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William Shakespeare
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Book Support Group > [Discussion] Shakespeare's Histories/War of the Roses Cycle (10 Jun - 4 Aug)

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message 1: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments This sounds really interesting, I think I'll participate.


message 2: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments What thread do we comment in?


message 3: by Ashley (last edited Jun 09, 2013 02:44PM) (new)

Ashley (icecheeseplease) Alex wrote: "What thread do we comment in?"

This one :)!


message 4: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments One interesting thing about this play from reading the intro in my complete Shakespeare is that it's 100% in verse, with it often rhyming. I don't know how common that is amongst the histories but from the comedies and tragedies I've read that really stands out and means it should be a much more flowing read than some. I really love it when you're reading Shakespeare and you start to feel the rhythm of the iambic pentameter.


message 5: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments I also want to say Mowbray's the truth teller for some reason. I've been listening to the BBC production of this with Derek Jacobi, which is on YouTube, and it really helps me get the tone and setting of a lot of it. It also really helped paint Richard as evil in scene IV as he laughed while hoping for his uncle's death.


message 6: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments Also, I thought this might end up somewhat like "eating my vegetables" because I had no idea how the histories would be, but this play is a lot of fun. Even by middle of act 2 you can see all the separate strings coming together to take down King Richard. This play has also been a lot better for great one/two liners than monologues.


message 7: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments Also, I don't know if anyone wants to or cares, but I plan on reading the Merry Wives of Windsor between Henry IV part 2 and Henry V because it takes place between them chronologically and features some characters from the Henry IV plays after the events of them both. After Henry V, I also plan on watching Orson Welles' Chimes of Midnight which is one of his masterpieces, a film that attempts to tell the whole story of the Henriad (Richard ii - Henry v) and features some dialogue from all the Henriad plays and the Merry Wives. I'd be totally up for talking about either, when it gets time for them.


message 8: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments I just finished act 3, scene 2 and damn Richard had some great monologues, that was a really poetic scene and watching the play itself made it a lot better, carrying all the emotion with the pauses and volume changes in the scene provided by the actor.


message 9: by Chris, R/bookclub Mod (new)

Chris (theheaventree) | 45 comments Mod
Act 3 is when it starts getting really good! We start to realize how terrible of a king Richard really is, and as his ability to rule diminishes his poetics become more grandiose.


message 10: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments I just finished that and I must say it was very enjoyable. Act 4 is really when you start seeing the setup for Henry IV, which was neat. Richards monologues and soliloquies throughout act 5 were pretty damn awesome. I also thought act 5 scene 2 seemed kind of meta at first in that odd Shakespearean way, talking about how everyone hates the first small actor who talks after a big event, itself being a small actor taking the stage after one of the last big scenes of Richard's. the dueling towards the end was so awesome, Richard managing to kill a couple of his attackers and avoiding his poison. I'm not really sure how to feel about Exton, he didn't strike me as evil at all really, but he def wasn't "good" either; it's sort of ironic that he comes off as evil when Aumerle's father tries to give him up and manages to be good, when they were both acting from similar places IMO. I also found the scene with Henry and Aumerle's family very odd, bordering between a weird piece of comic relief and one of the most emotional scenes in the play. I was also somewhat surprised by Henry's vow of pilgrimage ending the play, he seems like a good guy all throughout but definitely not a very holy person, quick to attempt to kill off his slanderer in a duel and to march on his former king; I'm not saying he didn't have reasons, he certainly did have just reasons, but even with just reasons these acts are still far for religious IMO. Also I found out that Richard II was obsessed with divine right, hence all the biblical allusions and dialogue throughout the play; god, I love some good biblical references in literature, they really add a much grander scope to things.

So, those are my main thoughts. Anyone else have any opinions?


message 11: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments I also think Aumerles's attempted treason will be one of the early seeds of discontent between the two houses of Lancaster and York.


message 12: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments One very last addendum: I can't wait until a video version of David Tenant's performance in the role comes out. He's playing Richard II in a royal Shakespeare company production of this play that will be out some time between the end of this year and the beginning of next year.


message 13: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments I totally agree with you Matt on the grey morality and I honk Exton was one of the major examples of that. I think the pardon,new hole appearing nice now, will just be a point of dissension and conflict later on.

Also I wouldn't be opposed at all to reading asking adjoin after these, because plays are nice and short, really fun on their own, even more fun with discussion, and he'll it's Shakespeare, reading more Shakespeare is always a good idea.

As far as those questions go, the thing that really interests me is why is Richard II written completely in verse? Henry IV part 1 is 55% verse and 45% prose, and Henry IV part 2 is split evenly 50/50 between the two. I know Shakespeare often uses prose to signify the lower classes and there aren't really any lower class people in this play, but still, I feel as though he must have similar plays of all nobility.


message 14: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments Think* Exton, and reading King John*, some typos in my last post


message 15: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments The bbc did a miniseries of the Henriad called "the hollow crown", named after a line in Richard II's deaths of kings monologue. It's a very dark adaptation of it that somewhat romanticizes the death and violence aspect. It's really cool and has a lot of great famous actors. I just watched the first episode, the Richard II one. They somewhat overdid Richard as wanting to be Jesus, but overall it was good. I'll definitely watch the second when we finish the play.


message 16: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments Which performance were you watching? For reliance on the text and base performance itself, I definitely prefer the Derek Jacobi one, but the hollow crown ones are impressive because the actors carry over and it (hopefully) works well in reinforcing the continuity. I also don't like the total lack of humor and sort of absurd wonder in the hollow crown, but they make up for that with the added visual and auditory effects, camera work, and great line up. As usual, there's positives and negatives about all of them. I'm really curious to see Orson Welles' take on the whole Henriad.


message 17: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 60 comments I listened to a reading of the play last week, but I went into it without any idea what it was about and I had a hard time following the plot. So, I did a little bit of research this weekend and listened to it again. That helped a lot.

My favorite part was the monologue by John of Gaunt at the beginning of Act II.


message 18: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments Some basic thoughts after act 1:

This is a very different Bolingbrook, despite it taking place right after, literally talking about the pilgrimage he vowed to take at the end of Richard II; it's obvious that being king has gotten to him. On top of that, what a dick wanting to swap his son for someone else, hopefully well see that severely change by the end, especially considering hotspur hates him and is planning on double crossing him. I also loved falstaff and prince Hal, really funny stuff, and yeah totally out of place with the others. The third scene was such a total tonal shift, going from dirty prose of the filthy dregs of the castle to long verse diatribes about Wars, prisoners, and kingship with nobility.


message 19: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments I'm loving Shakespeare's prose now, at first I found it so,what tedious and harder to understand than the verse, even though the prose scenes have been great, but now I'm enjoying it so much. The prince is completely the highlight of the play. I loved his talking to falstaff about the mugging and the search, and then them making fun of the king. The scene with the king and the prince was great too, first real look at Henry in the whole play, and the princes answers were also magnificent and very unexpected. Hotspur also seems like such a douchebag, just sort of gives off that vibe. I'm interested to see how this all wraps up tomorrow.


message 20: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments I just finished Henry IV part 2 and that was good, the ending was good but really only offered conclusion on the Hotspur front, you can totally tell this play is in two parts. I also loved falstaff's rise from the grave and his 'slaying' of Hotspur. He's a great character and really helped me like Shakespeare's prose, although I don't know if I can stomach the merry wives of Windsor after Henry IV part 2 because after looking at it I found out its Shakespeare's most prose work, being over 90% prose, but I want to read it to see the end of falstaff and the canonical continuations of any other characters in it, also to be able to further appreciate Welles' work. I'll probably be able to read it next weekend though, considering it is also very short.


message 21: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments I'm just following the schedule Frank. I love schedules as far as reading goes though, and will probably have no problem sticking to it from here till the end. And yeah, falstaff's end is shown in the merry wives, although many feel that merry wives is just a sequel on Shakespeare's part to tie up some loose ends and possibly do some fanservice as many people loved Falstaff, making it one of his least liked, also because of its high amount of prose. Many have also said that falstaff's character is weakened in merry wives, but I'll wait and form my own opinion on it after Henry IV part 2.


message 22: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments Shit man, I just understood your last message. Nah, I meant to say that I just finished Henry IV part 1 this week, which is why I said it only offered conclusion on the Hotspur front and not on the other inner kingdom conspiracies and Hal's maturing with falstaff and stuff. I just got an iPad and I'm shit at typing on it and let auto correct pick up most of my errors, it probably did that. Don't worry man you're right on track.


message 23: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments You're going to finish part 1 or 2 tomorrow Matt? Now everyone's confused thanks to my damn typos it seems.


message 24: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments Okay good, I also plan on starting Part 2 on Monday. I might try to finish it faster to work in the Merry Wives, but I'm not sure as of right now.


message 25: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments Am I the only one who finished Henry IV part 2 or did apathy just overcome the group? I still plan on starting Henry V tomorrow. Henry IV part 2 was by far the weakest of the bunch, which the ungodly amount of prose really didn't help. There were way too many strands and most felt irrelevant or never really came to fruition in my opinion. I'm still excited for Henry V though, it's back up to 60% verse and is widely considered one of the greatest symbols of English patriotism. I might read the merry wives later but I don't think I could stomach it's 90% prose right now, in addition to having a reputation as one of Shakespeare's weakest, despite somewhat wanting to see the end of falstaff.


message 26: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments Is anyone still reading these? I'm debating giving up now and not continuing with Henry vi, despite having fun with the 4 plays I did read.


message 27: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 60 comments I'm still planning on going through them, but I got distracted by a few other books in the last few weeks and I'm only halfway through IV part 1. The schedule has been deleted, what should we be up to now? I'll probably get through IV and V this week.


message 28: by Sasha (new)

Sasha (comicgremlin) | 26 comments We're supposed to be reading henry vi part 1 this week and finishing it up on Friday, I might pick it back up next week, I'm still unsure.


message 29: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 60 comments Alex wrote: "We're supposed to be reading henry vi part 1 this week and finishing it up on Friday, I might pick it back up next week, I'm still unsure."

OK, I'll still try to keep with it. I finished IV yesterday, but I have some catching up to do next week. It's definitely a challenge, I often find myself spacing out and realize I haven't been paying attention for a few pages. I could tell part 2 had a ton of humor in it, but I felt like I was missing most of the jokes.


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