This is a review of all three parts of King Henry VI. That being said, let me start with a brief statement about Mr. Shakespeare and myself. I am a huge Shakespeare fan and am currently working my way through all his works. I have read a decent chunk of his plays already, but recently bought a complete collection. I have started at the beginning and will hopefully be through its entirety before the end of this year, including rereading the one’s I have already read. I love what I’ve read of Shakespeare’s works and even took a class devoted to him when I was at University. Needless to say, I have little trouble deciphering his brilliant language, as well as appreciating his crude humor.* But, beyond his type of base humor, there is so much more to his plays. And that is why I am going to write reviews of all his plays I read this year, even though his plays are far better enjoyed watched than read.
So, to begin with, here’s a short synopsis of this play. This three-part story focuses on King Henry and his downfall as king. Well, that about sums it up. So onto my short review.
It is speculated that this is Shakespeare’s first play, and that would explain why I found it a bit hard to get through. The language isn’t everything that his later well-practiced hand writes, but it’s not awful. I still found the story engaging, but not brilliant. I found it hard to stay completely immersed in the story line, and this play definitely took me longer to get through than I typically average. I did find some of his humor that I usually love, but it wasn’t as prominent as in his later works. I found myself trudging along through this story just to be able to say that I had finished it, because that’s the type of reader I am: stubborn.
However, I cannot completely condemn this play and say that it wasn’t worth my while. My favorite thing about this particular play was Queen Margaret. She is an exceedingly strong character and one that I did fully appreciate. That’s one thing I really love about Shakespeare; he is never afraid to write strong female characters and weak male characters, which happens to be what he did with King Henry in this particular story. Despite this, I think what made it so hard to read this play was the fact that it was so long. Being in three parts, this one play was 97 pages (in my copy) versus one of his typical plays at 30ish pages and, even with its few redeeming qualities, it was just too long and too stretched thin to be fully enjoyed.
Overall, this play wasn’t horrible, but it’s a tough read to get through. I probably would have given it 2/5 stars if I didn’t love the man so much. I wouldn’t recommend this play to any Shakespeare reader who isn’t a die-hard fan. It might even taint their view of the brilliant man. But, if you, like me, are a fan till the end, this play is an important piece in Shakespeare’s history, being his (potentially) first play, and is worth at least one read.
*So, if you are ever in need of some assistence with anything Shakespearean, feel free to ask! I will gladly help.