Talk:Henry VI, Part 3

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Recent edits[edit]

As y'all can see, I've done a small bit of work on the article! What I’ve done is pretty self explanatory really. I've reorganised it so that it's laid out correctly as per the standard layout of the WikiShakespeare project. I've added material everywhere. I've added some pictures, added a pretty thorough bibliography and added a couple of external links. I'm reading through the Oxford edition of Henry VI, Part 1 now, so I'll probably pick up bits and pieces of info in it which I'll add here as I come across them. I'm pretty happy with how it's turned out, and as with The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Taming of the Shrew and Henry VI, Part 2, I welcome any and all feedback. Bertaut (talk) 00:04, 20 December 2009 (UTC)


Certainly Montague is a muddle. He starts the play as York's brother, and becomes Warwick's. I entirely agree that this is very likely to be connected with Salisbury's almost-disappearance from the trilogy after ending Part Two as a major player. But to say that Montague at the beginning of Part Three IS Salisbury is over-stating, and over-simplifying. I really can't imagine Salisbury as we saw him in Part Two playing the part Montague does in I/ii of this play.

Rogersansom (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 07:25, 27 February 2011 (UTC).

Too much![edit]

Might as well just go read the play instead of wading through this wall of text. Brevity is the soul of wit! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:19, 10 July 2012 (UTC)

At last count, the play is only 1774 words longer than the article. There's a place for a serious analysis into the play, but Wikipedia is not the place. Cut it in half at least. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:44, 10 July 2012 (UTC)


Does this article contain copyvios? I did some editing on it, and then happened to notice the wording of the lead paragraph, which appears to be taken from:

King Henry VI,: Third part, (The new Temple Shakespeare, ed. by M.R. Ridley, M.A) Hardcover, Publisher: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd.; (1936) [1]

NinaGreen (talk) 18:23, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

Haha. That's not a quote from the book. That's a blurb written by Amazon taken directly from Wikipedia. I've come across this many times in relation to Shakespeare's plays. A lot of places use Wikipedia leads as summaries. As the author of the lead, I can assure you, it's not copied from anywhere. Bertaut (talk) 21:51, 20 August 2013 (UTC)
Good to know. Thanks. NinaGreen (talk) 01:19, 21 August 2013 (UTC)

Streamlining the article[edit]

The material below appears in identical form in the articles on all three Henry VI plays. I've deleted the material in italics below from the article on Henry VI, Part 3, and added a link to the identical material in the article on Henry VI, Part 1. I hope this streamlining of the article meets with approval. NinaGreen (talk) 03:22, 22 August 2013 (UTC)

There is a separate question concerning the date of composition however. Due to the quarto title of 2 Henry VI (The First Part of the Contention), and with the publication of True Tragedy in 1595, which makes no reference whatsoever to 1 Henry VI, some critics have argued that 2 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI were written prior to 1 Henry VI. This theory was first suggested by E.K. Chambers in 1923, and revised by John Dover Wilson in 1952. The theory is that The Contention and True Tragedy were originally conceived as a two-part play, but due to their success, a prequel was created. Various critics have offered various pieces of evidence to attest to this fact, such as R.B. McKerrow, who argues that "if 2 Henry VI was originally written to continue the first part, it seems utterly incomprehensible that it should contain no allusion to the prowess of Talbot."[9] McKerrow also comments on the lack of reference to the symbolic use of roses in 2 Henry VI, whereas in 1 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI the device is mentioned numerous times. McKerrow concludes that this suggests 1 Henry VI was written closer to 3 Henry VI, and as we know 3 Henry VI was a sequel, it means that 1 Henry VI must have been written last; i.e. Shakespeare only conceived of the use of the roses whilst writing 3 Henry VI, and then incorporated the idea into his prequel. Eliot Slater comes to the same conclusion in his statistical examination of the vocabulary of all three Henry VI plays, where he argues that 1 Henry VI was written either immediately before or immediately after 3 Henry VI, hence it must have been written last.[10] Likewise, Gary Taylor in his analysis of the authorship of 1 Henry VI, argues that the many discrepancies between 1 Henry VI and 2 Henry VI (such as the lack of reference to Talbot) couple with similarities in the vocabulary, phraseology and tropes between 1 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI suggest 1 Henry VI was probably written last.[11]

One argument against this theory is that 1 Henry VI is the weakest of the trilogy and therefore, logic would suggest it was written first. This argument suggests that Shakespeare could only have created such a weak play if it was his first attempt to turn his chronicle sources into drama; in essence, he was unsure of his way, and as such, 1 Henry VI was a trial-run of sorts, making way for the more accomplished 2 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI. Emrys Jones is one notable critic who supports this view.[12] The standard rebuke to this theory, and the one used by Dover Wilson in 1952, is that 1 Henry VI is significantly weaker than the other two plays, not because it was written first but because it was co-authored, and may have been Shakespeare's first attempt to collaborate with other dramatists. As such, all of the play's problems can be attributed to its co-authors rather than Shakespeare himself, who may have had a relatively limited hand its composition. In this sense, the fact that 1 Henry VI is the weakest of the trilogy has nothing to do with when it may have been written, but instead concerns only how it was written.[13]

As this implies, there is no critical consensus on this issue. Samuel Johnson, writing in his 1765 edition of The Plays of William Shakespeare, pre-empted the debate and argued that the plays were written in sequence; "It is apparent that [2 Henry VI] begins where the former ends, and continues the series of transactions, of which it presupposes the first part already written. This is a sufficient proof that the second and third parts were not written without dependence on the first."[14] Numerous more recent scholars continue to uphold Johnson's argument. E.M.W. Tillyard, for example, writing in 1944, believes the plays were written in order, as does Andrew S. Cairncross, in his editions of all three plays for the 2nd series of the Arden Shakespeare (1957, 1962 and 1964) that the plays were most likely written in order. E.A.J. Honigmann also agrees, in his 'early start' theory of 1982 (which argues that Shakespeare's first play was Titus Andronicus, which Honigmann posits was written in 1586). Likewise, Michael Hattaway, in both his 1990 New Cambridge Shakespeare edition of 1 Henry VI and his 1991 edition of 2 Henry VI argues that the evidence suggests 1 Henry VI was written first. In his 2001 introduction to Henry VI: Critical Essays, Thomas A. Pendleton makes a similar argument, as does Roger Warren, in his 2003 edition of 2 Henry VI for The Oxford Shakespeare.

On the other hand, Edward Burns, in his 2000 Arden Shakespeare 3rd series edition of 1 Henry VI and Ronald Knowles, in his 1999 Arden Shakespeare 3rd series edition of 2 Henry VI make the case that 2 Henry VI probably preceded 1 Henry VI. Similarly, Randall Martin, in his 2001 Oxford Shakespeare edition of 3 Henry VI argues that 1 Henry VI was almost certainly written last. In his 2003 Oxford edition of 1 Henry VI, Michael Taylor agrees with Martin. Additionally, it is worth noting that in the Oxford Shakespeare: Complete Works of 1986 and the 2nd edition of 2005, and in the Norton Shakespeare of 1997 and again in 2008, both 2 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI precede 1 Henry VI.

Ultimately, the question of the order of composition remains unanswered, and the only thing that critics can agree on is that all three plays (in whatever order) were written by early 1592 at the latest.

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