Henry VI, Part 2: Act III

Scene 1: At Parliament, the King questions how Gloucester could be the last one to arrive. The Queen delivers a long speech about howGloucester used to be the perfect example of a devoted noble, but now he’s grumpy and jealous of everything the King and Queen have. You may be grumpy too if your wife was exiled as a witch. Margaret also reminds the King that Gloucester would be the one to gain the most should Henry die. Suffolk agrees with the Queen and asserts that Gloucester encouraged his wife into witchcraft. Winchester accuses Gloucester of delivering too harsh of punishments for minor offenses. York claims he collected large taxes for France that he instead kept for himself. The King doesn’t believe any of it and this annoys Margaret.

Somerset arrives to explain that he lost all of France. To which, the King basically responds “Bummer. Oh well!” York is also upset because that’s some of his Kingdom that was lost.

Now, Gloucester comes in, not knowing that he is about to be attacked by his enemies. Suffolk says he is under arrest. They repeat all of their accusations against him and he explains how he is actually the exact opposite of everything they are accusing him of. The King only says that he hopes Gloucester is innocent. Gloucester tells it like it is and explains how all of these corrupt people are taking over the kingdom. They question why the King is even letting him talk. He foretells the King’s downfall and leaves.

Now that Gloucester has been arrested, the King finally speaks in his favor. The King leaves because he is so upset by everything. Everyone else decides that they will have Gloucester killed.

A messenger enters to tell them that the rebels in Ireland are rising up against England. York and Suffolk take digs at each other as they try to decide who should be regent in Ireland. In the end, York is sent to Ireland, but he makes them promise to actually send him with an army and supplies…Suffolk! Suffolk agrees and all but York depart.

Now, York does his evil villain monologue where he explains his entire plan. He will go to Ireland and band together forces while there and bring them back to England. Meanwhile, a Kentishman, John Cade, at York’s command will rebel against the King and cause a great deal of chaos. Cade, who looks a lot like Mortimer (I wonder if they were played by the same actor?) will pretend to be Mortimer to start planting the seeds of a Yorkist claim without it obviously being York. Genius!

Scene 2: The two men that just murdered Gloucester feel guilty about what they just did. Suffolk enters to double check that they did everything according to plan. Then send them off before the King arrives.

When the King arrives, Suffolk goes to “summon” Gloucester, who is obviously not coming. Once Suffolk explains that Gloucester is dead, the King faints, which is very ladylike of him. Upon waking, he immediately starts blaming Suffolk as though he knew what really happened. The Queen then tries to make it all about her and tries to guilt trip Henry, but he is too overcome with grief to really care.

Warwick enters because the commons is quite upset about Gloucester’s death. How they found out so quickly, I do not know. The King asks him to figure out how Gloucester died. Warwick brings out the body and explains how it clearly shows that Gloucester was strangled. Since Suffolk asked the murderers earlier if they had laid the body as instructed, it seems odd that they left it in such an obviously murdered state. The King and Warwick immediately blame Suffolk. The Queen tries to stand up for him and Winchester randomly leaves.

Warwick and Suffolk start sword fighting. Then, Salisbury enters with the commons, who are demanding that Suffolk be executed or banished. The King banishes Suffolk and the Queen pleads for him not to. The King dismisses her pleas and leaves. The Queen and Suffolk have a long and sappy goodbye before exiting.

Scene 3: Cardinal Winchester lays dying. He is plagued by Gloucester’s angry ghost and expresses his guilt at his death. He dies and the King mourns again.

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