#MYSHX400 (Happy Birthday, Will)

BH MySHX400-OG

So.  I owe the inspiration for this post – wanting to do something to celebrate the birthday – to ohforamuseofire, who herself got the questions from Folger Shakespeare Library project.  I wonder how, if at all, my answers might change over the next few years, as the PonyTail Shakespeare project progresses …

What does Shakespeare mean to you?

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PTS 03/014: Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable …

BH Blanche Dubois
“Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable.  It is the one unforgivable thing in my opinion and it is the one thing of which I have never, never been guilty.”  (BLANCHE:  A Streetcar Named Desire (scene 10), Tennessee Williams)

Henry VI part III: Act I

So …

Part III begins, as Part II ended, with Warwick, perhaps reinforcing his role as ‘kingmaker’, and with the suspicion – to be dealt with later, maybe – that Henry is a ‘Jonah’ on the battlefield.  Whoever’s side he appears on (note I don’t say ‘fights’ on) he seems to suck the fighting spirit out of the army like a Dementor whose puppy has just been killed in a hit-and-run accident …

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PTS 02/013: The Force is strong in you, young Skywalker

BH anakin
What country, friends, is this?

subtitled:  The Middle Child, and Darth Vader

It seems an eternity since that I fell into this play, full of fears for my adopted country, and so it has been. My views on how work has impacted on my ability to blog over the last month or so probably need to wait until I’m not feeling as ‘wasp stung and impatient’ as Harry Hotspur. Anyway, as we hit the end of this play my fears for England have receded, at least. In fact, I’m struggling to feel fearful at all. I’m a spectator, but a fully engaged one.

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PTS 02/012: ‘A Necessary End’

BH death of suffolk

HENRY VI part II:  Act IV

‘death, a necessary end, will come when it will come’                                              (JULIUS CAESAR: Act II, sc ii)

subtitled: ‘The not very tragic or lamentable death of the serial rotter, Suffolk, and the deservedly doomed distraction caused by Cade.’

It’s not quite acts three or four of Antony and Cleopatra, but this act does get into double-figures in terms of scenes – something I find irritating as a reader, in a way that I don’t find when listening to or watching the plays. Still, basically, Act IV boils down into two episodes, as the subtitle suggests.

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PTS 02/011: Small curs are not regarded when they grin

BH dog surfboard
Subtitled:  You gonna bark all day, little doggy?  Or are you gonna bite?

Henry VI part II: Act III

‘Small curs are not regarded when they grin’ (QUEEN MARGARET III.i.18)

Act III starts where Act II left off: the smell of blood in the water; fins thrashing as a pack of ruthless hunters circle our hapless king; bites being taken from the already-doomed Gloucester.

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PTS 02/009: England – A Nest of Hollow Bosoms

BH HVI II Eleanor and Margaret
This country ain’t big enough for the two of us … bitch!

 

What mightst thou do, that honour would thee do,

Were all thy children kind and natural!

But see,thy fault France hath in thee found out,

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

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PTS01/006: Je T’aime … Moi Non Plus

bh-serge-and-jane-terry-oneill
Serge and Jane:  detail from image by Terry O’Neill.  Looking not dissimilar to Suffolk and Margaret, methinks …

Henry VI 1:  Act V

[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?

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