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MonkeyNotes-King Henry VI, Part 3 by William Shakespeare
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King Henry VI

Son of Henry V--He succeeded the throne when he was nine
months old in 1422. While he was a minor, England was ruled
through a council, his uncle good Duke Humphrey of Gloucester
being protector. His reign was not a peaceful one and it was a
period of war between nations and within the kingdom. It was also
a time of dynastic strife which showed in the contests between
allegiance to the monarchy and alliance between the nobles. King
Henry is portrayed as a gentle, young and pious man who is able to
know what is right but is unable to prevent what is wrong. To his
courtiers he seems inefficient and effete, and according to his wife,
he is more suited and interested in observing the papal rights and
rituals than concentrating on his kingly duties. Because he does not
feel secure about his right to the crown, his insecurities and
inabilities to rule are exacerbated, enough to where Henry
unnaturally yields the crown to York and weakly allows himself to
be silenced whenever he tries to intervene.

The Queen mocks the King's cowardice in preferring his life to his
honor and says that she would surely prefer to die at the hands of
the enemy rather than do this cowardly and unmanly act. When he
loses his throne and is banished to Scotland, he roams about in the
forest with a prayer book and says his crown is not on his head but
in his heart and it is called Content. This contentment of mind is
attained by him, which is very rare among Kings. At last when he
gets back his crown, he abdicates in favor of Warwick and
Clarence and makes them the protectors of the state, while he
spends the later part of his life praising God. Although he is a
beneficent king and spiritually endowed, he is out of touch with the
atmosphere of the times which demands a ruler with an iron fist
who can quell the unrest and bring the country out of disorder. He
is more a prophet than a king as can be seen in the scene where is
murdered and the stature he attains at foretelling the bloodshed that
will spill due to Richard's ambitions.

Queen Margaret

She is the daughter of Reignier, who married Henry VI at Nancy in
1445. She is portrayed as a very determined woman unlike her
husband. When Henry proves himself an unnatural father and
disinherits his son, she is provoked to divorce him both from bed
and board. She laments her fate of having been born as a queen to
a worthless king and attempts to be a leader through her own
cunning ambitions. She is bold enough to face the future and its
consequences. Her maternal love manifests itself in her concern
about her son's future and her determination to regain his
inheritance. Yet like many of Shakespeare's female characters, she
harbors her own ambtions and selfish motivations.

When her husband is banished and deprived of his throne, she
seeks the help of the French King Lewis. As a leader of the army,
she fares very well and proves herself a brave tyrant when she
mercilessly mocks York before killing him. She is ferocious and
undaunted by the rage and despair around her. Yet when the York
brothers kill her son, she weeps desperately, very unusual for her
and curses them as 'butchers, cannibals, murderers.' Even she is
affected finally by the death and destruction around her especially
of innocents. Her martial strength and capability as a leader is
shown when she inspires her troops to fight bravely and not weep
about their losses. She encourages them to be brave and be ready
to face all adversities like the captain of a ship. All these qualities
of hers prove that she is indeed a bold, shrewd, and outspoken
woman and an able queen.

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MonkeyNotes-King Henry VI, Part 3 by William Shakespeare
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