Thursday, January 20, 2011

January Reviews and Comments

After having read 1 Henry VI through twice, I still feel rather mixed about it. There were some beautiful passages of poetry, especially in the first scene with Henry V's funeral:

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.

If you have anything you'd like to share about your January Shakespeare reading, please use Mr. Linky below to link to your blog post. Use the convention YourName(play read/discussed). If you don't have a blog, please feel free to write your review in the comments section.


  1. I hope it's not spammy for me to link to each post.

  2. Hi there! I haven't finished a play yet, but have posted links and comments on a couple of rather unique productions, both reviewed by the NYTimes. Soon enough, I'll have a review of Lear, promise!

  3. I have my first book checked out of the library: The Merchant of Venice" but have yet to start it. If I read one a quarter I will make my goal so I still have time.

  4. Finished one and I have started on Measure for Measure

  5. Finished Measure for Measure now on to Two Gentleman of Verona

  6. Elena - I gave up on The Merchant of Venice. I started it on the subway one Tuesday. I was headed to DC to meet Bonnie and Marie at the Smithsonian. Anyway I gave it a try and it was going no where for me. I've returned it and checked out Othello - a publication that has the original on one page and a modern language version on the other. I think this will go easier for me.

  7. i am the Henry PLUS level. i am reading all of Shakespeare's works in 365 days. so far, i have read Comedy of Errors, 1 Henry VI, and 2 Henry VI plus Venus and Adonis, The Rape of Lucrece, and The Phoenix and the Turtle. i am currently reading 3 Henry VI. hoping to get more people to read and understand Shakespeare, just like you!!! i will mention this blog in my next entry!

  8. Finished Two Gentlemen of Verona. After a comedy moving next to the tragedy Coriolanus