

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  5,104 ratings  ·  404 reviews
Paperback, Arden Shakespeare: Third Series, 507 pages
Published December 9th 1999 by Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare (first published 1591)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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Ahmad Sharabiani
King Henry VI, Part 2 = 2 Henry VI (Wars of the Roses #6), William Shakespeare

Henry VI, Part 2, is a history play, by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1591, and set during the lifetime of King Henry VI of England.

Henry VI, Part 2, focuses on the King's inability to quell the bickering of his nobles, the death of his trusted adviser Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the rise of the Duke of York, and the inevitability of armed conflict. As such, the play culminates with the openi
Barry Pierce
There's a whole act in which some random Irish guy literally invades London, calls himself the mayor, and is then accidentally beheaded in a garden. ...more
Bill Kerwin

Not quite as good as Henry VI, Part I--perhaps because by its very nature it possesses no beginning and no end. The first four acts, halfway between the political disputes of the "uncles" and the factional and dynastic struggles of the Wars of the Roses, are necessarily episodic and often seem formless. Shakespeare is learning his craft here, and he often over-relies on lengthy monologues and soliloquys to reveal character and motivation. There are good scenes here, often involving commoners and
"Burn all the records of the realm. My mouth shall be the Parliament of England."
- Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV.7


So, I liked Part 2 of Henry VI a lot better than Part 1. It still isn't Hamlet, but it is complicated, funny, twisted in parts. One of my favorite aspects of the play are the scenes with Queen Margaret and Suffolk. No. They aren't great people, but they are a great couple. Their parting is amazing and poetic. My other favorite part is, well, anything with Jack Cade/Sir John M
Leonard Gaya
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This one is episode 6 of Shakespeare’s massive historical drama cycle on the Plantagenet / Lancaster / York dynasty. Previously (Henry VI, Part 1), the English lords were trying to forcibly stifle the French rebellion led by a diabolical Joan of Arc, while, back in England, Gloucester and Winchester were pitched against each other and the War of the Roses was slowly brewing. This Part 2 is composed of two very different sections and storylines, sewn together into one single play.

The first part (
E. G.
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
General Introduction
The Chronology of Shakespeare's Works
Introduction, by Michael Taylor
The Play in Performance
Further Reading

--The First Part of the Contention Betwixt the Two Famous Houses of York and Lancaster

An Account of the Text
Genealogical Tables
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a very uneven play, unfortunately. The first half attempts, mostly unsuccessfully, to justify and ramp up the enmity between the Lancaster line in Suffolk and the rage of York. It's mostly just scheming and jealousy and the blame game. York wanted to have his blood tied to the King while Suffolk (at least in the play, if not in actual fact, history,) was smitten with Queen Margaret, whom he unwisely pushed off to his king instead of just making her his own, with huge overtones of Lancelo ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
Another rather confusing and violent episode in the unfortunate career of Henry VI, Part 2 covers the beginning of his troubled marriage as well as the true start to the War of the Roses which will claim so many lives until the end of Richard III. Henry loses to York and flees the capital as the play ends. I found it maybe slightly more interesting than Part 1, but still rather confusing.

I like the couplet in which York declares war on Lancaster/Henry VI:
And force perforce I'll make him yield
Sep 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My goodness, what did I just read?! Will, buddy, no. Just no.

This second part about King Henry VI starts with him getting married to Margaret of Anjou (who, by the way, was penniless but he wanted her nevertheless). In Shakespeare's play, she's the lover of Suffolk (not true but the rumour was spread in order to defame her since the English had a problem with a French queen).

Gloucester is the Lancaster's counterpart in parliament and thus to the queen, but through Suffolk Gloucester's wife is l
Jun 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Witch burning, several beheadings and a bloody civil war – buckle up, bitches, issa history play! I know that I committed a cardinal sin by reading Willie's Wars of the Roses completely out of order (heck, my reading order for just the three parts of Henry VI was completely messed up: 1 - 3 - 2) but suck it, losers, at least I did it! I read the eight damn plays, give me a break.
Can we outrun the heavens?
Overall, I have to say that Willie's history plays really grew on me over time and I al
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
First off, there is so much to this play it's hard to remember it all, but it's a doozey.

There are nobles who hate other nobles, who snipe, bait and target each other. Some end up with their heads cut off for no real discernible reason. A really good guy is strangled in his bed. And the bishop, Winchester, who's okay but not a great guy, he's poisoned. The noble who sold out England and gave back to two huge territories to France, and also brought back Margaret of Anjou, a French princess, for K
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: language
As bad a play as Part One is – this is great. This really is one of the best plays in the sequence. It quite literally has everything. Revolt, rebellion, the loss of France, a Lady MacBeth (but playing to a MacBeth that cannot be tempted by vaulting ambition – and then again maybe two Lady MacBeths for good measure), a good kinsman killed by traitors and depriving the King of advice, a good King suddenly under the sway of a group of very bad advisors, a Queen in love with someone other than the ...more
David Sarkies
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: History Buffs and Shakespeare lovers
Recommended to David by: I've always wanted to read this
Shelves: historical
The civil war begins
10 August 2012

The reason it took me so long to read this play was because after I read it the first time I felt that I had to go back and read it again to at least do it justice. As we all know Shakespeare is not the easiest author to read and moreso, being a playwright, it is a lot more difficult. Plays are not the easiest forms of literature to read because they are designed to be acted, which is a shame because a lot of plays that I would like to see, which includes Shake
João Fernandes
May 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shakespeare, drama
I've just found out Salvador Dali did illustrations for many Shakespearian plays, and it's blowing my mind. This is his take on Henry VI:
These are not Henry's arms. This is England's coat of arms, while Henry's would also have the coat of arms of France in half the shield. And this describes this entire play's king.
Childish, poorly drawn. Like a feeble shield that receives blow after blow, becoming deformed and weakened.
This is Henry VI. A feeble-minded, kind king who has lost France and whose E
Laurel Hicks
I love the Henry VI plays, especially with wacky, wicked Queen Margaret running through them. Poor Henry! I'm very fond of him, the man who would not be king:

Was ever king that joy’d an earthly throne
And could command no more content than I?
No sooner was I crept out of my cradle
But I was made a king, at nine months old.
Was never subject long’d to be a king
As I do long and wish to be a subject.
Jun 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
The only things I knew about this play going in were 1) "First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers!" and going hand in hand with this, 2) it's very, very bloody. As things turn out, as far as bloodiness goes it's not that bad - just a lot of heads on poles and many puns related to heads on poles. The sheer bloody-mindedness of the entire cast becomes a bit wearying after a while, but that's probably the point. I found myself struck by the relationship between Margaret and Henry, such as it i ...more
Katie Dimtses
Demon-summoning and random bursts of Latin give away Marlowe’s hand in the writing of this play.

3 severed heads out of 5.
Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A step up from Henry VI Pt 1. This has all the rip-roaring action and, unlike Pt 1, this one has some entertaining characters. None of them are lovable or, even, truly memorable, but Margaret's sleazy manipulations of her sweet but dim husband, and Suffolk's lust and outrageous arrogance are pretty funny, and York's crafty ambition makes a nice foil for Henry's placid limpness. Richard is shaping up nicely, and I look forward to seeing more also of Warwick and Young Clifford in Part 3. The play' ...more
From BBC One:

After the Battle of St Albans, Plantagenet and the Yorkists ride to London to claim the throne. Henry negotiates to keep the crown for his lifetime but agrees to disinherit his son Prince Edward.
Margaret is outraged and attacks Plantagenet at his house, slaughtering the duke and his youngest son Edmund. Elder brothers Edward, George and Richard escape and swear to avenge the murders and destruction of their house.
The Yorkists are victorious at the Battle of Towton and Plantagenet's
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shakespeare's first or second play, depending on whom one believes, and possibly a collaboration with Christopher Marlowe, depending on whom one believes, is given the superb Arden Shakespeare treatment, with essays regarding the text, history, and provenance of the play, as well as the superb notation of words and lines of text for which the Arden series is famous. Henry VI Part II continues the saga of the War of the Roses, with flimsy Henry faced with blatant opposition from the pretender to ...more
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What stronger breastplate than a heart untainted!
Thrice is he arm'd that hath his quarrel just,
And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel,
Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted.

In this second part of Henry VI's story, we see the bricks of the English realm begin to fall and crumble into wasted building blocks.

It seems that any bold citizen would dip their hands into the bloody cauldron filled with the jewels of English power. From lowly laborer to noble duke, conspiracy and revolt surroun
Feb 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, stage-play
QUEEN: "Are you the butcher, Suffolk? Where's your knife?"
SUFFOLK: "I wear no knife to slaughter sleeping men..." Well, that response is sorta true, but it doesn't answer the Queen's question. And it reminds me much of the way some politicians talk/lie...but I'm not naming names. The madness for power here is vividly displayed and for that reason I liked Part 2 better than Part 1. (Although I don't think I'd like to watch the play as the stage floor had to be slick with red liquid.)
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Whew. This was a BIG play!
Jan 27, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shakespeare, 2015
"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers," says the butcher in Cade's rebellion, in the most familiar line of this play. The rebellion, erupting in the fourth act, is probably the most surprising and standout aspect: some of Cade's men envision a purge of intellectuals and bureaucrats that would be right at home in the worst corners of the 20th century. Cade believes himself to be king if he can only create enough chaos and destruction. His topsy-turvy aspirations form a contrast to th ...more
Clara Biesel
May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I got goosebumps rereading it. So much good stuff in this play. If you're reading it for the first time, try and think of each scene as its own little drama. There's lots of stories as a part of the whole, but it all beats as one heart. ...more
Aug 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Many of Shakespeare's English history plays are unusual in that they are the only plays in Shakespeare's canon that do not end in the restoration of order (another exception is Troilus and Cressida).

Admittedly, they belong to a play cycle that will eventually culminate in the restoration of order. Also many of the plays end with some kind of completion of the events portrayed. Hence Richard II ends with Bolingbroke ascending to the crown that he will hold onto until his death. Henry IV Part 1 en
Amber Scaife
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The histories were the last of Shakespeare's plays for me. I'd read and loved the tragedies and comedies, but was worried that I wouldn't be able to get into the histories at all. Welp, that was wrong-headed, because they're wonderful, of course. I love the intrigue and complications and, as always, the wordsmithery. It's dripping with drama, and there's even some demon summoning; something for everyone. ...more
May 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
Again, it feels like an unfinished play on its own. I can’t see it being performed solo. Without the first one, you’re dropped in the middle of the story, and it seems to end off rather abruptly without actual attainment of the goal. This one did have some great lines and a bit more to it than the first.
Jazzy Lemon
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Contains the phrase 'Licence to Kill' ...more
trying to read all of Shakespeare's plays while on quarantine: 2/37

--- EDIT ---

3 / 5 stars !

The more I think on it, the more I find this play lackluster. Jack Cade's Rebellion may have been explosive at the end but it alone cannot really save my overall perspective on the play. So back to three stars it goes.

--- EDIT ---

3,75 / 5 stars !

Well this was a harder read compared to the first part of King Henry VI! Did I like it as much, err, not really because like other reviewers have said- there
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William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been tr ...more

Other books in the series

Wars of the Roses (8 books)
  • Richard II
  • King Henry IV, Part 1
  • Henry IV, Part 2
  • Henry V
  • Henry VI, Part 1
  • King Henry VI, Part 3
  • Richard III

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