Shakespeare 2020

“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

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This week we continued with the Second Part of Henry the VI. At the time this was written it was actually the first of two parts, instead of the middle installment. I cannot disagree with the scholars who claim the first part is the weaker of the plays. The second part definitely felt much stronger.

While the conflict in the first part focuses on England trying to maintain control of France, the conflict in these two parts is entirely internal as various nobles  begin to make power plays and achieve control.

2HenryVIFor this play I read it myself first, then re-read it while listening to the Arkangel Shakespeare production. If you ever have the opportunity to listen to these audio productions, I highly recommend it. I’m not typically one for audio books, but the fact is: Shakespeare was meant to be heard, not read. Listening to the language gives phrases a whole new mean and helps you understand in a way you can’t just by reading the text. The Arkangel productions are especially well done. And the Henry the VI plays have the added bonus of David Tennant as Henry VI.

One random thought I couldn’t avoid while reading this play: was Eleanor’s walk of shame the inspiration for the writers of Game of Thrones? (Though Cersei’s walk was much more humiliating – nearly to the point of making me actually feel sorry for her. Nearly.) Or was this a typical punishment for women at the time? I haven’t done much research, and it wasn’t mentioned in either of the commentaries I’ve read.

I’m also extremely interested in Queen Margaret. On the one hand, she seems to manipulative to be likable, but on the other hand she is strong-willed and knows what she wants. I love strong female characters, so I’m extremely interested to see what happens with her in the next installment (and though I’ve read Richard III years ago, I do not remember her character, so I’m curious about her there as well).

Overall this play was very exciting, and had many elements of of what would make a great summer blockbuster today – love triangles, battles, death scenes, demons.

2 thoughts on ““The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.””

  1. Charissa … When I got the first email advising me that you were renewing your blogging, I was thrilled but then, I’ll be honest, when you said that it was to do your reviews as you read through Shakespeare I was kinda “meh”. I have always WANTED to be a Shakespeare kind of reader but, alas … it was not my usual cup of tea. However. I have truly enjoyed your thoughts and your excitement and your enjoyment and look forward to reading more. While not in depth, and to be honest, that might scare me away, your thoughts are provoking enough to make me rethink my stand … particularly when you advised listening as reading, that his words were meant to be heard, not read. I can see the truth in that statement. As always, time is my enemy for something like this, however, this year I am striving to add some new reading to my *she laughs* “free time”. Perhaps I will take a page from you and add the Bard and a bit of audible. 🙂 Thank you!

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    1. Thank you, dear Keeper! I am hoping that as the year progresses I will be posting on more non-Shakespeare topics (I’m already working on a book review), so stay tuned! And if you do attempt to read/listen to some Shakespeare, I’d love to know how it goes. I’d recommend something light – Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or my personal favorite, Much Ado About Nothing. (And if you want to watch that one, the Joss Whedon film is terrific!)

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