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 …
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.
‘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.
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?