Sorry if I've been a little slack in posting things lately. I decided not to do background notes for my last Henry VI play and I'm just now trying to finish it. Please post your reviews below either in the comments or by using Mr. Linky to link to your blog post.
Added 4/4: My Review for 3 Henry VI
While part of me is saying, "phew, finally done with Henry", most of me really enjoyed the journey. Overall, the three plays are a great prologue to Richard III. I look forward to rereading that one this month with a much more thorough background knowledge of the characters, especially the title one who appeared very vicious already in 3 Henry. For example, he says in a soliloquy in Act III: "Would he [his brother, King Edward] were wasted, marrow, bones, and all, That from his loins no hopeful branch may spring, To cross me from the golden time I look for!" Edward has only recently become king, ousting Henry and yet already Richard is hoping to be rid of him and his brother George of Clarence as well. By the end, after murdering Henry in the Tower, he kisses his young nephew Edward, naming himself as Judas in an aside, perhaps foreshadowing Edward's death in the Tower yet to come.
Throughout the play, Henry becomes more priest and prophet than king. He is told not to join the various battles because his wife, young son, and knights fight better without him. Also, in Act IV his nobles say farewell, kissing his hand, and he blesses each one more like a maiden than a king: "my Hector, and my Troy's true hope. . .Sweet Oxford, and my loving Montague." However, he does bless Henry, Earl of Richmond aka Tudor, and predicts that he is England's hope. And when Richard comes to kill him, he recounts all the evil signs that came at his birth as well as the orphans, widows, and old men who will mourn because of him. I felt sorry for him, yet it was clear that Shakespeare held him and his haughty queen responsible for the civil war. Various characters hinted that if he were more like his father (Henry V) this wouldn't have happened. The Yorkists even say through (King) Edward that they would not have pursued the throne so strongly if Margaret hadn't been his wife because she cost England treasure and land in France, leading to dishonor.
It's almost unnecessary to state that this is a very violent play. From Clifford exacting revenge on Richard Plantagenet for his father's death to various sons killing their fathers and fathers killing sons to the York brothers stabbing Prince Edward (Lancaster) before his mother Margaret to Richard killing Henry VI in the Tower; I would be interested to see how all of this appeared on stage.