Wednesday, January 12, 2011

1 Henry 6 Act 2


this play is getting more complicated. this is the best i can figure out:
so Talbot is pretty ticked off that the French pulled that stunt in the last act, so they decide to counter-attack in the dead of night. the stage directions say they scale walls on ladders. YUP. true story. they feel like God is on their side and evil spirits (i.e. Joan, because she has some sort of psychic powers) are on the side of the French. this means they will be victorious. the French are caught off-guard and many of them are described as running away half-dressed. i'd love to see that. Charles is so mad at Joan for not foreseeing this, but Joan defends herself saying that she can't use her powers 24/7. she blames the guards and the blame game ensues. Charles talks about being with Joan (see 2 paragraphs down) and ultimately decides to calm down and get his army back together.
in scene 2, Talbot is feeling victorious and good about himself because he has avenged Salisbury's death. they all think it's pretty funny that even Charles and Joan fled when they invaded. then this messenger comes in saying a French Countess wants to meet with Talbot. fishy, right? yeah, Talbot thinks so too, but he says he will go anyway.
in scene 3, Talbot meets with the Countess. she's poking fun at him for not seeming as fierce in person as he does from the stories she's heard of him. then, she tries to take him prisoner. ha. he goes into this whole thing about how she's only met his shadow and not the real Talbot. the real Talbot includes his army, and it is from his army that he gets his full fierceness. (see quote of the day.) then he calls the army in! bet she wasn't expecting that. it was pretty B.A. she then backtracks and apologizes, of course, and he agrees to forgive her in exchange for food for his men.
in scene 4... i have no idea. seriously. i am stumped. this scene was so lost on me and i just couldn't quite put it together. anyone care to help?
in the last scene, richard talks to his dying uncle who explains why, in his view, Richard is the true and rightful heir to the throne. he tells Richard to be careful, and then dies. Richard vows to get his rights back.
whew! lot's going on! and it's not even half-over yet.

although they are all intertwined in the big picture, in the small picture it feels like a lot of different storylines are going on simultaneously. goodbye neoclassicism! let's get this together.
1. Charles and Joan and his Frenchies and their fight to have France back for the French
2. Gloucester and Winchester and their fight for proper rule in England
3. Talbot and his exploits with the English army in France (including his business with Group 1)
4. Richard (aka Plantagenet) and his desire to regain his hereditary rights
and then there's Warwick and Somerset who i have no clue about... YET...

yesterday i was wondering if Charles was talking about marriage when he said he would split his crown with Joan. well, in this act there is further mention of their relationship. charles says in act 2, scene 1 that he spent the night in joan's quarters. he says he was "passing to and fro" and the footnotes suggest that this might be a sexual reference. hmm... let's see how this further unfolds.

i'm excited to meet another female character who's pretty cool. Countess of Auvergne is bolder than the average female. i mean, she's pretty much trying to single-handedly capture the most feared war hero alive. that takes guts. of course, in the end she gives up, but to go through with the attempt seems pretty brazen to me. so far it seems like shakespeare's women either feel kind of static and pathetic (like Venus and Luciana from Comedy of Errors) or theyre super bold and unruly (like Adriana from Comedy of Errors and Joan from this play). so far there's not a lot inbetween. the latter section of women feel to me, so far, to be better developed and more honest. i would love to know what kind of women Shakespeare encountered in his everyday life. what woman, or women, did he most like or admire? what were they like? did they inform his character development? they must have, to some degree at least. does anyone know anything about this? i would love more information and to hear others' opinions.

thank you to everyone reading, and extra thanks to everyone who is commenting. it means a lot. the more comenters we have, the more this project will grow and be a useful resource for those who read it!

quote of the day:
'no, no, i am but a shadow of myself.
you are deceived. my substance is not here;
for what you see is but the smallest part
and least proportion of humanity.
i tell you, madam, were the whole frame here,
it is of such a spacious lofty pitch
your roof were not sufficient to contain't.'
     -Talbot; act 2, scene 3

for tomorrow: act 3

i can do this i can do this i can do this...

-rebecca may


  1. 1st off, very proud of you for this! Its also fun to follow along with you! Props for tackling a history so early on too! :)
    I'd obviously say, Elizabeth was some sort of influence on his female characters, partially because, she being such an extraordinary woman in power herself, that women of that status would be more BA, partially due to obligation, partially due to the fact that she loved the arts!
    The stage directions in this act seem pretty badass! I can't picture Shakespeare, compared to his other pieces, having one with such physical activity. I mean, the others do, but not with it in the stage directions, that I recall. Scaling the walls, charging the Countess' gates, running away half naked, etc. Interesting Shakespeare....

    P.S. You can do this! You're Friggin Awesome!

  2. So, maybe Joan was not the virgin martyr as she is so often depicted?

  3. Anonymous, great point about Elizabeth!
    Susan, right? I'm not sure what's going on here!
    Thanks for the comments!

  4. On the contrary, I have always found Shakespeare to be much interesting in its physicality. Remember that a lot of these plays were not presented in the traditional Globe setting or even in The Theatre. For example, Romeo and Juliet had its introduction at The Curtain, a theatre known for violence and swordplay, thus R and J has more stage fighting than any of the other plays. They had to keep an audience. When you consider that two blocks over Bear Gardens was thriving, the cock fights were an institution of the community and other bloodthirsty events were staged all over the place, it is not surprising that there is a lot of action. Additionally, The First Folio was put together by Shakespeare's friends posthumously--they may have put in additional actions.