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Henry VI Pt 3

Written: c. 1591; Texts: First Folio 1623 (History), octavo edition 1595
Source: Hall, Edward (1498-1547). The Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Families of Lancaster and York (3rd. ed., 1550); Holinshed, Raphael (c. 1528-c. 1580). The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland. (2nd ed., 1587); William Baldwin ed. The Mirror for Magistrates (1559 ed.); Edmund Spenser (c.1552-99). The Faerie Queene (1590) – descriptions of the sun at 2.1.; Brooke, Arthur (?-1563). The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet (English translation in 1562) – Queen Margaret's speech at 5.4.; Kyd, Thomas (1558-94) The Spanish Tragedy (1588-9) and Soliman and Perseda (1590)
Characters: Earl of Warwick, Edward Earl of March, Richard, King Henry VI, Queen Margaret, Richard Plantagenet Duke of York, Lord Clifford, George, Lady Grey, Lewis the Eleventh King of France
Setting: London and France
Time: AD 1455-1471

Henry VI Part 3 was originally published in octavo format in 1595 and was titled, The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York, with the Death of Good King Henry the Sixth, with the Whole Contention between the Two Houses Lancaster and York. It is the third of the four plays that comprise the First Tetralogy, which was written between 1591 and 1595: Henry VI Part 1Henry VI Part 2, Henry VI Part 3, and Richard III.

Animal Imagery

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Animal imagery dominates Henry VI, Part 3, as in two passages here:

Margaret
And yet shalt thou be safe? Such safety finds

The trembling lamb environèd with wolves.
Had I been there, which am a silly woman,
The soldiers should have tossed me on their pikes
Before I would have granted to that act…
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Learning by Living

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In Love’s Labors Lost, Armado’s exclamation about the boy’s “Sweet smoke of rhetoric” complements the boy’s previous remark about his “penny of observation.” These two metaphors capture Shakespeare’s genius, both to observe and to poetically express human nature. In Love’s Labor’s Lost, the country boy, not the nobility, possesses these qualities.
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Town and Country

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In Cymbeline, Belarius advises his two adoptive sons to embrace the idyllic life in the country rather than the political life at court:

“O, this life
Is nobler than attending for a check;
Richer than doing nothing for a bable;
Prouder than rustling in unpaid-for silk:
Such gain the cap of him that makes him fine,
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Tempter or Tempted?

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In Measure for Measure (2.2.197), Angelo confronts, possibly for the first time in his life, the temptation of lust. And since this is new to him and because he is highly moralistic, he is troubled and confused. He reacts by asking himself a series of questions for which he has no answers.

What’s this? What’s this? Is this her fault,
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Seduction or Harassment?

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Shakespeare delights in the seduction ceremonies of bright men with even brighter women. These dialogues, whether between adolescents like Romeo and Juliet, more mature characters like Henry V and Princess Katherine, or seasoned adults like the widow Lady Grey and the sexual harasser King Edward, in this scene (3HenryVI 3.2.36), give Shakespeare opportunities to employ dazzling webworks of rhetorical exchanges.
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Sexual Extortion

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In Measure for Measure (2.4.95), Angelo, the classic sexual harasser, adopts a method of sexual extortion similar to King Edward’s in Henry VI Part 3 (3.2.36).  Both men begin with oblique insinuations about their desires, which can be innocently misread. When the women, Isabella in Measure for Measure and Lady Grey in Henry VI,
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Pardon me, Margaret.—Pardon me, sweet son

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King Henry
Pardon me, Margaret.—Pardon me, sweet son.
The Earl of Warwick and the Duke enforced me.
Queen Margaret 
Enforced thee? Art thou king and wilt be forced?
I shame to hear thee speak. Ah, timorous wretch,
Thou hast undone thyself, thy son, and me,
And giv’n unto the house of York such head
As thou shalt reign but by their sufferance!
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Act 1
Scene 1
Line 236

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Animal Imagery

I took an oath that he should quietly reign

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York 
I took an oath that he should quietly reign.
Edward 
But for a kingdom any oath may be broken.
I would break a thousand oaths to reign one year.
Richard 
No, God forbid your Grace should be forsworn.
York
I shall be, if I claim by open war.
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Act 1
Scene 2
Line 15

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Brave warriors, Clifford and Northumberland

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Brave warriors, Clifford and Northumberland,
Come, make him stand upon this molehill here
That raught at mountains with outstretchèd arms,
Yet parted but the shadow with his hand.

They place York on a small prominence.

What, was it you that would be England’s king?
Was ‘t you that reveled in our parliament
And made a preachment of your high descent?
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Act 1
Scene 4
Line 66

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She-wolf of France, but worse than wolves of France

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York 
She-wolf of France, but worse than wolves of France,
Whose tongue more poisons than the adder’s tooth:
How ill-beseeming is it in thy sex
To triumph like an Amazonian trull
Upon their woes whom Fortune captivates.
But that thy face is vizard-like,
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Act 1
Scene 4
Line 112

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Nor now my scandal, Richard, dost thou hear?

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Warwick
Nor now my scandal, Richard, dost thou hear?
For thou shalt know this strong right hand of mine
Can pluck the diadem from faint Henry’s head
And wring the awful scepter from his fist,
Were he as famous and as bold in war
As he is famed for mildness, peace, and prayer.
Richard
I know it well,
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Act 2
Scene 1
Line 153

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This battle fares like to the morning’s war

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This battle fares like to the morning’s war,
When dying clouds contend with growing light,
What time the shepherd, blowing of his nails,
Can neither call it perfect day nor night.
Simile, Anaphora & ParallelismNow sways it this way, like a mighty sea
Forced by the tide to combat with the wind;
Now sways it that way,

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Act 2
Scene 5
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O God! Methinks it were a happy life

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O God! Methinks it were a happy life
To be no better than a homely swain,
To sit upon a hill as I do now,
To carve out dials quaintly, point by point,
Thereby to see the minutes how they run:
How many makes the hour full complete,
How many hours brings about the day,
How many days will finish up the year,
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Act 2
Scene 5
Line 21

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Town and Country

Now tell me, madam, do you love your children?

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King Edward
Now tell me, madam, do you love your children?
Lady Grey
Ay, full as dearly as I love myself.
King Edward
And would you not do much to do them good?
Lady Grey
To do them good I would sustain some harm.
King Edward
Then get your husband’s lands to do them good.

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Ay, Edward will use women honorably

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Ay, Edward will use women honorably!
Would he were wasted—marrow, bones, and all—
That from his loins no hopeful branch may spring
To cross me from the golden time I look for.
And yet, between my soul’s desire and me,
The lustful Edward’s title burièd,
Is Clarence, Henry, and his son, young Edward,
And all the unlooked-for issue of their bodies
To take their rooms ere I can place myself.
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Act 3
Scene 2
Line 126

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Good day, my lord. What, at your book so hard?

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Richard
Good day, my lord. What, at your book so hard?
King Henry
AmplificationAy, my good lord—“my lord,” I should say rather.
’Tis sin to flatter; “good” was little better:
“Good Gloucester” and “good devil” were alike,
And both preposterous: therefore, not “good lord.”[/tooltip]
Richard, to Lieutenant
Sirrah,
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Act 5
Scene 6
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