ePub King John and King Henry VIII ePub

by William Shakespeare

Review for Henry VII

A sumptuous look at the intricacies of monarchy. It's an inside-the-chambers look at the pomp, processions and power-plays of royalty.

Our titular king is Henry VIII, and Shakespeare's play covers the period that finds him moving from wife one, Katharine, to wife two, the unlucky Anne Bullen. As this takes place, the King's advisors jockey for position, setting up one another for beheadings and ruin.

A large part of the story examines how power twists law as Henry gathers learned councils to accomplish his goal of having his marriage annulled. Katharine was first married to his brother, and that's enough to invalidate the match...once enough pressure has been applied. His men—and allies from Rome—call her to take part in the proceedings, but she expresses the only power she has in refusing to lend them legitimacy, although this proves to be a hollow, short-lived victory.

"It seems the marriage with his brother's wife has crept too near his conscience," one character says.

"No, his conscience has crept too near another lady," another famously answers.

The play moves through Anne's coronation, capturing the extravagance of her new position. From there it moves to the seeds of England's Protestant reformation, as the King stands by his Archbishop of Canterbury, heading off the kind of conspiracy that brought down some of his men earlier in the play. It's a sign of the King's new comfort in managing his power.

The play has strong moments, although the language lacks the consistent fluidity of Shakespeare's best work. It's also a bit choppy in its pacing; each act seems to handle a different cast of characters, and there isn't a consistent drive or motivation linking the passages. Henry wants to divorce his wife while she doesn't want to be disgraced, but this dispute seems cool and bloodless, even as the other deadly machinations ultimately prove meaningless from our perspective.

In a way, the play mirrors the playacting of authority, the need to embody firm standards and expectations...or at least to appear to adhere to them until they can be safely discarded. It's interesting through that lens, but it's probably the weakest of Shakespeare's histories.

"O how wretched
Is that poor man that hangs on princes' favors!
There is betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
That sweet aspect of princes and their ruin,
More pangs and fears than wars or women have:
And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
Never to hope again."

eBook tags: king, john, and, king, henry, viii, epub, download, epub, william shakespeare

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ISBN
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GanrePlays
Pages count288
eBook formatPaperback, (torrent)En
File size3.9 Mb
Book rating3.53 (32 votes)
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