Henry VI, Part One

Henry VI, Part One by William Shakespeare
My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Even though I want to stick to Shakespeare’s work chronologically, I’m doing Henry VI, Part One now because, well it’s Part One. Since this play came after Henry VI, Part Two and Part Three there is the danger that it could feel like a prequel. Unfortunately it turns out that Shakespeare has as much trouble with prequels as our contemporary writers. Shakespeare as to put characters into place for the already produced Parts Two and Three, but make the play interesting thus inserting new characters who everyone knows aren’t in the previous plays so will die most likely.

Having seen an adaptation of Henry VI, Part One (thanks 1960s BBC) as part of a series of plays before reading it, I was able to follow along with the action and speeches. However, when considering the play on it’s own the flaws in the overall product do become visible. While the heroic Talbot could be said to be primary protagonist of the piece, he is only so strong as the primary antagonist. After finishing the play, I still can’t figure out who was the antagonist, was it the French together or Joan of Arc/La Pucelle herself. In either case, neither was really effective.

I wanted to give the play 3, but I couldn’t convince myself to do so.

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