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!
At the same time, the battle scenes were confusing, especially the siege of Orleans. I had to keep checking to see which side was supposed to be inside the town because sometimes it seemed like they switched places. Also, I was unsure as to why France settled with the English that Charles would merely be a viceroy when it seemed like they had been winning. Was Joan of Arc's capture really that crushing of a blow? I seem to remember that in "real" history they handed her over to the English.
I think the play would have been much tighter had Shakespeare written it later. There were several layers of plot and at least three sets of characters that were vying against each other throughout besides the French and English forces as represented by Talbot and Joan of Arc. This is not unusual for Shakespeare but it seemed like too many loose ends in this case and no central story. The jockeying between the Lord Protector and Cardinal Winchester for control over the young king was one interesting strand, as was the conflict between Somerset (red rose) and York (white rose). Both were resolved quite inefficiently by their sovereign demanding them to shake hands and make peace in his name. And the final twist of Suffolk arranging the marriage of Henry with Margaret of Anjou seemed to come out of left field--who was this random earl? I suppose that's why there are two more plays to come. Overall, I'm glad I read it and look forward to seeing how Shakespeare deals with all the confusion in the next play.
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