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MonkeyNotes-King Henry VI, Part 3 by William Shakespeare
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Act V, Scene 6

The scene is set in the Tower in London. King Henry and Richard
are in conversation. Richard mocks Henry for reading a book.
Richard asks the Lieutenant to leave and Henry realizes that his
time has come and he will be killed. He asks about his son and
finds out that Richard has killed him. Hearing this, Henry breaks
into stormy passions. He curses Richard for his bloody deed and
says his birth is like an evil sign. He elucidates a prophesy that
reveals Richard's beginnings as well as what is to come. Richard
becomes infuriated and kills him before he can finish.

Before dying Henry asks God's forgiveness for him and Richard
also. Richard admits that he has no pity, love nor fear and what
Henry said was true. He had heard his mother saying that he came
into the world with his legs forward. The midwife wondered and
the women cried 'O Jesus bless us, he is born with teeth'. Inwardly
he warns Clarence and Edward to beware and take care of their
lives since Richard has no brotherly love. He may cause their
death. With King Henry and the Prince gone, next will be Clarence
who is another obstacle to the crown. He takes away the body of


This scene is most notable ifor Henry's outstanding courage and
his condemnation of Richard's character. For once, Henry stands
up for himself and speaks freely, without fear. He has nothing to
lose now this his wife is in prison and his son dead. That the play
has been leading up to this scene is not surprising. Henry stands in
the way not only of a York takeover of the crown but also
Richard's campaign to have it. That he has killed a king in order to
gain closer access to it reveals that Richard will stop at nothing to
get what he wants. Gloucester has historically been blamed for
King Henry's murder although it has never been proven. However,
Shakespeare follows the Tudor view of events in this scene.
Although Henry appears heroic in this scene as he stands up to the
brutal Richard, he still cannot be called a tragic hero. His nature
does not have the trappings of a hero. He is not able to resolve the
disorder around him nor come to grips with it. Instead he passively
accepts it. He is more a man of contemplation than action and does
belong in this world of warfare and political strife.

Richard therefore becomes the compelling figure in this scene as
he stabs the dead body of Henry and reveals his vicious predatory
nature. He agrees with Henry's assessment of him and uses it as a
reason to get what he wants. By comparing his deformed body to
his maligned mind, he justifies his perverse thinking. "then since
the heavens have shap'd my body so, Let hell make crook'd my
mind to answer it." He isolates himself from everyone because of
this singular perception of himself, which gives him the freedom to
do what he wishes.

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MonkeyNotes-King Henry VI, Part 3 by William Shakespeare

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