Bill Kerwin's Reviews > Henry VI, Part 1

Henry VI, Part 1 by William Shakespeare
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May 16, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 16th-17th-c-brit, tudor-drama
Read in May, 2009


Henry VI Part 1, whether it be a genuine Part 1 or a prequel (critics differ), is nevertheless one of the first three plays Shakespeare wrote. It is a marvelously well-constructed piece of stage craft, particularly given the necessarily episodic story it has to tell, involving the three-fold narrative of England's loss of France through Joan of Arc, the quarrels between Gloucester the Lord Protector and Beaufort the Bishop of Winchester, and the rise of the conflict between the Houses of York and Lancaster.

Shakespeare uses big effective scenes (the quarrel of Henry VI's "uncles" over the corpse of Henry V, the street battle between Gloucester and Beaufort's retainers, the Temple Garden dispute with its choosing of roses white and red) interspersed with continual updates to keep each strand of the plot vividly in the spectator's mind. There is surprisingly little genuine poetry here, but an abundance of vigorous blank verse and effective rhetoric. All in all, an excellent start to an unparalleled career.
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05/09/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by sologdin (last edited Sep 23, 2016 10:19AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

sologdin Two things: sorceress Joan rules, and so does Gary Taylor's interpretation here.


Phil Glad you enjoyed this, Bill. I see this play as really unfairly maligned. I've just found my (unusually long and detailed for me) review and find that I liked it an *awful* lot.


message 3: by William (new)

William Thank you for the review, Bill. As great as he was, Shakespeare only attracts me on stage, or screen, usually. Perhaps that’s the way it should be?


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