Act Five

Was Henry at this point too young to read?  We’ll take a look a chronological time later in the month…

Act Five of The First Part of Henry the Sixth begins with Henry asking Gloucester if the Lord Protector has read the letters from the pope and the Earl of Armagnac. The letters request that Henry end his military excursion into France and to enter a time of peace.  Henry agrees that this makes sense.
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Act Four

Act Four, Scene One of The First Part of Henry the Sixth begins with Henry’s coronation on French soil.  Before Gloucester can secure an oath of loyalty from the Governor of Paris, however, Sir John Fastolf (not Falstaff) arrives with a letter from Burgundy.  The mere presence of Fastolf (a man widely regarded–within the play–as a coward) enrages Talbot so that he tears the badge of the Order of Garter off Fastolf.  After both Talbot and Gloucester berate Fastolf, King Henry banishes him from England “on pain of death” (IV.i.47).
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Act Three

Get yer roses here, folks.  Can’t tell your characters without roses!

Act Three of The First Part of Henry the Sixth begins with a meeting of the English nobles, including — for the first time in the play — our title character, the “young King Henry” (III.i.1 s.d.).  Exeter, Gloucester, and Winchester are in attendance, as are Somerset and Suffolk (with red roses), and Warwick and Richard Plantagenet (with white roses).
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Act Two, Scenes Four and Five

According to critics, Act Two, Scene Four of The first Part of Henry the Sixth is pure Shakespeare, with no credit afforded to Holinshed or his Chronicles (and more on those in a later post).  It’s a talky scene, as befits a discourse between young aristocratic lawyers. The scene is set in a “rose briar” (II.iv.1 s.d.), and here members of the two quarreling factions meet.  Not the Gloucester/Winchester factions; those factions seem to be more concerned with who shall have control over young King Henry.  No, these factions’ quarrel is over who should be king in the first place.
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Act Two, Scenes One-Three

Act Two of The First Part of Henry the Sixth begins on a siege wall, with French soldiers preparing for a late night vigil on the wall outside Orleans.  Below, Talbot, Bedford and Burgundy (a loyal French noble) discuss the military situation in preparation for an attack on the wall.  Again, the French victories are attributed to “sorcery” (II.i.15), “witches and the help of hell” (II.i.18).  As for Joan, again, they insult her in terms both promiscuous and overly masculine.  Talbot is still sure of his own power and loyalties; as he and his soldiers mount the wall, he says that he begins his attack for Salisbury and “for the right // Of English Henry” (II.i.35-36).
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Act One, Scenes One – Three (of eight)

The first scene of The First Part of Henry the Sixth has a “take notice” beginning: A funeral march for Henry V, with John, Duke of Bedford, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of Exeter, the Earl of Warwick, the Bishop of Winchester and the Duke of Somerset.  Now, I’m working on a family tree/genealogy, but suffice to say, these men are interrelated:
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Long Live King Henry

October first… fall is in the air (except here in SoCal, where Santa Anas are kicking the temps way up… oh, wait, that IS fall in SoCal… never mind)… and Petruchio’s reign that began so “politicly” last month is over…

at least for the next three months, as we read the three “parts” … plays with him in the title

Long live King Henry the Sixth!

There’s much to look forward to: the beginning of the War of the Roses, Joan la Pucelle, Talbot and his son…

OK, so that’s not “much”… In fact, I have fears that this month (and the two that follow) may be some tough sledding… I’ve looked over the first couple of scenes, and it’s… well, sloooooow.  And as I’m leaving for a conference in a couple of days, I can’t promise that I’ll have daily synopses, by act.  I’ll post daily, but I can’t promise that you’ll have the play in your pocket by the sixth of the month (hmmmm, six… Sixth… hmmmmm).

I’m going to try to keep the approach the same as always, but this month, there may be some extra non-textual stuff… we may need some historical primers.

OK, rambling over… back to reading… The First Part of Henry the Sixth

Taming by the Numbers: overall

The Taming of the Shrew:

  • 2598 total lines; shorter than average play, longer than average comedy (average play: 2777; average comedy: 2424)… though the play is shorter than the average comedy, if we remove the Induction (2321 lines)
  • At 277 lines, the Induction is the longest “prologue” scene in the Canon
  • Act One: 808 lines; longer than average, longer than average comedy (average play: 590, average comedy: 488)… though shorter than the average, if we remove the Induction (531 lines)
  • Act Two: 412 lines; shorter than average, shorter than average comedy (average play: 568, average comedy: 495)
  • Act Three: 343 lines; shorter than average, shorter than average comedy (average play: 576, average comedy: 512)
  • Act Four: 699 lines; longer than average, longer than average comedy (average play: 563, average comedy: 460)
  • Act Five: 336 lines; shorter than average, shorter than average comedy (average play: 480, average comedy: 471)
  • 541 lines of prose (only 20.82% of total lines [as opposed to The Comedy of Errors: 13.31% and Titus Andronicus: 1.39%])
  • 102 rhyming lines (only 3.93% of total lines [as opposed to The Comedy of Errors: 20.10% and Titus Andronicus: 2.42%])
  • 13 scenes; fewer than average (average play: 21; average tragedy: 16)
  • 4 disguises; Lucentio/Cambio, Tranio/Lucentio, Hortensio/Litio, Pedant/Vincentio (five, if you count Sly/Lord)

Bill Walthall (UCLA '85 English), a former high school English, Shakespeare, and Drama teacher, will read and blog about each of Shakespeare's plays, from The Comedy of Errors through The Tempest.

The Bill / Shakespeare Project