For so long I lived under the impression that I did not enjoy Shakespeare’s histories as much as the comedies. Henry VI Part 3 cured me of that mistaken belief.
Honestly this play has everything that would make a movie a hit in movie theaters today: war, betrayal, murder, lust. It has it all. And I would not be exaggerating to say that I was on the edge of my seat reading this play. There are so many twists and turns throughout! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this play, and it’s probably my favorite of the three.
I have experienced this play in multiple ways in the last couple weeks. I read it alone first, then read and listened to the Arkangel recording (I just love the sound of David Tennant’s voice, even if he is portraying such a weak king), and then at the end of last week I watched both parts of Henry VI in The Hollow Crown. This two-part production is extremely well done, and it was interesting to see the choices they made in bringing the story to life in two installments instead of three parts. And Benedict Cumberbatch as Richard of Gloucester (the future Richard III) is fantastic. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see any of the Hollow Crown, I highly recommend it.
I’ve also been learning a lot about the War of the Roses through the course of reading these plays. Isaac Asimov does a great job of detailing where Shakespeare deviates from history, and filling you in on the real details. His Guide to Shakespeare is a must-have if you want to dive deep into these plays.
I knew The Song of Ice and Fire was inspired by the War of the Roses, and while I had made a small connection to Game of Thrones in the last play, that inspiration was even more prevalent in part 3 as I read about Edward’s insult to the French King by sending Warwick to arrange a marriage, only to choose to marry a commoner while he was away. I could almost hear the Rains of Castamere playing as I red those scenes.
Despite my newly discovered interest in the history plays, I’m looking forward to something lighter and cannot wait to start reading The Comedy of Errors.