Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Reader's Diary #329- William Shakespeare: The Third Part of Henry The Sixth (FINISHED)

Classy cover, don't you think?

Shakespeare was one of those rare breeds to make the third installment of a trilogy the best.

Unlike the first two parts, the third seems more streamlined. The plot still revolves around challenges to King Henry's throne, but all the subplots of earlier have pretty much subsided. Instead there seems to be much more interest in exploring themes of male roles in the family, especially in terms of inheritance and power.

Not to make it entirely a masculine story, Queen Margaret almost steals the show once again with her wickedness. After giving the Duke of York the news that his son has been murdered, she offers him a napkin stained with the son's blood to wipe away his tears. Then she has the duke decapitated and sticks his head upon the gates of York so that "York may overlook the town of York."

While that last line might seem like a throwaway, really not all that clever when you consider he was only named the Duke of York after the town, making the wordplay not all that playful, it was clever as a symbol. While Margaret is delighting in her own sinfulness, Shakespeare seemed to be toying with the idea of a sinister, or at least doomed, reflection. Fathers pass down legacies of revenge to their sons, brothers plot against one another, all the while having the same blood. He takes this up more blatantly later on in the play having two briefly appearing characters simply named A Son That Has Kill'd His Father and A Father That Has Kill'd His Son.

While the King Henry The Sixth trilogy ends here, I'm relieved for the first time that there'll be more to the story. King Richard the Third takes up where this one left off (fortunately with Queen Margaret still alive and kicking).

The Soundtrack:
1. Hand Me Down World- The Guess Who
2. Off With Your Head- Sleater-Kinney
3. Evil Woman- Electric Light Orchestra
4. Brother Down- Sam Roberts
5. Kings and Queens- Aerosmith

Cross posted at BiblioShakespeare.


Allison said...

I enjoy simplistic covers like that. Perhaps it depends on the author though.

Rob Hardy said...

Last year, I walked through the very gate of York that York's head was stuck on. I also visited Tewkesbury, where the final battle was fought, and saw the grave of the poor Prince of Wales, Henry VI's son, in the abbey there. It was so cool to see the plays, and then see the actual locations where the historical action took place.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You just don't see any good beheadings anymore these days.

John Mutford said...

Allison: I agree. It's why when I get a hardcover I just thorw the dust jacket away.

Rob: That would be pretty neat to see in person- even if Shakespeare did take some liberties with the historical facts.

Barbara: Oh, I'm sure if you searched the internet you'd come up with something.

(Please don't!)