A R Humphreys (Editor) Catherine Alexander (Introduction) Beneath the glitter and pomp of ... more
Henry's court, conspiracy and intrigue is rife. A failed plot to discredit Cardinal Wolsey leads to the execution of the Duke of Buckingham, and when Henry falls in love with Anne Bullen and plans to divorce his wife he causes an irrevocable rift with the Catholic Church. Publisher: Penguin Books Paperback ISBN 9780141017402
Believed to be Shakespeare's very last play, Henry VIII is probably best remembered as the ... more
play that, when performed in June 1613, led to the Globe Theatre burning down due to the fireworks and cannon fire listed in the stage directions. However, the play has puzzled critics, who can see little more in it than a nostalgic account of Henry's reign, and the prophetic birth and christening of Elizabeth, Shakespeare's future Queen, that takes place at the end of the play. Henry VIII deals with the intrigue that surrounds Henry's court, and in particular the controversial figure of Cardinal Wolsey, and Henry's separation from his wife Katherine and infatuation with Anne Bullen. However, there is little sense of the psychological complexity created by Shakespeare in earlier history plays such as Henry V. Henry VIII himself is a grand but distant figure, and the virulent anti-Catholicism lacks complexity. Within an increasingly troubled political period, the final hopeful invocation of "peace, plenty, love, truth" seems rather flat, as does the play as a whole. This has led many critics to argue that Shakespeare was just one of many collaborators in the writing of the play. --Jerry Brotton
"Personally, this is definatly not one of Shakespeare's best plays. However it does comply with the rest of his history plays. It was written for Elizabeth 1 (henry VIII's daughter) so a lot of the correct detail has been omitted. I was slightly dissapointed when the real Anne Boleyn did not shine through. She actually takes very little part in the play, although the lines that she does speak are witty and intelligent. The court scenes seem as though they could actually stand against the truth and the battle over religion shines through fantasically. I enjoyed studying the book, but would never do it again...
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