As part of both my quest to read 100 books and my quest to read all of Shakespeare’s plays, I have decided to read the War of the Roses tetralogy. Henry VI, Part 1 begins the cycle and introduces the waning fortunes of the English in the 100 Years’ War. It also sets the stage for the political machinations that will ultimately lead to the crowning of Richard III. This play is often criticized for its reliance on battle scenes to advance the action, rather than subtlety and dialogue. I disagree with this criticism. I understand the notion that a talented playwright can describe action better than it can be shown, but description can sometimes make the action seem too remote. At this particular point in English history, war was the central feature of all aspects of life. The only way to communicate the absolute dominance of the martial sphere over all other elements of society is to put the action front and center. Shakespeare does so wonderfully in Henry VI, Part 1. I look forward to reading the rest of the cycle.
On another note, I will be using these plays as relief from longer works when I need a break. I don’t want Shakespeare to dominate the blog too much, but occasionally I need some time off from 500+ page books. Shakespeare seemed like a good choice.
The Current Count:
40 Read, 60 To Go
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