A nest of hollow bosoms. (CHORUS, Henry V: II.0.18-21)
Henry VI II: Act I
It’s a strange thing, patriotism.
I’ll try to make this the final time I mention how I don’t feel especially patriotic towards England as opposed to Britain, but the beginning of the play causes me to examine my attitudes again.It probably says something about my pedantic nature that I can’t simply conflate the two.Or maybe it’s simply the fact that my Welsh girlfriend would probably dump me!Either way, I suddenly became acutely aware of an inchoate fear for the country.Ye-e-es, there was some fear for Henry, about to be eaten alive by his Queen like a hapless spider, but the sympathy I felt for Henry as a child effectively evaporated in the white heat of his ineffectuality.It facilitated of the betrayal of my new Shakespearean heroes, the Talbots, and so isn’t easily forgiven or forgotten.So it wasn’t what Margaret might or might not do to Henry that worried me.It was how she might treat England …
[subtitled: “It’s always the quiet ones you need to watch out for.”]
As I finished the play, it occurred to me that women play a much larger role than I might have guessed back in the heady days of January, when I started seriously thinking about this project.Perhaps I might refine that to say that French women.
What was/is it about the allure of French women to English men?
Abstract for the busy:this paradigm crystallises or articulates my recent thinking about kingship/leadership as it applies in Shakespeare’s plays and, I increasingly suspect, beyond.It gained critical mass after teaching Richard IIIat Key Stage 5 (Age 16-17) in Autumn 2016, where I found myself returning again and again to questions of Legitimacy, Authority and Dynasty, in plotting not just Richard’s journey and motives, but Richmond’s and, in fact, Queen Elizabeth’s.
[please note– I’ve only ever listened to just four of those albums.Promise.I hope you can infer which they are!]
As I approach the first monthly instalment of my Arden Amble, what are my expectations from a work I know relatively little about?Why start the journey of a thousand steps with a month reading and blogging about Henry VI Part 1?