I’m not going to lie…this play was a tough read. I haven’t had this much trouble following what was going on in a Shakespeare play in awhile. However, I didn’t call this project a challenge for nothing, so I plow ahead.
I am going to play with the format again. I need to find something more easy to sustain, so I’m going to shorten, but keep the summary and get rid of the rest. Maybe to be more thoroughly covered at a later date. Let me know what you think!
Scene 1: Suffolk delivers Margaret, who he already married on behalf of the King. Nothing says romance like marriage through a surrogate. Margaret and Henry apparently thought so because they doted on each other for awhile. It was their first meeting, I suppose.
Then, Gloucester reads through the terms of the peace treaty. They greatly favor the French. So much so that Gloucester can’t even finish reading it and Winchester has to finish. The English gave up the territories of Maine and Anjou to Margaret’s father. The King would also receive no dowry and were expected to pay her transportation cost. Henry makes Suffolk a Duke and dismisses York as regent of France.
The King, Queen, and Suffolk leave and Gloucester begins complaining about how they just gave up way too much of France. Salisbury and Warwick, who fought valiantly in the wars, joined in on the complaining. Gloucester leaves in a huff. The Cardinal mentions that Gloucester is just mad because he was next in line. Buckingham understandably questions why Gloucester is even still protector when Henry is of age. They all leave after hatching a plan to take down Gloucester.
Warwick and Salisbury lament France some more before they leave. The scene ends with York being sad because the empire that should be and will be his is being chipped away. But, he’ll take advantage of everyone else being angry to win allies to take the throne.
Scene 2: Gloucester came home to speak to his wife, Lady Macbeth…I mean, Eleanor. She wants him to be King, but he’s fine where he is. So, she decides to secure the throne herself through witchcraft. A priest, Hume, is helping her to get the help of some witches. However, Hume is a double agent, helping Winchester and Suffolk.
Scene 3: Some petitioners wait for Gloucester, but unfortunately Suffolk and Margaret enter. Margaret decides she’s going to read them. The first petitioner complains against John Goodman, one of Winchester’s men, who keeps him from his home, lands, and wife. Suffolk reads the second petitioner’s complaint, which is against him…AWKWARD! Finally, Peter, the only petitioner who gets a name, complains against his master the armorer who said York should be King. They hold him and call for his master until they can hear more.
Margaret tears up the petitions and orders everyone to leave because that’s how you win over the people. Then she complains to Suffolk about Henry being such a weak-willed King. She also exclaims her dislike for all of the nobles, but she hates Gloucester’s wife the worst because she has more money than the Queen and flaunts that fact. Suffolk explains that he is working to trap her.
Everyone Margaret was complaining about enters the scene. They are trying to figure out who should be the regent of France, York or Somerset. York and Somerset exchange insults. Warwick takes York’s side. Winchester points out that no one cares what Warwick thinks. He gets offended. Buckingham chimes in for fun. Salisbury tries to calm everyone down.
The Queen chimes in at this point. Gloucester tells her the King is old enough to make up how own mind and her weak woman mind clearly can’t handle these manly issues. The Queen points out that if the King is old enough he doesn’t need a protector. Gloucester says he’ll step down if the King asks. Everyone lists off all the terrible things Gloucester has done as protector and Gloucester leaves in a huff.
The Queen takes this opportunity to hit Gloucester’s wife and then say she didn’t mean to. The King believes Margaret. Eleanor swears revenge and leaves. Buckingham follows her.
Gloucester comes back because he’s calmed down now. He says York will be better. Somerset disagrees. York says that Somerset is only saying that because York won’t kiss his butt like everyone else. Also, Somerset kept York waiting for supplies and he lost Paris. Warwick confirms and everyone gets huffy.
Then, the armorer, Horner, and his apprentice Peter from earlier in the scene come in. Peter accuses Horner of saying York should be King. York denounces any such statement (even though he totally thinks he should be King). Horner calls Peter a liar. They decide to have trial by combat at a later date.
Scene 4: Hume, along with a witch and two sorcerers, discuss their plan to trap the Duchess. Hume exits and returns with Eleanor. The magic folk summon a demon who gives three vague prophesies: 1) “The duke yet lives that Henry shall depose; but him outlive and die a violent death” 2) “By water shall he [Suffolk] die” 3) “Let him [Somerset] shun castles”
York and Buckingham bust in with their guard and arrest everyone. They read the prophesies for the sake of repetition. They send message to the King and Gloucester. Then, York invites Salisbury and Warwick to dinner.
Thus ends the plot points and random extras of Act I.