Henry VI

Shakespeare: the funny bits

I got Auden’s Lectures on Shakespeare with a Christmas book voucher: one lecture for almost every one of the plays, plus the sonnets. One of the blurbs says something like “If you’ve ever wanted an excuse to read all of Shakespeare, here it is.” “As if,” I said to myself as I dove into the first chapter, which covers all three parts of Henry VI…

Um, so, right, anyway. Those history plays are pretty tough going, aren’t they? Good thing there’s a bit of farce here and there to keep you awake.

2 Henry VI

Act 5, Scene I. Fields between Dartford and Blackheath.

Enter York, and his army of Irish, with drums and colours

York. From Ireland thus comes York to claim his right
And pluck the crown from feeble Henry’s head.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, I rock.
Buck. Ho, wherefore do you march against our King?
Ahem, excuse my throat, I have a cold.
The cause why I have bought this army thither
Is to remove proud Somerset from the King,
Seditious to his Grace and to the State.
Buck. Why, Somerset is taken prisoner.
York. Upon thine honour, is he prisoner?
Buck. Upon mine honour, he is prisoner.
York. You’re really sure that he is prisoner?
Buck. He’s really, really, really prisoner.
York. Pinkie promise?

Enter the King, and Attendants

King. Buckingham, doth York intend no harm to us,
That thus he marcheth with thee arm in arm?
York. No, no, we’re cool, it’s Somerset I want.
Oh, how I hate that Duke of Somerset.
I hear you have him locked up in a dungeon?

Enter the Queen and Somerset.

Som. What up, bitches?

The King makes frantic ‘No, no’ and throat-cutting gestures

King. See, Buckingham! Somerset comes with th’Queen:
Go, bid her hide him quickly from the Duke.


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