Friday, February 10, 2017

Richard III

I've written before on the blog about my efforts, every so often, to read a play by Shakespeare, to pick up, in effect, where my high school education left off. This time, it was Richard III, my first of Shakespeare's histories. Given my interest in late-medieval and Tudor England, I was bound, I think, to enjoy the play: and enjoy, I did. There's much to like here: tangled royal lineage; a hunch-backed villain, determined to usurp; ghosts of princes past, come to support Henry Tudor in the battle at Bosworth. And more than that: treachery, alliances, and a real sense, I think, of the emotional toll the violence took on the women involved. After all, three generations of queens are united -- and divided -- by the rogue, Richard. I won't go on too much, but I did want to highlight one of my favorite lines, that one in which Henry VII is cast by Shakespeare as the great unifier, as the savior of a land ravaged by war. He is, in more ways than one, the anointed, the bridge to peace:

"Thou offspring of the house of Lancaster,
The wronged heirs of York do pray for free;
Good angels guard thy battle. Live and flourish!"

To which Shakespeare ends the play: "Amen."

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