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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS
The play starts in the palace of London, where the preparations for the coronation of Queen Margaret take place. The second scene is at Gloucester’s house; a highly significant conversation between the duke and the duchess occurs there. The fourth scene of Act I takes place in Gloucester’s garden and reveals the duchess resorting to magic and witchcraft.
Act II begins in St. Albans with the hawking scene. The second scene is set in the Duke of York’s garden where he presents the genealogical outline that proves his right to be king. The third scene is in the hall of justice where the traitors are sentenced. The fourth scene is set on the street and presents the duchess in disgrace.
Act III begins in the Abbey at Bury St. Edmund’s where Gloucester is deprived of his protectorship and then dismissed. The second scene is a room in Bury St. Edmund’s where the murder of Gloucester takes place. Scene 3 presents the Cardinal on his deathbed.
Act IV begins on the coast of Kent, where Suffolk is killed. Scene 3, at Blackheath, introduces the rebel leader, Jack Cade. Scene 4 is in the palace in London. Scene 5 is set at the Tower of London; Scene 6 is on Canon Street in London; Scene 7 is in Smithfield in London; Scene 8 takes place in Southwark; Scene 9 is set in Kenilworth Castle, and the tenth scene is in Iden’s garden in Kent.
Act V begins in the fields between Dartford and Blackheath, while the second scene and the final scene occur in St. Albans.
King Henry VI
Son of Henry V, whom he succeeds when he is nine months old. The king is portrayed as a pious, gentle and virtuous man. His inefficiency in ruling leads to dynastic strife and civil wars within the country.
Daughter of René, who marries Henry VI by proxy at Nancy, with Suffolk standing as proxy for the king. She becomes unpopular by allying herself with Suffolk and then Somerset, both of whom are responsible for the loss of territories in France.
The Duke of Gloucester
The “Good” Duke Humphrey of Lancaster, youngest son of Henry IV. At his brother’s death (Henry V) he claims the regency, but has to defer to Bedford and accept the title “Protector of England.” He is portrayed as a sincere and honest well wisher of the king and also as a determined, able and self-righteous man who believes that truth can always triumph.
The wife of Gloucester and the daughter of Sir Reginald Cobham of Sterborough; her ambition causes the downfall of her husband and herself.
Bishop of Winchester (Cardinal Beaufort)
Henry Beaufort, the second of Gaunt’s illegitimate sons. He is named guardian of Henry VI. He is made Cardinal by Pope Martin V and leads the opposition against Gloucester.
The Duke of Somerset
Edmund Beaufort, the second Duke of Somerset, who succeeded York as Regent over France. He is a supporter of the king.
The Marquis (Duke) of Suffolk
William de la Pole, the fourth Earl, then Marquis and finally the Duke of Suffolk, had served in France and arranged the marriage of Henry with Margaret of Anjou.
Humphrey Stafford, Constable of France and the first Duke of Buckingham, was a member of the group that opposed Gloucester and supported the queen against York.
One of the most loyal supporters of Henry VI, Thomas, twelfth Baron Clifford of Clifford castle in Herefordshire.
John, thirteenth Baron Clifford, son of Lord Clifford and a determined enemy of the Duke of York.
A staunch Lancastrian, Sir William Vaux was an able supporter of the king.
The Duke of York
Descended through his mother from the Mortimer line, York claimed a right to the throne. His triumph is the climax of the play.
Edward And Richard
The sons of York, who later become Edward IV and Richard III.
The Earl of Salisbury, the Earl of Warwick
Richard Neville and his son.