Act V of Henry VI Part Three was a wild ride. We begin with a battle and end with the death of the king, long live the king. Edward marches on Warwick, who is in a bit of a bad spot and ultimately dies at the hands of the Yorks. Margaret arrives from France with a “puissant” host, which I take to mean either substantial or fishy. Edward and Margaret meet on the field at Tewkesbury, perhaps the most English sounding town in all the world, where the two leaders give rousing speeches to their respective armies. After an intense battle, Margaret and her son Edward are taken prisoner. Prince Edward is murdered by King Edward in front of his mother and she is broken by the sight. She begs for death and insults Richard by calling him “Misshapen Dick”, which just so happened to be my nickname in high school. Richard is ready to give her the sweet release of death, but Edward stays his hand, perhaps out of cruelty. Richard is angry and utters my favorite line of the entire play: “Why should she live to fill the world with words?” She is set free and returns to Naples.
Finally, we come to the end as Richard returns to London to take care of one little piece of business. He visits the Tower of London and after suffering some verbal abuse from Henry, murders the erstwhile king in his prison cell. He sets himself up nicely for the next play when he says, “I, that have neither pity, love, nor fear”. This guy is a real psychopath. The final scene of the play is in the palace where Edward is meeting his infant son Edward for the first time. In this moment of familial bliss, Richard reveals to us that he is already plotting to murder his brother and nephew so that he can have the crown for himself.
The play ends on an incredibly ominous note that makes me want to dive right into Richard III and see what craziness he gets up to. I loved this act of the play, though it still had its flaws. I liked the action and how quotable it was, but I didn’t like the fact that Richard only came alive as a character in the last three scenes of the play. It gave the play an unbalanced feel, but I have to say, this was the best of the three plays I’ve read so far. The thin characterization throughout was made up for with lots of action and a plot that barreled along at high speed. I can’t wait to see where we go from here.