Monday, January 31, 2011

2 Henry 6: Act 5, Scene 1


today's reading made me think about how we react, given our situations, and what we feel we are owed. (go with me on this one.) in the play, York feels he is owed the crown. it is his right. and because he is so sure of that right, he will mow down anyone. he wants what he deserves and doesn't consider what anyone else deserves or needs. at no point does he think: hey, this is not Henry's fault- he doesn't deserve to be screwed over! all he can think is ME Me MeMeMe. in real life, people do this all the time. in fact, i see it a lot in theatre. i see a person who thinks they deserve all the respect in the world mow down the people who need their help or time or consideration. like, 'hey, i deserve all the time in the world from you, but there's no way i'm giving my time to someone else who needs it.' am i coming across here? the reading today reminded me to think outside of my own perspective. i can't just consider what i need or what i deserve, i have to flip that coin. whatever i feel i deserve i need to give to others. they deserve it too. and if i don't, we might have a war on our hands. feelin' me?

on to act 5, scene 1:
   (York and his army enter.)
York: i'm here to claim what is rightfully mine! the crown!!
   (Buckingham enters.)
Buck: i am here to ask you why you've raised this army when you swore your allegiance to Henry.
York: (aside) i am so mad i could scream. i should have what Henry has, but i must make friends until Henry is in a weaker position. (to Buckingham) i am here to remove Somerset because he is a traitor!
Buck: really? okay, well Somerset is in London Tower right now so you can have him.
York: for real?
Buck: you better believe it.
York: in that case, i will send my army away. i will pledge my sons and all of my belongings to Henry as proof of my allegiance.
Buck: sounds great!
   (Henry enters)
Henry: why do you guys look like BFFs right now?
York: i'm not here against you. i'm here against Somerset.
   (Iden enters with Cade's head.)
Iden: this head is for you, Henry.
Henry: you did this?
Iden: hell yes.
Henry: amazing. you are officially knighted, and you will stick around to help us out.
   (Margaret and Somerset enter.)
York: WHAT?!?! you lied to me! he's not locked up! that's it. you're not the true King. I AM! and i am going to overthrow you!!!
Somerset: you traitor! i am arresting you!
York: bring in my sons. they will be my bail.
   (York's sons Richard and Edward enter, followed by Clifford. Clifford kneels before Henry.)
Clifford: praise to the King!
York: gee, thanks!
Clifford: you are not my King. he is a traitor. take him away.
York: sons, will you be my bail?
Richard and Edward: of course!
York: that's right. and Salisbury and Warwick have my back too.
   (they enter.)
Henry: you guys aren't really on York's side, are you? didn't you swear allegiance to me?
Salisbury. yes. (see quote below.)
Henry: York, all of my people will be against you.
York: bring it.
   (Henry's people and York's people bicker.)

in case you're confused, here are the alliances as best as i can figure them:
on team Henry we have: old and young Clifford, Somerset, Iden, and Buckingham.
on team York we have: Warwick, Salisbury, and York's two sons Richard and Edward

how hiLARious is it that York gives away his hand so easily? Somerset comes in, and instead of questioning the situation, he just blows the whole thing! he had a good thing going there. he fooled them into believing he was on their side! he totally could've used that, but before he had the chance to, he blows up and ruins it. i find it so funny. up to this point, i saw him as a menacing figure. the others were buffoons, but he was legit. now he is the buffoon. and Henry, although too forgiving, feels stronger to me. intriguing. at no point do i take any of these villains too seriously. i don't know if that's me or the intention, but i'm loving it. i'm chomping at the bit to see how this will all go down.

quote of the day:
'it is great sin to swear unto a sin,
but greater sin to keep a sinful oath.
who can be bound by any solemn vow
to do a murderous deed, to rob a man,
to force a spotless virgin's chastity,
to reave the orphan of his patrimony,
to wring the widow from her customed right,
and have no other reason for this wrong
but that he was bound by a solemn oath?'
     -Salisbury; act 5, scene 1

for tomorrow: act 5, scenes 2 and 3

-rebecca may


  1. Interesting that you use the word "villain". No other thoughts than that.

  2. Have you ever seen the film HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG? It's crucial, but one of those movies that shut down my whole day with despondency over the messed up state of the world. You reminded me of it with your opening passage about conflicting sides each feeling rightfully justified to possess their desire.

    Elsewhere, I think one of the strengths of August Wilson's playwriting is his ability to argue convincingly on each character's behalf in his dialogue. I often find myself sitting in the audience, thinking, "She's right. No, he is. Well, she made a point there. He just trumped that!" and on and on. Makes for great drama.

  3. tyler, you made me think and re-consider. thanks for that!
    susan, i will have to check it out.
    thanks for the input!