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Buddy Reads > Shakespeare's History Plays

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message 1: by Minnie (new)

Minnie (minniesmiscellanies) Hello everyone!

As discussed all the way back in March, some of us would like to read Shakespeare's major history works in the order their titular characters reigned. The (very rough) plan was to read one play per month, starting with Richard II in May and ending with Richard III in December. If anyone would like to join they're heartily welcome!

I wish you a (very belated) happy buddy-reading!

message 2: by Cynda (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Minnie wrote: "Hello everyone!

As discussed all the way back in March, some of us would like to read Shakespeare's major history works in the order their titular characters reigned. The (very rough) plan was to ..."

Minnie, I am glad to be here. Will you please set out a rough plan for when we will read what? If you have any particular online resources that you suggest, maybe, that would help the rest of us. I see you Waggish link in one of your Richard II reviews posted today. I will use that info. Thanks for for your help. Let me know how I can help you as experienced Shakespeare reader.

message 3: by DaytimeRiot (last edited May 19, 2020 04:33PM) (new)

DaytimeRiot | 47 comments I would love to join! Henry IV 1 & 2 are two of my most favorite Shakespearean works.

I'm assuming we're skipping King John & Henry VIII, but are we going in the order of the historical lineage or with when Shakespeare actually wrote the plays?

Because Henry VI 1-3 were some of the first histories that Shakespeare ever wrote, and it shows, especially if they're read after Henry IV 1 & 2.

message 4: by Cynda (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments I will be using what The New Yorker sill send me in my newsfeed. Seems I cannot share if what I am linking to does not have a subscription. I tried numerous times/ways. Bummer.

I will also be using a book on my bookshelf here at home: Shakespeare's English Kings: History, Chronicle, and Drama by Peter Saccio.
Shakespeare's English Kings History, Chronicle, and Drama by Peter Saccio

message 5: by DaytimeRiot (last edited May 19, 2020 05:09PM) (new)

DaytimeRiot | 47 comments Cynda wrote: "I will be using what The New Yorker sill send me in my newsfeed. Seems I cannot share if what I am linking to does not have a subscription. I tried numerous times/ways. Bummer.

I will also be usin..."

I'm using the HarperCollins complete works edited by Peter Alexander, so I think I'll just read them in the order as they're listed and indicate spoilers as necessary as I go along.

But we're definitely starting with Richard II, then?

Also, btw, is that Richard Burton on the cover of that book? If so, then I love it.

message 6: by Cynda (last edited May 20, 2020 06:54PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Yes.
to Richard Burton :-)
to we are reading Richard II now. Minnie is reading and rereading for work on thesis or dissertation, I believe.

I am watching YouTube vid
If link does not work: The Medieval Court of Richard II How To Get Ahead Absolute History. This video is worth my watching. By watching the pyschological bio of Richard II, I hope to get a better feel for the why of the tragedy of Richard II.

message 7: by Cynda (last edited May 20, 2020 07:27PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Some Notes after watching the YouTube video.
Believing Self Superior to his court, Something more than a Lord among Lords = Unusual in a King
Requiring that others refer to him as Your Highness = Never Done Before
Confident that King is God's Antointed = Unusual in King
Need for Personal Cleanliness to the point of having Running Water and having a forerunner to the Privy Room = Unusal in a King who had always before smelled of horse, barn, field, food, and wastes.
Artistic + Flamboyant = Unusual in a King
Courtiers were Flirts to the Ladies (Ladies!) = Unusual in King's Court.
Frontal Official Portrait = Never Done Before
Royal Badges = Never Done Before
Own Private Archers = Unusual as all archers were required to serve the King.
Organized a Library, a Museum, and Started Literary aspect of Court Life = Not Done Before.
The narrator says/strongly indicates that Richard II was Too Unusual for his Own Good.
David Tennant makes guest appearance in this video. Tennant says that he played Richard II to indicate someone whose ego had been stroked since at least the age of 10 when he ascended to the throne. Tennant wore long hair as Richard II to show the king's androgynous nature. What a heady mixture: Beauty, Intelligence, and Power.

message 8: by Cynda (last edited May 22, 2020 10:28AM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments This is my second read of Richard II. The first time I just familiarized myself with the play. As Peter Saccio points out in Shakespeare's English Kings: History, Chronicle, and Drama:
[F]or the most of those who lived under the sway of the later Plantagenets and the Tudors, Richard was chiefly a king who fell.
Everything else was secondary. So that was my beginning place the first time I read Richard II. Being my second read, I will delve a little further. I will read about difficulties that precede the play. Next read, I might actually may actually dig further. Time will tell, and Saccio will help me on my way :-) After reading the chapter in Richard II, I will start reading the play, one act a day, starting probably Friday.

message 9: by Minnie (new)

Minnie (minniesmiscellanies) Hello all! Sorry for the delay, again. Got floored by a terrible migraine and am mising two full days in my head, it's terrible.
Anyways, to answer all the questions! :)

Reading schedule: I'd say let's read one act per two days? They're not long (and there's 5 of them, of course, of varying length), but that way everyone has a cushion of time of they don't have the time or motivation to read one full act in one day.

DaytimeRiot wrote: "[...] I'm assuming we're skipping King John & Henry VIII, but are we going in the order of the historical lineage or with when Shakespeare actually wrote the plays? Because Henry VI 1-3 were some of the first histories that Shakespeare ever wrote, and it shows, especially if they're read after Henry IV 1 & 2."
Yes, I'd say we should read them in order of the historical events, not in writing order. I agree with you on Henry VI, those plays intimidate me to no end and I'd like to save them for the end. They're very different animals from the Second Tetralogy (Richard II to Henry V), although I'm sure there's great potential to see Shakespeare's development as a dramatist when they're read in order of conception. But this way, Richard III comes at the very end, which is kind of like a dessert or reward for me, it's one of my very favourite histories!

Also, I have several resource books here, though not many of them in PDF format. One that I use as a kind of overview or "Wikipedia"-style reference is Shakespeare's Histories (here's my review for it). There are similar but way more in-depth variants of this type of book, The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare's History Plays being probably the most authoritative, or Shakespeare's Serial History Plays if you want to view the plays as linked in some way or other. There are more specialised books out there as well, but you'd have to know which viewpoint you'd like to look at, just because there are so friggin' many.

message 10: by Cynda (last edited May 22, 2020 12:21PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments I am rereading the two sets of the Henriad plays the way I read them last:

First Set
1. Richard II
2. Henry IV, Part1
3. Henry IV, Part2
4. Henry V

Second Set
5. Henry VI, Part1
6. Henry VI, Part 2
7. Henry, Part3
8. Richard III

The other 2 History plays describe the start and the end the difficulties of the 100 Years' War, so important, yes. Just not as often read/produced. I have read Henry VIII and was not impressed with the plot. Others read for other reasons, such as deciding how much of of this play can reasonably be attributed to Shakespeare. After I read John, I will have some comment to make.

message 11: by Cynda (last edited May 22, 2020 12:16PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments DaytimeRiot, I see you have some familiarity with Shakespeare--as I do. In spite of that, I would prefer to wait until the beginning of month to start a new play. I prefer to wait until June. I have been gently reminded that I am finishing a Battle of Troy study, concluding by reading another play by ShakespeareThe History of Troillus and Cressida. So I will return in June. If anyone is reading then, I will re-join this thread. My apologies.

message 12: by John (new)

John (traumdeuter) | 5 comments Sounds like a plan

message 13: by Cynda (last edited May 31, 2020 09:25PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments John wrote: "Sounds like a plan"

Excellent John. I plan to start in a day or two. I usually read an act a day, maybe every other day. See you here soon.

message 14: by Cynda (last edited Jun 02, 2020 09:29AM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Watching Richard II episode of The Hollow Crown.
Having watched the video The Medieval Court of Richard II, I now see how uncomfortable the lords are around Richard II. The uncles try to counsel Richard, to remind him of how things are done among the lords of the realm. Richard does not consider himself to be the first among the lords. He considers himself to be the clear leader, his highness the king. Because Richard has no precedents to rely upon, because Richard is disrespectful of his lords including his uncles, Richard is perceived to be a tyrant. The lords seek a way to resolve the problem Richard presents.

message 15: by Cynda (last edited Jun 04, 2020 09:50PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Reading Richard II
Quote from
Act I , scene 1
King Richard: Norfolk, throw down, we bid; there is no boot.

David Bevington the editor of The Complete Works of Shakespeare says that this means that there us no remedy.
. . . . . . .
Oh no . . . In this play there will be no remedy against

(Just thinking: This list is much like what would be Hamlet's list.)

message 16: by Cynda (last edited Jun 04, 2020 09:47PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Reading Richard II
Further Comment about Act 1.
The end result of the competition between Bolingbroke and Mowbray has been predetermined frim the beginning. Bolingbroke's accusation is taken up by king immediately, Bolingbrook and king kiss before the competition while Mowbray just sounds sad, knowing that they have made him a scapegoat. Poor Mowbray.

message 17: by Cynda (last edited Jun 04, 2020 09:47PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Reading Richard II
Act 2.
King seizes his uncles--now his cousin's--moveable property because he can. His uncle York calls him out, speaking of legal inheritance of property and goods going to the next generation. This happened for Richard. He became king because his father the king died. Richard does what he wants anyway. I think this is the nature of Richard. That he was so unusual a king (message 7) means that he to some significamt extent listen to his desires more than to others' guidance.

message 18: by Cynda (last edited Jun 04, 2020 09:47PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Reading Richard II
Once a leader or ruler does something that presses the envelope, it is easier for the next. Pretty general to life I think. Anyway, when Henry VIII came along he found it easier to seize the property of the Church. He put an end to the Church and then seized the Church's property, According to the play, Richard II waited for his uncle York's death while Henry VIII killed the Church. Preased envelppe even further.

message 19: by Dan (last edited Jun 03, 2020 08:26PM) (new)

Dan | 80 comments In chronological order of setting, Shakespeare’s historical plays are:

1. King John
2. Richard II
3. Henry IV Part 1
4. Henry IV Part 2
5. Henry V
6. Henry VI Part 1
7. Henry VI Part 2
8. Henry VI Part 3
9. Richard III
10. Henry VIII

message 20: by Cynda (last edited Jun 04, 2020 12:03AM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Thanks Dan. If you want to read all the history plays, you will be more than welcome. I am reading only the 2 sets of the Henriad. I do need to sometime soon read King John, and need to reread Henry VIII.

Will you join us for any/all plays.

message 21: by Cynda (last edited Jun 04, 2020 09:48PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Reading Richard II
Act 2
Some general comments.
* The queen is alone. She suffers with her intuition. She suffers more because the regent Duke of York has left. I do not want to say, "fled".

* True omens indicate things that will be if nothing changes. The Welsh were already wanting to leave, abandoning the king. So the omens indicate a deposed king. Imo.

message 22: by Cynda (last edited Jun 04, 2020 09:48PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Reading Richard II
Act 3, scene ii
King Richard waxes lyrical but does speak to the point, does not ask about troops or resources. Has he so long relied on a regent and then cousellors that he has no regal strength?

Yea, my lord. How brooks your Grace the air,
After your late tossing on the breaking seas?

King Richard:
Needs must I like it well. I weep for joy
To stand upon my kingdom once again.
Dear earth, I do salute thee with their horses' hoofs.
As a long-parted mother with her child
Plays fondly with her tears and smiles in meeting,
So, weeping, smiling, greet I thee, my earth,
And do thee favors with my royal hands.

Almost beautiful. Definitely ineffective.

message 23: by Cynda (last edited Jun 04, 2020 09:49PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Reading Richard II
Act 3, scene iii
Compare Bolingbroke's skill in managing Richard.
Noble lords,
Go to the rude ribs of that ancient castle;
Through brazen trumpet send the breathe of parley
Into his ruined ears, and thus deliver:
Henry Bolingbroke
On both his knees doth kiss King Richard's hand
And sends allegiance and true faith of heart
To his most royal person, hither come
Even at his feet to lay my arms and power,
Provided that my banishment repeal'd
And lands restor'd again be freely granted.
If not, I'll use the advantage of my power,
And lay the summer's dust with show'rs of blood
Rain'd from the wounds of slaughtered

Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove.

message 24: by Cynda (last edited Jun 04, 2020 09:49PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Reading Richard II
Act 3, scene iii
Richard tries to match his speech to the level of regality Bolingbroke has.

Cousin, I am too young to be your father
Though you are old enough to be my heir.
What you will have, I'll give, and willing too.
For do we must what force will have us do.
Set on towards London, cousin, is it so?

I can hear Richard quaking with fear. (And yes he has reason.)

message 25: by Cynda (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Reading Richard II
Acts 4 & 5
about Bishop Carlise
In Act 4. Bolingbroke is now the king of the court, Richard has promised to relinquish crown. Too late for Bishop of Carlise to speak trash to the emergent king.
In Act 5. King Henry IV (previously Bolingbroke) shows his grace and wisdom:
Carlise, this is your doom:
Choose out some secret place, some reverend room,
More than thou hast, and with it joy thy life.
So as thou liv'st in peace, die free from strife;
For though mine enemy thou hast ever been,
High sparks of honor in thee have I seen.

Since Bolingbroke was not yet king when Carlise spoke out against Bolingbroke becoming king, Carlise commited no treason. Besides ti have such a high offical in England's clergy to be treated ungently would likely have cost King Henry IV good Christian support. Too costly to punish Carlise. Better to just send him on permanent retreat.

message 26: by Cynda (last edited Jun 05, 2020 05:40PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Reading Richard II
Acts 4 & 5
What is up with Amerle? Apparently he cannot sipport his preferred king amd cannot effectively plot against his new king.
I watched The Hollow Crown epidose of Richard II. I do nit remember seeing the throwing and picking up of gauntlets that I read about in Act 4. But the scene with Amerle with his parents petitioning the king is dowmright hilarious.

message 27: by Cynda (last edited Jul 16, 2020 05:43AM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments I hope some will read with, make comments, ask questions. (We can try to find answers, seeking answers from different sources and creating new meanings together.

July: Reading King Henry IV, Part 1.
I am doing all my pre-reading work. I have continued on with another
* Hollow Crown episode/play.
* Chapter from Shakespeare's English Kings: History, Chronicle, and Drama by Peter Saccio
Shakespeare's English Kings History, Chronicle, and Drama by Peter Saccio
Shakespeare After All by Marjorie Garber
Shakespeare After All by Marjorie Garber

message 28: by Cynda (last edited Jul 20, 2020 05:28PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Reading King Henry IV, Part 1
From Act 1
King Henry IV cannot see a way for Prince Harry to become ready to lead a kingdom and young Hotspur might be ready.

King Henry IV:
Of my young Harry. O that it could be prov'd
That some night-tripping fairy had exchanged
In cradle-clothes our children where they lay,
And called mine Percy, his Plantagenet!
Then would I have his Harry, and he mine.

(Act 1, scene i)
Sir John Falstaff who is the foster parent to Hal the wild man who should be Prince Harry the regent-in-training man fears what will happen to himself when Hal becomes the new Henry V.

Marry, then, sweet wag, when thou art king,
let not us that are squires of the night's body be call'd
thieves of the day's beauty.

(Act 1, scene ii)
Prince Harry speaks in a soliloguy his committment to becoming an honorable King Henry V.

Prince Harry:
My reformation, glitt'ring o'er my fault,
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
I'll so offend to make offense a skill,
Redeeming time when men think least I will.

(Act 1, scene ii) (at very end)
The Big Question: Will Harry go the way of kingliness or the way of dissapation? Vice vs Virtue, a morality play.

message 29: by Cynda (last edited Jul 20, 2020 08:14PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Reading King Henry IV, Part 1
From Act 2
How much do They Want/Fear War.
Young Lord Percy/Hotspur is trying get away from his loving wife who on another day he will pay some attention to. But right now he wants his servant to bring him his horse.
Away, you trifler! Love? I love thee not,
I care not for thee Kate. This is no world
To play at mammets and to tilt with lips.
We must have bloody noses and cracked crowns,
And pass them current, too. God's me, my horse!

(Act 2, scene iii)
Compare this desire of Hotspur to get away to war (no really so much from his wife) with the desire of Falstaff to stay safe.
But tell me, Hal, art thou not horrible afread? Thou being heir-apparent, could the world pick thee out three such enemies again as that fiend Douglas, that spirit Percy, and that devil Glendower? Art thou not horribly afraid? Doth not thy blood thrill at it?
(Act 2, scene iv)
It is time for Hal to become the Prince of Wales. The prince says goodbye to another tavern frequenter, friend of Falstaff.
Prince Hal:
I'll to court in the morning. We must all to the wars, and thy place shall be honorable.

(Act 2, scene iv)
Hotspur is hot for war.
Falstaff is cold for war.
Hal is just right.

message 30: by Cynda (last edited Jul 20, 2020 08:40PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Reading King Henry IV, Part 1
From Act 3
What a Topsy-Turvy World this is: Love Rules in a Time of War.
Now that war plans have been made, Hotspur has time to slow down for a sweet interlude with his wife.
Hotspur to wife Lady Percy:
An the indentures be drawn, I'll away within these two hours; and so, come in when you will.

She makes no response. She might be scrambling after her husband.
(Act 3, scene i, very end)
King Henry chastizes his son the Prince Harry.
In part, Prince Harry says:
Do not think so. You shall not find it so.
And God forgive them that so much have sway'd
Your Majesty's good thoughts away from me!
I will redeem all thos on Percy' s head,
And in the closing of some gloriousmda
Be bold to tell you I am your son,
When I will wear a garment all of blood
And stain my favors in a bloody mask,
Which, washed away, shall scour my shame with it.
. . . .
King Henry:
A hundred thousand rebels die in this!
Thou shall have charge and sovereign trust herein

(Act 3, scene ii)
Love wants to be acknowledged and to forgive.
Prince Harry goes to Falstaff to charge Falstaff with the leadership of some foot soldiers.
Prince Harry:
I am good friends with my father and may do anything. . . .I have procur'd thee charg'd thee, Jack, with a charge of foot.

(Act 3, scene iii)
This may be love. This may be ridding oneself of what is unwanted. Or both.

message 31: by Cynda (last edited Jul 23, 2020 04:27PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Reading King Henry IV, Part 1
Act 4
Discomfort and Worry during final preparations for battle at Shewsbury.
Those fighting for Welsh worry that one their leaders is missing. Hotspur rallies himself to fighting strong.
. . . .Come, let me taste my horse,
Who is tobbear me like a thunderbolt
Against the bosom of the Prince of Wales.
Harry ro Harry shall, hot horse to hot horse,
Meet and nev'r part till one drop down a corse.

(Act 4, scene i)
Falstaff is just an ineffectual a leader as we would expect him to be. He has the raggediest, sorriest set of foot soldiers I have ever seen or heard of. Himself either. He tries to joke about it. Tries.
[M]y whole charge consists of ancients, corporals, lieutenants, gentlemen of companies--slaves as rugged as Lazarus in the painted cloth, where the glutton's dog licked his sores, and such as indeed were never soldiers, but discarded unjust servingmen, younger sons to younger brothers, revolted tapsters, and ostlers trad-fall'n, the cankers of a calm world and a long peace, ten times more dishonorable ragged than an old feaz'd ancient.

(Act 4, scene ii)
Prince Harry is content, hurry along but not racing to get to the battle on time. He slows down for just a moment to ask Falstaff about the foot soldiers.
Prince Harry:
But tell me, Jack, whose fellows are these who come after?. . . I never did see such pitiful rascals. . . .But, sirrah, make haste. Percy is already in the field."

(Act 4, scene ii)
The prince is such cool confidence.

message 32: by Cynda (last edited Jul 24, 2020 12:24AM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments I have finished Henry VI, Part 1.
Here is my review

message 33: by Cynda (last edited Jul 24, 2020 07:42PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Starting Henry IV, Part 2.
A dark play with darker lower comedy.
Watching the Hollow Crown version of this play was dark dark dark.
Prologue Rumor provides Prologue. How can this go well?
Act 1 Hotspur dies, the King becomes gravely ill, Sir John gets some STD, gets sent again to war, & another rebel group organizes against the king.
I find few charming quotes in the play. The ones that charm me are at the end of the play just were things start lightening again. I will not strip that relief from anyone.
I will leave my review after I reread.

message 34: by Cynda (last edited Jul 26, 2020 06:26PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Maybe just a bit of quotes
Henry IV, Part 2
Act 3, scene 2:
King Henry asks for the Mercy of Sleep and likely for the Mercy of Death,
King Henry:
. . . .Oh Sleep, O gentle sleep,
Nature's soft nurse, how I have frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?

A beautiful beg.

message 35: by Cynda (last edited Jul 26, 2020 06:47PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Henry IV, Part 2
Act 4, scene 5
Discussion of the Crown
King Henry IV
How troublesome it sat upon the head.
To thee it shall descend with better quiet.
Better opinion, better confirmation

So Henry IV prophesizes about Henry V.
Prince of Wales:
You won it, wore it, kept it, gave it me.
Then plain and right must my possession be,
Which I with more than with a common pain
'Gainst all the world will rightfully maintain.

The crown binds and separates these two.

message 36: by Cynda (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Henry IV, Part 2
Act 5, scene 4
The comeuppance of Falstaff.
Prince John says it best:
I like this fair proceeding of the King's.
He hath intent his wonted followers
Shall all be very well provided for,
But all are banish'd till their conversations
Appear more wise and modest to the world.

message 37: by Cynda (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Henry V
Act 1, Scene 2
King Henry proclaims his intent to be the warrior-king who reclaims France for England:
King Henry V:
But tell the Dauphin that I will keep my state,
Be like a king, and show my sail of greatness
When I do rouse me in my throne of France.
Yea, strike the Dauphin blind to look upon us.

And still other war-bent curses does Henry hurl at the Dauphin.

message 38: by Cynda (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Henry V
Act 2, scene 2
Henry has made his battle plans, sent off traitors to be executed, and gets himself and his men started off to France.
Henry V:
Now, lords, for France, the enterprise whereof
Shall be to you, as us, like glorious.
We doubt not a fair and lucky war,
Since God so graciously hath brought to light
This dangerous treason lurking in our way
To hinder our beginnings. We doubt not now
But every rub is smoothed on our way.
Then forth, dear countrymen! Let us deliver
Our pussiance into the hand of God,
Putting it straight in expedition
Cheerly to sea! The signs of war advance!
No king of England, if not king of France!

Henry and his soldiers go marching off to war.

message 39: by Cynda (last edited Nov 29, 2020 02:23PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Henry V
Act 4, Scene 3, Lines 18-67 (too many lines to record here)
St Crispin Day/This Band of Brothers Speech
I have seen 3 performances of this speech

Kenneth Branagh in Henry V movie(1989)
Branagh roars this speech. This movie was filmed a short enough time after the Falklands War that the English Branagh and others were asserting their patriotic energy.

Mark Rylance in Henry V play at Shakespeare's Globe (1997)
Mark Rylance has a great understated comedic spirit that informs his speech as being proud, not too much and not too understated. A medium between Branagh and Tom Hiddleston's speech.

Tom Hiddleston in Hollow Crown episode Henry V (2012)
Tom Hiddleston gives an intimate speech standing and walking among his military advisors. In 2012 we were already starting to remember our WWI dead. The English have a special Rememberance Day, something on and beyond our general Memorial Day in US.

message 40: by Cynda (last edited Nov 29, 2020 02:34PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Notes about The Hollow Crown production I watched as part of my study of Henry V:

*Henry V is played as an effective military leader who has significant amount of compassion for the towns destroyed, the young women raped, the mothers who babes would be killed. An almost compassionate warrior. Have Shakespearean history playgoers/watchers been assessed to be too sensitive to watch Henry V rattle his voice in a battle cry?

* Because Henry V as played by Tom Hiddleson is played as so compassionate a warrior, the actors playing the French King, Dauphin, ambassadors and counsellors who cannot be allowed to outshine Hemry V, all just play less smart, aware, cogent than Harry and his counsellors, almost as sitting ducks.

This is a darker vision of Henry V the play and the character. It allows little playing up and down a tone scale.

message 42: by Cynda (last edited Nov 29, 2020 03:52PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments book:Henry VI, Part 1|286792]
Act 1
We immediately meet the inner circle of the recently dead Henry V and now of his infant son and heir Henry VI. The Elizabethan audience knew who was who on the stage based on chains of office, badges, staffs, and other indicators of who is who.

After referring to my study aides and after rereading a bit, I indentified the various players initially on scene as uncles and great uncles to kings and what their positions in Henry VI's advisory group.

I can also in general ways identify the uncles' positions by their speech:

Hung be the heavens with black, yield day to night!
Comets, importing change of times and states,
Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky
And with them scourge the bad revolting stars
That have consented unto Henry's death--
King Henry the Fifth, too famous to live long!
England never lost a king of so much worth.

His arms spread wider than dragin's wings;
His sparkling eyes, replete with with wrathful fire,
More dazzled and drive back his enemies
Than midday sun fierce bent against their faces.
What should I say? His deed exceed all speech.
He ne'er lift up his hand but conquered
Bedford and Glouchester are brothers to Henry Vand uncles to Henry VI. Their speeches show elements of fierce love can be heard, the kind that the political-military family might have for each other. These two were younger brothers to Henry V and uncles to Henry VI. Bedford was Regent in France. Glouchester was both Regent in England and Lord Protector of Henry VI.
We mourn in black. Why mourn we not in blood?
Henry is dead and never shall revive.
Upon a wooden coffin we attend,
And death's dishonorable victorhpy
We with our stately presence glorify,
Like capitives bound to a triumphant car.
What? Shall we curse the planets of mishap
That plotted thus our glory's overthrow?
Or shall we think the subtle-witted French
Conjurers amd sorcerers, that afraid of him,
By magic verse have contriv'd his end?
He was a king bless'd of the King of kings.
Unto the French the Dreadful Judgement Day
So dreadful will not be as was his sight.
The battles of the Lord of hosts he fought;
The church's prayers made him so prosperois.
Exeter and Winchester are uncles to Henry V and great uncles to Henry VI. Exeter is a military leader and Wincester is a bishop. Exeter--for Shakespeare's purposes will be a minor character while Winchester will Will make trouble for Glouchester. As will Bedford.
Catching Up has recently read Jullius Ceasar. Some of that same power jealousy is happening in thus play. Actually a lot.

message 43: by Cynda (last edited Nov 30, 2020 08:35PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Henry VI, Part 1
Act 2, Scene 4
Shakespeare as Mythmaker

In the play, some of the men that Richard Plantagenet, later Duke of York, and later yet Richard II consults as advisors has started to talk of his intent to ascend the throne.

In the play as it is written indicates a garden spot as the men are plucking roses from rose bushes to give visual emphasis to their words of whether they will side with the Lancasters (red roses) or the Yorkist faction (white roses).

In the Hollow Crown version of the play, the rose bushes are in the middle of the courtyard of the court of probably the young King. To some extent, the moviemakers are indicating that Richard came into power because no one was powerful enough--the young king or his regent-protector.

A contrast. The uncles of Henry VI most distrust Glouchester for thenpower he has/has ability to gain. But Richard suspects that the rulers--2 regents and a young king along with the whole lot of royal uncles --are not as strong or mighty as they pretend to ne.

So where's the myth? The Lancastians and Yorks by tradition were already wearing white rose and red rose badges. the Tudor Rose which would be afixed to the clothing of household staff and to ceremonial garments of the royal family. Perhaps other items of clothing and personal items.

message 44: by Cynda (last edited Nov 30, 2020 08:34PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Henry VI, Part 1
Act 3, Scene 1
Seems Richard Plantagenet is correct about the Lancasters. The court scene reveals how ineffective this family has become. Their focus on each other rather than at the rask at hand has resulted in

• Failing to teach young Henry VI effective statecraft.
• Failing to understand what sport needed by the mayor to ,aintain civil peace.
• Failing to provide the men and armamemts for English soldiers in France.
• Failing to recognize that securing France for England may well be a lost cause.

Into the melee of the court, Warwick--as planned--submits documents which indicate it right and proper to raise Rick Plantangenet up to Duke ofYork for services well done in the past. Gloucester approves. King Henry complies with wishes of those who are stronger. And Richard Plantagenet in a moment becomes a princely Duke of York--princely. He follows his uncle's directions and stays as silent as possible, saying only: Thy humble servant vows obedience/And humble service till the point of death.

Done. The rest of the plan of usurping the crown can continue.

message 45: by Cynda (last edited Dec 01, 2020 07:40AM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Henry VI, Part 1
Act 5, Scene 3
Personalities and Plans Unravel.
The Pucelle is undone. Her familiar spirits will not help despite her begging them for help to undo English. . . . But she is even mire undone. The French have sold her to the English to make her pay in what way they choose.

I have been thinking about this Pucelle, this woman who provkdes personal services for the Dauphin and maybe others, this woman who is a witch who has evil familiars. At first I was tiffed at Shakespeare for making Joan the opposite of what she was and of how she perceived herself. While do not like what he did to the spiritual warrior, I do understand. Joan must be made the embodiment of what is most wrong here in the play, part 1. The political and military players can only be altered so much and still keep something of the integrity of the military-political parade. Joan being twisted into sexualized and minion-powered self provides convenient, easily understood reason of how things went so wrong. Not approving. Understanding.

message 46: by Cynda (last edited Dec 08, 2020 02:15PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Still thinking of Joan La Pucelle
of Henry VI, Part 1

I have come to an appreciation of Joan La Pucelle as she is written in the play. This Joan has military and articulation skills that make her a threat to the men around her. For the play to work and for her words to stand stronger, Joan La Pucelle must die. Yet while she still lives, Joan delivers some lines that make me quake.

When Joan finds opportunity to speak to Burgundy, she tells some truths about war and the costs of war in one's own beloved country:

Look on thy country, look on fertile France
And see the cities and the towns defac'd
By wasting ruin of the cruel foe.
As looks the mother on her lowly babe
When death doth close his tender-dying eyes,
See, see the pining malady of France!
Behold the wounds, the most unnatural wounds,
Which thou thyself hast given her woeful breast.
O, turn thy edged sword another way;
Strike those that hurt, and hurt not those who help!
One drop of blood drawn from thy country's bosom
Should grieve thee more than streams of foreign gore.
Return thee therefore with a flood of tears,
And wash away thy country's stained spots.
Act 3, scene 3

When York comes to collect Joan, she knows she will die soon. But she would curse York first:
I prithee, give me leave to curse awhile.
Act 5, Scene 3
If I were York (and the men he brought with him) I would be quaking in my boots. Afterall, York does not know that the familiars of Joan have left her.
Beyond a curse, it is also good gallows humor.

The men of the play refuse to hear a woman's pain, for her/their country or for her own life.

message 47: by Cynda (last edited Dec 31, 2020 09:27PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Henry VI, Part 2
Act 1
Between the weak king, the power-seeking uncles, autocratic queen, neglected people of the kingdom, lies and all kinds of mendacity infiltrates the court.

Witchcraft is being practiced by Duke of Gloucester's wife. She and her assistants are caught in the act if casting spells. Normally I would have to find my way to acceptance of some woman being the fall guy/gal. But there is the germ of historical truth here.

message 48: by Cynda (last edited Dec 31, 2020 09:37PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Henry VI, Part 2
Infographic of Main Characters

message 49: by Cynda (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Henry VI, Part 2
Act 3, Scene 1
The Queen, Suffolk and their co-conspirators who plan to overthrow the King fear the increasing presence/power of Richard of York. Richard of York thrills at opportunity to lead men in a way that generates loyalty. He is being sent to Ireland to deal to with difficulties there.
My brain more busy than a laboring spider
Weaves tedious snares to trap mine enemies.
Well, nobles, well, 'tis politicly done
To send me packing with a host of mem.
I fear me you but warm the starved snake,
Who cherish'd in your breasts, will sting your
'Twas men I lack'd, and you will give them me,
I take it kindly. Yet be well assur'd
You put sharp weapons in a madman's hands.
Whiles I in Ireland nourish a mighty band,
I will stir up in England some black storm
Shall blow ten thousand souls to heaven or to hell,
And this fell tempest shall not cease to rage
Until the golden circuit on my head,
Like to the glorious sun's transparemt beams,
Do calm the fury of this mad-bred flaw.
This sililoquy likens himself to a spider, calls himself a madman. I wonder who is the snake? Must be himself too. Lots of metaphors here, Shakespeare.

message 50: by Cynda (last edited Jan 07, 2021 05:25PM) (new)

Cynda | 3041 comments Henry VI Part 2
Act 3, Scene 2
Emergent War of the Roses
Richard of York has promised war on English lords/Englamd.
Now the People proclaim love for King and demand punishment of Suffolk.
Salisbury has been charged to carry the message of the People to the King:
Unless Lord Suffolk straight be done to death,
Or banished fair England's terrtories,
They will by violence tear him from your palace
And torture him with grievous ling'ring death.
They say, by him they fear your Highness' death;
And mere instinct of love and loyalty,
Free from a stubborn opposite intent,
As being thought to contradict your liking,
Makes them thus forward in his banishment.
Mayhem begins.

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